HARTFORD – State Representative Richard Smith (R-108) has joined calls from municipal officials across Connecticut in requesting the immediate release of overdue state aid following the third nor’easter to hit the state in two weeks. In December, Governor Dannel Malloy announced $30 million in Town Aid Road (TAR) grants would be withheld because of the Special Transportation Fund’s persistent budget shortfall.
Rep. Smith noted additional winter snowfalls have made deep impacts on public works and snow removal budgets in northern Fairfield County, especially after rampant power outages in the region. He is urging state officials to hasten the release of funds communities normally would have received in January.
“If state officials do not release TAR grants to municipalities now, it will have devastating effects on the condition of local roads in the spring,” said Rep. Smith. “Northern Fairfield County has experienced three nor’easters in the past month, with another one possible this week. Fluctuating temperatures that come with these winter storms mean potholes and other road hazards will soon be appearing with alarming frequency unless towns can start closing on construction contracts. If towns do not receive the funding they were promised by the state, they won’t be able to move forward with these projects. It is wrong for the state punish municipal governments because their own fiscal policies failed by withholding crucial TAR funding reserved for towns.”
The governor has made TAR grants a political football this year in his dispute with the legislature regarding funding for the Special Transportation Fund. The state budgeted $60 million in TAR grants for the fiscal year, but the governor decided to suspend half of that funding, claiming insufficient revenue had been collected.
“Given our state’s unending fiscal crisis, municipalities have been forced to endure uncertainty regarding their funding, but the biggest thing they have asked for is to not cut promised funding mid-year like this,” said Rep. Smith. “I spent all of 2017 advocating ways the state could achieve savings without raising taxes or cutting local funding by making structural reforms to state government, and that’s where we should still be looking. We cannot put Connecticut drivers at risk this spring and summer because of a spending dispute. The governor needs to release these funds immediately.”
Rep. Smith has asked the governor to put TAR grants on the agenda for the next State Bond Commission this spring in order to ensure towns have sufficient funding for infrastructure projects.