CHAIRMEN: Senator Osten

Representative Rojas



REPRESENTATIVES: Aman, Belsito, Candelora,

C. Davis, Diminico, Flexer, D. Fox, Fritz, Gentile, Grogins, Kokoruda, Reed, M. Ritter, Sear, Simanksi, Vicino

REP. ROJAS: We're going to begin the public hearing. We can stop talking about our basketball brackets, and -- and focus on the agenda today.

We're going to begin the public hearing. We're going to reserve; the first hour is reserved for public officials. After the first hour, we begin alternating between the officials' list and the public list.

And first up on our agenda is the Speaker of the House, Brendan Sharkey.


REP. ROJAS: Mr. Speaker --


REP. ROJAS: -- good to see you.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENDAN J. SHARKEY: And to you and Ranking Member Aman, and to Senators Fasano and Osten, I, it's good to be back in the, in the Committee Room 2B and in front my one, my favorite committee in the Legislature, that I, of obvious reasons. I'm glad to be here today.


And before I begin, I just want to give a little bit of context to this. It was recognized decades ago that the nonprofit institutions, colleges and hospitals, are tremendous assets to our communities. However, in the past, they, we also felt that these -- these institutions deserved a particular privilege in Connecticut in the form of an exemption from the payment of local property taxes. And it was premised on the notion that the tradition, of the traditional nonprofit from a generation ago, which was small operations running on a shoestring that oftentimes run by very capable people who dedicated themselves to -- to these institutions and to their mission, but often at a discount in terms of the, what they might otherwise command in the private sector in terms of salary.

And I think that what's happened over the course the past generation, let's say, is that while those missions and those -- those services and those commitments remain on the part of these -- these important institutions to our community, the notion of them being the, your mom and dad's nonprofit, I think, has perhaps gone the way of the hula hoop, so to speak.

These institutions now in today's world are -- are major corporations with significant budgets that -- and -- and they look and act and feel a lot like any other major corporation, despite their nonprofit status. Appropriately, because they are large institutions, they are paying their chief executives large salaries, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars, if not in the seven figures, which I would argue is -- is appropriate, given the scale and scope of what these corporations actually do.

But at the same time, these institutions also have started to take on other roles, in terms of expansion, in terms of growth and development. Again, all of which we want to see happen for their own sake, as well as for the services in the communities that they provide services to. But the problem is that as these major corporations, the one thing that has not changed in the last generation is the exemption from their payment of property taxes to their host communities.

We have had a couple notable exceptions to this. Yale University, a couple of decades ago felt it was in their best interest to voluntarily contribute major dollars to the -- some argued maybe not enough -- but voluntarily contribute dollars to the City of New Haven's Annual Budget. Similarly, Yale-New Haven Hospital and the new Smilow Cancer Center has also agreed to make voluntary contributions to the City of New Haven's budget. But those examples are somewhat few and far between.

And what is happening is there's a growing frustration, I think, on the part of the families and small businesses of our communities that host these institutions, because they are the ones who are ultimately shouldering the burden of providing these tax exemptions to these corporations. And that's why I have dusted off an idea that I've kicked around, I think, when I -- I may have even mentioned it when I formerly chaired this -- this committee and from time to time, which is the notion of a reverse-PILOT.

Essentially what, to describe the proposal, currently we, as a state, subsidize towns and cities for the lost revenue associated with the taxes not collected from these corporations. And that payment is typically about, right now at about one-third of the total taxes that the towns might otherwise collect.

So as the grand list is put out, and these taxes, these properties are exempt, the town comes to the state with proof of the revenues that they should have collected but haven't because of the exemption and then apply to the state for what -- what at this point seems to be about a third of what they would otherwise collect.

This proposal turns that around. It obligates these corporations to pay local property taxes to the communities where they are located. The institutions, themselves, rather than the host communities, the institutions, themselves, these corporations can then apply to the state for reimbursement of the taxes that they've actually paid to their host community, using the same PILOT formula, the same PILOT Grant that the state currently has in place.

So for the state, there's no net gain or loss from this proposal, but we've shifted the burden from families and businesses in our host communities to the actual corporations, themselves.

