At their regular meeting on Jan. 17, the Middlefield Board of Selectmen discussed how cuts to state funding will impact the town.
On Dec. 29 Connecticut’s Office of Policy and Management announced $20 million in cuts to the Education Cost Sharing grants, the method the state uses to send funds to towns for education spending. On the same date, the state announced $30 million in cuts to the Local Capital Improvement Program, which will also affect Middlefield. Since then, and on a smaller scale, the state alerted municipalities that the Elderly Nutrition Program is also facing cuts.
Middlefield will see its ECS funding cut by $25,836 in payments that were scheduled to be received in January and April. Durham will also face an ECS cut, reducing grants directed to District 13 by over $71,000, or 1.2 percent of the estimate for 2017 of $6,066,036.
Middlefield First Selectman Ed Bailey said, “We’re not going to receive that - that’s not going to be restored.”
While noting that some towns are facing deeper ECS cuts, Bailey said that discussions with school administration and Durham First Selectman Laura Francis to handle the cuts are on-going.
Both towns passed a district budget but now find a drop in the expected revenue.
The method of funding education and the amount of state funds involved has been a volatile topic in Connecticut. Bailey said he expects the ECS formula to be revised and predicted it would not be to Middlefield’s advantage.
Unlike the ECS funding, restoration of the LoCIP funds is “quite possible,” according to Bailey. The First Selectman said he has been in touch with Middlefield’s state representatives and that the funds, designed to help towns with large projects, are still under consideration at the capital. “I’m a little encouraged by conversations that the legislature will release [LoCIP] funds.”
Middlefield’s LoCIP funds were cut $31,716. Due to receive funds in April, Middlefield is in better shape than other towns that had unspent LoCIP funds retracted.
Middlefield also received notification that cuts in the Community Renewal Team may effect the senior meal program, which takes place three times per week at the Middlefield Community Center. The cuts may be in the form of caps on number of days for the program or number of meals. Cuts of that nature might not affect Middlefield at all, as the program runs three days a week and averages 12 to 15 meals per sitting, which is smaller than many towns. “It doesn’t sound at the moment like a big effect on us,” said Bailey, who noted that the cuts were also not definite. “They [CRT] are still hoping to receive adequate funding.”
BOS members also discussed ways to bring more people to the program and if the program was successfully meeting a local need,