Municipal leaders make push to free up infrastructure grants

HARTFORD — Town and city leaders urged a quick resolution to the impasse on the overdue state bonding package and the immediate release of local infrastructure grants once a two-year bonding bill is enacted.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities on Sept. 16 released town-by-town estimates for three bond-supported grant programs that have yet to be funded for the 2020 and 2021 fiscal years.

The state’s 169 municipalities are due to receive an estimated $153.8 million in 2020 from the Town Aid Road grants, Local Capital Improvement Program grants, and Grants for Municipal Projects, according to CCM.

The failure of Gov. Ned Lamont and the legislature to agree to a two-year bonding package on time has already delayed the expected release of the first installment of the TAR grants. Historically, $30 million in payments are made every July and January.

There are no specific release dates for LoCIP grants or the municipal project grants. The state Office of Policy and Management is supposed to release the funding by the end of the state’s fiscal year on June 30.

Towns and cities split $30 million annually in LOCIP grants, and the yearly total for municipal projects grants is $60 million.

The bonding package is caught up in the larger debate on transportation funding and highway tolls.

In a letter sent Sept. 16 to Lamont, the CCM Board of Directors urged the governor and legislature to reach an agreement on transportation funding and state borrowing, so a bonding bill can be approved in an upcoming special legislative session.

“Infrastructure funding is critical to the public safety needs and economic development concerns of municipalities and their residents,” wrote Joe DeLong, the executive director of CCM.

The Lamont administration was sympathetic but also noncommittal in a statement released Sept. 16 in response to the letter.

“Gov. Lamont is a staunch ally for infrastructure repairs and wholeheartedly agrees with CCM that funding to maintain our roads, bridges and transit system needs to be prioritized,” the statement read. “He is going to continue advocating on behalf of these critical transportation projects and will stress the concerns of CCM and local leaders to his legislative colleagues as discussions on a bond package continue.”

Locally, Beacon Falls is estimated to get $272,272, Naugatuck is slated to receive about $1 million, and Prospect is estimated to get $377,839 from the three grants in the 2020 fiscal year, according to figures released by CCM.

Beacon Falls First Selectman Christopher Bielik said the lack of movement on the two-year bonding package hasn’t impacted the town, yet. He said the town had alternative funding sources for projects that have been done recently or are being worked on, like road work on Pent Road and Railroad Avenue. But, he said, the town will need the funds eventually for projects planned for later this fiscal year, including repairs to Beacon Valley Road.

“We’re good to go at the moment,” said Bielik, adding the longer the state takes to act on the bonding bill will ultimately have an impact on the town.

Prospect Mayor Robert Chatfield said he may have to push back the start of some projects, if the money isn’t authorized soon.

“It has put a cramp in what my plans were,” he said.

A message left with Naugatuck Public Works Director James Stewart seeking comment wasn’t returned.

Elio Gugliotti contributed to this article.