Community Redevelopment and Conservation Act Dead for this Session

With dozens of environmental initiatives on the drawing board, and attacks on existing environmental funding and regulations needing vigorous defense, the chairs of the Environment Committee (Sen. Ed Meyer and Rep. Linda Gentile) decided not to raise the Community Redevelopment and Conservation Act (CRCA) again this year.

The State budget is likely to contain significant funding cuts for municipalities, putting increased local pressure to raise property tax mill rates and cut programs to balance town and city budgets.  Programs for land and agricultural preservation, clean air and water, and energy conservation are often among the likely cuts, while rising property taxes push towns to increase commercial development and sprawl.

Passage of the CRCA this legislative session (formerly known as the "Green Fund Bill") could have enabled municipalities to raise funds for conservation locally by instituting a 1% fee on real estate conveyances. In nearby states (MA, NY, RI), hundreds of millions of dollars have been provided for conservation in recent years.

Legislators (especially if they are Sen. Meyer or Rep. Gentile) should hear from any constituents who are disappointed that the CRCA has not been passed, forcing communities to cut back on conservation or raise mill rates to pay for needed projects.

The Council on Environmental Quality reports that the environment in Connecticut has stopped making progress, while climate change and toxins are risking our health and economy. This is not the time to be holding back on legislation that would allow communities to raise additional local funds for conservation.

Please contact me for more information on the CRCA proposal. We need to plan for a more concerted push for the 2014 legislative session.

David Bingham, CRCA Working Group