Bridgeport, New Haven, Waterbury and Hartford all face mounting debt, pension and OPEB liabilities, coupled with high taxes, high rates of poverty and declining services, according to a forth-coming study entitled Connecticut's Broken Cities. However, Stamford remains the one major Connecticut city that does not qualify as a “distressed municipality.”
Marc E. Fitch
Faced with mounting retiree healthcare costs, Connecticut towns are making changes to get out of the healthcare business altogether. Matt Gallagan, town manager of South Windsor, said they no longer provide health benefits for retirees. Instead retirees can purchase a health plan through the town. South Windsor is one of several towns and cities that have moved away from providing long-term health benefits for their retirees.
As Gov. Dannel Malloy and the state legislature grapples with rising costs from unfunded pension liabilities, some Connecticut cities and towns have managed to tackle their own pension problems head on. Municipalities like Danbury, Norwalk, Stratford and South Windsor have switched from defined benefit retirement plans to 401(k) style plans and changing retiree healthcare packages to stem the long-term costs to the towns.
Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst and the Hartford Courant have recently called attention to legislators using mileage reimbursement to increase their compensation and pad their pensions. There were 251 working days in 2015. Legislators who received mileage reimbursement claimed anywhere from 1 to 245 trips from their hometown to the capitol. Yankee Institute obtained the mileage and reimbursement figures for all state senator and representatives through a Freedom of Information request.
In its administrative report to the governor, the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, which is tasked with investigating claims of discrimination in employment and housing, claimed that it had “the best production rate" of any similar agency by securing $10,250,000 in discrimination settlements from employers and property owners during FY16. But some employers and property owners liken the CHRO's practices to “extortion” and claim they are forced to settle with claimants to avoid a longer and more costly fight.
Payments awarded to state employees through a 2015 SEBAC settlement includes a 5 percent interest rate from the date of loss in 2003. Due to the size of the settlement and the number of claims to be processed some payments are delayed and will result in accruing more interest, adding to the financial burden taxpayers must cover.