An important provision of the bill that you have before you includes, however, a provision for these corporations to do what no other corporation or family in the state of Connecticut has the opportunity to do, which is to negotiate what the actual tax bill, what -- what actual tax bill they will pay. That is not allowed anywhere else in the state, but we would provide that opportunity to these corporations.

And I do it graphically when I try to describe this in other context, so if you'll bear with me. If X is here, and that represents the total amount of taxes that would otherwise be paid or is now exempt as a result of the tax exemption; Y represents the amount of the PILOT Grant that towns currently receive. The presumption is that -- and in the course of these negotiations between the corporations and the towns -- the communities would -- would take into account a number of other intangibles, some of it actually which, some of which would actually be tangible -- other contributions that these corporations make to their host communities; the other, the -- the community investments that they make; the annual contributions to local nonprofits and to businesses; the other things that they subsidize in their communities for the benefit of the community and, frankly, their ability to pay.

You know, an argument can be made, I think, by some institutions that perhaps if they were forced to pay the full, if they were to pay X, that they would, that would result in layoffs, that would result in other program cuts, not just cuts to their community services but other cuts to personnel that would ultimately cause a loss of jobs or other. Well, these are all legitimate arguments to be made, but it would be incumbent on the corporations to make those arguments to their local communities and allow the communities to determine the risk that's associated with imposing the full tax rate on them and take those factors into consideration.

No host community wants to see any of these corporations go out of business. They don't want to see them lay off people. They don't want to see them being put through hardship, so, but it should be their decision as to how much those factors should play in the question of how much these institutions should otherwise be contributing to their annual budgets.

So that lays out in some detail what the proposal is about. I -- I wanted to point out, too, that the bill as drafted actually calls for a, a phase-in of this proposal over five years. And I -- I would recommend to the committee if they're, if you're considering substitute language on this before you vote on it, I would actually recommend that the committee and that the bill incorporate not a state-mandated phase-in but actually an actual start date of, beginning with the grand list of October 1 of 2014, and leave it to the towns to decide whether to phase in over time. Again, instead of this being a top-down thing from the state, let's let these communities have this, the ability to determine on their own if and whether they want to phase in these taxes from these participating corporations.

So from a policy standpoint, I think in some cases this, I think, speaks for itself. In the first place, my argument about the fact that these corporations are not your -- your grandparents' nonprofits from a generation ago, all we need to do is look at another issue that we're dealing with in this Legislature this year, which is this question of hospital conversions to for-profit entities.

The distinction, in the hospital community, in particular, between non and for-profit is really coming under full focus now, as our nonprofit hospitals are expanding out into beyond their host communities there, where their, where their original base was located in the central cities. They're opening up surgical centers, drop-in centers, other facilities, buying up physician practices out in the suburban communities, and in so doing are taking those properties off the tax rolls. So they, themselves, are moving out into the community.

In, and then in addition, we have a question of conversions to for-profit entities. We all know that Waterbury Hospital and others in the state, in Bristol, Rockville, Eastern Connecticut, are considering acquisition by a for-property entity. Well, under current law if those transactions occur, those hospitals and those communities will reap a windfall, because those for-profit hospitals will pay property taxes at X.

And while that may be great for those host communities, where is the equity in this new world in allowing -- and no offense to Waterbury; I, you know, everyone, every city needs all the help it can get -- but why should Waterbury get the windfall of that tax revenue from the for-profit entity when Torrington, just up Route 8, still hosts the nonprofit hospital and they get nothing? It's a different world when it comes to these corporations today than it was when the PILOT was first created.

The other point that I would just make is that this highlights the problem of our property tax system, in general. The notion that towns and cities are only allowed to collect revenue from the property tax to run their operations, and the only property taxes that they can collect are from those properties that are solely and exclusively within their borders, calls attention to the problem that we're facing here today.

These institutions and these corporations provide a regional benefit; we've known this for decades. The hospital services outside the host city. The colleges service the communities outside the host community. They employ folks all over. They have economic spinoff benefits that inure to the benefit of all the towns in the region, not just the host community.

