“Fair Share” Law is an Unfunded Mandate of Unknown Proportions for Connecticut Towns


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To the Editor:

Before the legislature in Hartford is HB 5204, also known as the “Fair Share” law. This bill provides that the Office of Policy Management assess the need for affordable housing in different parts of the state and then assign numeral objectives to each town and city to create affordable housing to meet very specific municipal targets.

Ultimately, however, this bill represents a very sizable (and undefined) unfunded mandate “cram down” tax on the cities and towns, in that no one has even attempted to cost out the very significant expenditures that will be required by cities and towns to build (or to perhaps subsidize) what is likely to be well over 120,000 “fair share” homes across the state.

Some towns, according to proponents of the bill may need to expand their affordable housing stock such that it constitutes as much as 20% of the current homes in the town.

What is missing from the language in HB 5204 is how towns and cities accomplish these objectives — only that they must get it done.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis report on the bill presents only the direct state personnel costs to assist municipalities in complying with HB 5204; but does not address the actual costs to those municipalities in complying with the bill’s unfunded mandates.

Unfunded mandates like HB 5204 do have a very large and significant cost to the residents of this state. Just fathom the cost of this bill to taxpayers in both cities and towns. If you are starting to feel that this bill is like signing a huge taxpayer “blank check”, then you have just scratched the surface of the question. How can this possibly be responsible law-making?

We can all likely agree that a humane society should accord those in need, and without the resources to provide for themselves, with appropriate food, clothing and shelter. But this should not translate to extreme statewide development mandates being levied on individual towns without knowing the short and long-term costs to state residents.

We already have in place multiple laws designed to expand housing options, and a commission has been created and charged with examining the issue. Please give these working groups and the commission a chance to work.

This type of “cram down” unfunded mandate is simply not a rational approach to good and effective policymaking.

Peter McGuinness
Stamford, CT 069907