CHESHIRE – With the state legislative session approaching, town officials have come up with a list of priorities for local state representatives.
“These recommendations have been developed in discussions with Town Staff, meetings and conversations with staff at the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and other municipalities,” Town Manager Sean Kimball said. “In some cases (they) build upon prior year recommendations that were not ultimately resolved at the state level.”
The list of 14 issues that the Town Council agreed should be submitted to the state includes: raising the prevailing wage threshold for renovation projects from $100,000 to $400,000; a time limit for completion of a binding arbitration cases; reimbursement of the state tax exemption on manufacturing machinery and commercial motor vehicles; resuming funding the state’s portion of the elderly/disabled tax relief program; restoring funding to the Small Town Economic Assistance Program; and state assistance in encouraging business development of the 45 acres of state-owned land in the “Interchange Zone” near Interstate 691.
“I am going back and forth with the idea of just sending these recommendations as they are or if we should pare down this list,” said Council Chair Rob Oris at the most recent Town Council meeting. “On [Jan.] 28, we will discuss these items with the state legislators and figure out where our priorities lie, what is most reasonable and which we are most likely to make headway on at the state level.”
Before the meeting, Second District Councilor Jim Jinks added some transportation issues – municipal speed limits, crosswalks and upgrades to Route 70.
“I think we need to also ask the (legislators), when they come, why they haven’t done anything with the last legislative package we sent them,” said At-Large Councilor Sylvia Nichols. “And I would like to know what keeps items from moving forward.”
Councilor Peter Talbot, who represents the Fourth District, reiterated his opposition to including an item opposing tolls.
“I would like to vote on a motion to remove item number twelve; which relates to tolls, from the list of legislative recommendations,” he insisted. “I would hate to vote no on the entire list of recommendations just because of one item.”
Councilor Don Walsh immediately responded.
“I respectfully disagree with Mr. Talbot’s request,” he said. “The impact of tolls on Cheshire taxpayers will be very large. Traffic will be driving through our backroads in order to avoid the tolls, and this will directly affect businesses like Whole Foods and Bozzuto’s, who have major truck fleets.”
Talbot ultimately withdrew his request after Oris called for collaboration on the list of priorities.