Yet the town next door and their taxpayers have no obligation, whatsoever, to help cover the cost of the police, the fire, the road maintenance and other costs associated with hosting these communities. Those are borne exclusively by the families and small businesses in the towns where they're located with no obligation to go anywhere else.

So in a, in a perfect world, I know, you know, when we were all together in this committee a few years ago, we talked about and actually passed legislation that would allow, for example, regional revenue sharing from economic development projects, where towns would agree that they would not compete with each other for new shopping centers, new corporate centers, new property tax drivers. And they do that voluntarily and share the revenue that's generated from those new facilities that come in, and that was a good plan. But in the three or four years since we passed that bill, to my knowledge no communities have actually taken advantage of that.

There is obviously a goal towards sharing and spreading the costs of these facilities out to a larger community, but to date, we don't have a real record of doing that on a town-by-town basis, on the ground level, unlike other states where a tax exemption may be granted to a college or a hospital. But those property taxes collected in those states are typically done on a county wide basis, so all of the taxpayers in the county bear the burden of hosting and subsidizing those corporations; whereas in Connecticut, that's not the case.

So I think that until we get to a point where we can truly, you know, regionalize some of these costs on a, on a real basis, that would be the ultimate goal. But until we get to that point, the communities that host these institutions, these corporations there, their families and their small businesses are the ones that are bearing the burden of and the cost associated with this. And I think that they deserve relief from that by incorporating and giving them the leverage to actually discuss and negotiate the taxes that they would actually receive.

So, with that, I'll be happy to answer any questions that the committee has.

REP. ROJAS: Excellent. Thank you for testifying, and certainly thank you for your leadership on this issue.

As you know, you and I -- and perhaps that's the reason why you appointed me Chairman of this committee -- share a lot of similar views around the need to get at this issue of -- of kind of the hyperfragmentation that exists here in Connecticut.

But at the same time, in the interest of full disclosure, I work at Trinity College, as my job outside the building. And as part of my duties at Trinity College, I'm the Director of Community Relations, and in that role I make sure that Trinity is a good partner in the neighborhood and in the city.

And I happen to manage a lot of the resources that we invest in the community some, so I bring an interesting perspective to this debate that we're having here today.


REP. ROJAS: and -- and but I also, I represent East Hartford, and we have Goodwin College. And I've always talked about kind of the opportunity cost, at least the needs, and continue to discuss the opportunity costs that do exist when we have institutions like Goodwin, like Trinity doing what they're doing in their community.

And I've expressed some concerns about the amounts of property and land that Goodwin College is purchasing or they have purchased over the last 10 years. But at the same time, Goodwin College has revitalized a neighborhood, an entire neighborhood that, quite frankly, nobody else would have done. And certainly there's a benefit to doing that and to having Goodwin College essentially revitalize an entire piece of -- of East Hartford, and particularly along our riverfront and old oil tank farms and incredible investments in remediating what was a -- a gigantic brownfield site, so there's value to that.

But the one concern I have, and I know, you know, the cities are in a -- a very difficult situation, and perhaps the state is the bigger culprit in this whole situation than is private colleges or hospitals. I mean, that's something that I think we can continue to talk about, because same with the state PILOT, we haven't funded that either. And I think that's a discussion that needs to take place, because this building sitting here is prime piece of real estate but doesn't offer any property taxes.


REP. ROJAS: -- to the City of Hartford.

But ultimately my concern is we can do this and in the process of doing this, we do impact colleges and hospitals, perhaps negatively, because colleges -- I can't speak for hospitals -- but for colleges, we have limited options for raising revenue. So are there any concerns that in -- in order to pay this, what is, will be a new cost to any of the colleges, are there any concerns about the potential impact on the affordability of higher education for students who want to go to these schools?

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENDAN J. SHARKEY: Absolutely. I mean, that's why I think the provision to be able to negotiate the actual taxes paid is so critical to this proposal, because we all know the contributions that Trinity does make to the community and commend you for that and the examples that you've given, that Goodwin, in East Hartford. Those mitigating factors are part of the negotiation that would take place between the -- the corporation and the community.

