By Ed Harris
Most of Southington’s state legislators recently met with the Town Council and unfunded mandates, the possible elimination of the car tax and the MORE commission were the main topics of discussion.
The state and town officials had planned on having this meeting earlier in the year, when the legislative session had just begun in Hartford, but recent snowstorms pushed the date back a few weeks.
State Representatives Dave Zoni (D-Southington), Rob Sampson (R-Southington/Wolcott) and Al Aldinolfi (R-Southington/Cheshire/Wallingford) and state Senator Joe Markley (R-Southington/Cheshire/Prospect/Waterbury/Wolcott) attended the meeting with the council. State Rep. Joe Aresimowicz (D-Southington/Berlin) was away on business and unable to attend.
As it often does, unfunded mandates dominated the conversation.
“What can be done to soften the blow,” questioned Southington Town Council Chairman John Dobbins.
The legislators were also questioned on what mandates they would get rid of, should they have the opportunity.
Markley noted that many of the mandates look like good policy, though he noted opposition to mandates.
“We should give more flexibility to the towns, not less,” he said.
Sampson agreed with Markley, but added that it is often hard to nail down exactly which mandates to eliminate. “We want to make sure we eliminate them whenever possible,” he said.
As for which specific mandates they would like to see cut or relooked at, Zoni mentioned special education funding, which he stated needed a change to the formula behind it and Aldinolfi wanted to get rid of prevailing wage.
Gov. Dannel Malloy’s proposal to eliminate taxes on automobiles over $28,500 really riled up some of the councilors and legislators. It is believed that Southington would lose $8-9 million if the proposal were to go through.
“It was so ludicrous,” said Town Council Vice-Chairman Peter Romano. “I just giggled at it.”
Romano called Malloy arrogant for the proposal and referred to it as a “smoke screen” for something else.
Zoni defended Malloy’s proposal, stating that the governor wanted a standard mill rate for cars, noting that cars didn’t have different values just because of the different communities they were in. Therefore, they shouldn’t be taxed at different rates, he said.
“The governor believes that the car tax is an unfair tax,” Zoni said.