Budget cuts impact on cities and towns

- FILE - Connecticut State Capitol in Hartford (WTNH / Mark Davis)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — West Hartford town manager Ron Van Winkle is in shock, like many other town leaders across the state, as the governor takes a wood chipper to their budgets.

“A cut of $29 million to the town of West Hartford is devastating. It doesn’t make physical sense. It doesn’t make economic sense or political sense,” he said.

The governor’s new plan redistributes state aid, taking from most towns and giving it to the cities. It does not cut everyone across-the-board equally. In this scenario, West Hartford loses the most out of any town or city in the state. Van Winkle says it would be paralyzing.

“It is the equivalent to the police department and fire department budgets combined. If I could eliminate them, take both of those services, I could balance the budget,” he said.

And while West Hartford leaders say the governor’s plan would crush their budget, Hartford gains the most from all of this. The governor will hand them nearly $57 million. Residents were quick to point out that that’s almost as much as the new ballpark cost to build.

On Tuesday, the Republicans put forth a budget that does not wipe out cities or towns. State Rep. Themis Klarides(R) Derby says it will be hard work, but can be managed.

“Yeah it is difficult but it can be done. We have put budgets together without tax increases that have held towns and cities harmless. And I think that if you want to sit down and make the tough decisions, you can find a way to do that. I don’t accept the easy way out.”

The West Hartford Town Manager says if the governors plan goes through, West Hartford property taxes will dramatically increase.

“We would have trouble paying our bills. We would be the one that people might talk about. They might go bankrupt because we don’t have sufficient money to pay what we do.”

The Democrats also have a budget plan out that includes things like legalizing marijuana, adding tolls and adding a third casino to try to generate more revenue through taxes.

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