Presumably, and you know, keep in mind that the -- again, using my visual -- the argument would be or the negotiation that would take place between the corporation and the community would be, you know, at what level should those taxes be paid and at what rate. Should they be phased in? Should they be lower or higher, what have you? But presumably it would be either at Y, which is the amount of reimbursement that they would receive from the state, or Y plus something. And that incremental amount would be what they'd actually be paying out-of-pocket.

So when you consider that the -- the corporation would be coming to their communities and making the very points that you're making, we cannot afford to pay this; we cannot afford to pay X; we can pay Y -- well, why -- because they're going to be fully reimbursed for Y. And maybe we can contribute something more, more than Y, but we can't pay X; and, here's why: We, all the rate, all of the examples that you gave as well as all the other intangibles, the other investment they have made in the community and other means of doing that, that would all be part of that negotiation. And then ultimately, it's up to the town to decide whether these institutions should pay Y or Y plus something else and taking all of these community factors into consideration.

The difference is that the towns actually have the leverage in that discussion, whereas now they have none, because we don't allow them to tax these institutions.

REP. ROJAS: Oh, I would venture that given kind of the -- the fiscal conditions of most of our cities that -- that host a lot of the, our institutions, I, I'm, you know, I'm just going to take a guess and probably assume that in terms of negotiation, they're going to want the full payment, because -- so the way the bill is drafting today, are there actually any protections for the institutions in that negotiation process?

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENDAN J. SHARKEY: Well, the -- the protection is the ability to negotiate their taxes, which no one else gets the opportunity to do with their communities. I mean, a lot of corporations also are running into difficulties and have difficulty paying their property taxes but has no negotiation as to, as to what they actually have to pay. This is, this is something that would be granted to these institutions for just this reason.

REP. ROJAS: But even given the ability to negotiate, there's no resource really for the institutions in -- in that negotiation process. I mean, I think the way the bill is written, if we can't come to an agreement, what happens?

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENDAN J. SHARKEY: If there's no agreement, then they would be paying X.

REP. ROJAS: They would be paying X.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENDAN J. SHARKEY: And the, and the -- the impact on the local community will be felt. So I -- I don't think, to -- to your earlier point, of all the mayors and first select people that I've talked to about this proposal, none of them, none of them that I've talked to thus far believe that these institutions should be paying X. They don't, because they understand (a) it's a new proposal; they can't necessarily afford to incur this cost immediately, as a, it's a shock to their budgets, and that is certainly understandable. And you'll hear from these, from -- from representatives of these cities and towns, after I'm done. But -- but also they recognize the value that these institutions have and the other impacts that it could create if shocked into and forced to actually have to pay X immediately.

So, you know, there -- there's certain -- I -- I think it would be an unwise CEO of any, of our municipality who, or legislative body of our, of any municipality to be so short sided as to think that, well, we're just going to slam them with the tax and walk away from the negotiation. I think they fully understand that, first of all, this is a new day, a new window of opportunity, as far as revenue goes, and they also need to be reasonable, however, to ensure that the, to ensure the viability of these corporations in their community.

REP. ROJAS: Yes. Part of your testimony, you said some things that I completely agree with about the need to regionalize. So under this, we can provide those municipalities that revenue. But if we never get to that regionalizing or changing the underlying cost structure -- which is really the problem here -- we can perhaps present this new revenue, and it'll likely be consumed in due time, you know, whatever value they get from the revenue, yet nothing has changed. But there's still the potential for the institutions to be dramatically impacted by it. So that's more of a statement than a question to you, but --


REP. ROJAS: But I do get concerned that, you know, our inability to actually really effectuate change around how local government is structured and how it operates and the cost of -- of the cost of the status quo, given the difficulties in changing that, my concern is that these very same cities will be back to us seven years from now saying, We don't have enough revenue; we don't have enough revenue. Because we -- we really haven't changed the underlying cost structure, which is really the fundamental issue that exists here.

And I know that you -- you made some bold statements about what we're going to be doing next year around real property tax reform, and I think I sent you a text message and said I fully support you in that. And I hope you allow me to work with you on that.


REP. ROJAS: So hopefully we'll, we will definitely get there.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENDAN J. SHARKEY: Agreed. I -- I, Mr. Chairman, just in response, though, I think that until that day comes --


SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENDAN J. SHARKEY: -- in the meantime, I think it's time for these corporations to step up.


