Local leaders: State can't cut municipal funds

BRIDGEPORT - Local municipal leaders met Wednesday at Bridgeport City Hall to urge state lawmakers to maintain current levels of municipal funding in the next budget.

Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch was joined by Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, Fairfield First Selectman Ken Flatto and 200 other municipal and school leaders from across Connecticut to demand municipal funding stay consistent. Finch insists the local leaders have done all they can to close their individual budget gaps. In Bridgeport, Finch filled the $20 million budget deficit by cutting programs, making deals on union concessions and laying off city employees.

Finch and other leaders say there is nothing left for them to cut in order to close further budget gaps. The local leaders say cuts in state aid will worsen an already fragile financial situation.

"I don't want a blank check from them," Finch says. "I've been doing my part to be as efficient and to be as cheap as I possibly can, but there comes a point where you can't close the children's libraries and the zoo. We've got to figure out a way to keep those open."

A survey released Wednesday by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities shows more than 70 percent of the cities and towns in the state would have to raise property taxes under both the governor's and legislature's proposed budgets in order to fill the deficits.

The state budget deadline is June 3.

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