Does Regional Planning Usurp Local Control?

In 2007, the State of Connecticut Legislative Program Review & Investigations Committee produced a report of  Findings and Recommendations .  Some of the conclusions in the report are quite brow raising.  Among the statements:rpos

“The other side of the issue of costs concerns the willingness of the citizens of a town to pay higher taxes in order to receive more benefits. Theoretically, all towns want to save money, if they can. Sometimes though, the cost of a particular structure or service is not high enough for town residents to be willing to make a change in the frequency or the scope of that project, even if it would save money…….

…..In those types of situations, the property tax burden on the individuals in the town that goes it alone can become very heavy. However, until the town reaches a financial tipping point where efforts to balance the provision of services with the cost of those services cannot be maintained, there may be little desire to seek out a regional solution. Only then will the town and its citizens be ready to give up some independence and join together with other towns for the provision of goods and services in order to stabilize or reduce local property taxes.

In the case of towns that are reluctant to readily participate in regional endeavors, the state can take action in three ways. It can offer incentives, which would be primarily financial, but could include technical assistance. At the same time, or as an alternative, the state could impose sanctions in the form of disqualification for a wide range of state grants or the impositionof a fee for acting alone. (These choices are sometimes referred to as the “carrot or stick” approach.) The most drastic state approach would be to mandate certain activities or functions that are currently performed on a town-by-town basis be regionalized.”

It would appear that the state is now intent on using these fiscal pressures on towns as a tool to leverage big government policies onto towns who wish to keep their tax rates low and their communities rural.  The categorization of the Connecticut  New Urbanism agenda as “bottom up” is bunk.  You can read the rest of the report here: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2007/pridata/Studies/PDF/RPO_Findings_and_Recommendations.pdf

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