URBAN MAYORS GATHER IN HARTFORD IN SUPPORT OF LEGISLATION THAT WOULD INCREASE PILOT REIMBURSEMENTS
(4/9/2008) HARTFORD- Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. of New Haven, Bill Finch of Bridgeport, Eddie Perez of Hartford and Kevin Cavanagh of New London gathered in a news conference in Hartford today calling for the state to step-up PILOT funding. The four Mayors spoke of rising foreclosures, a tightening economy, increases in health care and utility costs and other challenges faced by urban municipalities in the State. Expressing the frustration of home owners in their cities, the Mayors called for legislators to support the establishment of dedicated revenue source in the State budget to meet its PILOT obligations so that the cities would not be forced to increase property taxes.
“Middle class homeowners are getting killed by rising property taxes,” said DeStefano. “The State has more to do with property taxes than do the large cities themselves. Without an increase in State Aid, particularly restoring PILOT funding to statutory levels, we’ll be left with no choice but to put the burden on already over-strapped home owners in our cities. This is not an acceptable option.”
During this afternoon’s event, the four Mayors expressed their support for HB 5844, legislation proposed by the Finance Committee Chaired by Sen. Eileen Dailey and Rep. Cameron Staples, concerning the creation of a PILOT Payment Reserve Account.
“Municipalities are in dire need of additional state aid,” said DeStefano. “We’ve proposed a number of solutions from a circuit breaker on the property tax to a local option piggyback on the state sales tax. These proposals have all been met with resistance. We ask that the legislature consider seriously the proposed solution offered by the Finance Committee last week that would create a dedicated revenue source for the State to meet its PILOT obligations.”
Perez stressed the need for increased state aid and pointed to the developing foreclosure dilemma impacting Hartford. He spoke to the challenges faced by small business owners in his City and the heavy tax burden that, without property tax reform, will continue to fall on the shoulders of working families throughout the state.
“New London has the highest concentrated amount of tax-exempt property in the state. Therefore, shortfalls in PILOT reimbursements to municipalities hit our city the hardest,” said Cavanagh. “With local property taxes as our only source of revenue, there is little we can do other than raise taxes or cut services – neither is an option that tax payers want to see us adopt.”
Finch spoke about the devastating issues facing Bridgeport including the rising cost of providing basic services to residents, a grand list with minimal growth and 10-15 percent increases in utility and health care costs city-wide. With Bridgeport serving as home to a number of tax-exempt institutions, Finch spoke to the urgency of the State fully funding PILOT.
“We applaud the finance committee for identifying a realistic and beneficial first step in reforming the State’s property tax structure,” said DeStefano. “We urge the legislature to use this bill as a vehicle for delivering relief that tax payers desperately need.”
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