REP. ROJAS: Are there any other questions or comments for the Speaker?

Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO: Mr. Speaker, thank you for coming here. And I know we miss you on this committee, although the Chairs are doing a great job.


SENATOR FASANO: You know, some of the, if -- if I understand this correctly, if I am a hospital and we're going to have them pay tax under this bill -- correct -- to the hosting municipality and then I'm making my pitch to OPM to say you need to give me essentially -- I'll call "PILOT money" for better conversation -- and reimburse me for the taxes I paid and here's way, and this is what I'm doing.

I have a few concerns, just being open and frank. One, the politics of that could be somewhat daunting in terms of who's doing the asking and how the ask is being made. And I don't think we ever want to put a chilling effect upon this building, knowing that maybe Senator Fasano is not in agreement with OPM policies but yet one of the towns that Senator Fasano represents is going to go up and -- and discretionarily ask for money back. One could argue that perhaps that may put a chilling effect upon upsetting the apple cart in certain circumstances as a representative. And that -- that would weigh on my mind, so I'd be a little concerned over that area.


SENATOR FASANO: Oh, absolutely: yes, Mr. Speaker.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENDAN J. SHARKEY: The -- the way that it's envisioned, though, is that the same means of measuring what the corporation is entitled to receive back in a PILOT reimbursement would be the same measure that we use today with regard to the assessed value of the property in question. So just as towns and cities accumulate the assessed value of the nonprofits that are untaxable and present that to OPM and then it, that goes into the pot and they get reimbursed based upon how much is in the pot and how much that piece is a percentage of the pot, the same would be the case here.

SENATOR FASANO: So there would be a computation, not a discretion?


SENATOR FASANO: So it would just be that OPM would receive the information that Quinnipiac College is in North Haven, for instance, and this is what our assessed value is at that building, they would wait until they got everybody's in by whatever date is mentioned in the bill and then just do the division and send the checks out. There'd be no questioning of well, I'm a little concerned about this or I'm a little concerned about that.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENDAN J. SHARKEY: That's correct. That's the intent.

SENATOR FASANO: The other issue is I am equally concerned about the expansion of nonprofits in various areas; in particular, on the medical end and on the hospital end, because that is, that is growing, going at a great latitude.

I also believe that the other way of attacking this is for the Legislature to say, you know, we need to tighten up. I agree with you, Mr. Speaker, that there are parts of the nonprofits that perhaps are profit in any other way, except for the name "nonprofit," and the advantage that they've been getting by virtue of that status is not the policy for which the PILOT money was originally put on. But that may be for us to say we need to tighten up that strings, when it's really business-over-profit motive, perhaps we need to tighten up the rules and not give that PILOT money out, shrinking the amount of properties that may be subject to the PILOT list and increasing the amount of tax at the host community is another way of getting to that end, which would be something, I think, goes to your issue, I believe.


SENATOR FASANO: It's harder than the scenario you put in front of us, but I think it's well worth the exercise.




SENATOR FASANO: -- just like to lay that out there.


SENATOR FASANO: And I thank you, again, Mr. Speaker. It's good to see you.


REP. ROJAS: Representative Reed.

REP. REED: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I'm just interested. I mean, it feels as if this could be setting up some kind of a major lawsuit to challenge this kind of law if we enacted it. Are we hearing any talk of that? I mean, some of these nonprofits actually have law schools, and -- and were that to happen, who would be responsible for defending that, the -- the state or the municipalities?

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENDAN J. SHARKEY: Well, to be clear, the tax exemption, the exemption from the property tax, to be more specific, is something that is bestowed on these institutions by state statute, and we can change that state statute at any time. So I think, and so I'm not sure where the potential litigation issue might come from.

For example, I know that when this issue was first raised in Hamden, there was a -- a newspaper report from an official at Quinnipiac who's a, I consider to be a friend, but I think he got it all wrong. He -- he said, his comment was that complaints from the legislative council, from our council president -- who you'll hear from later -- should be brought to Speaker Boehner in Washington not Speaker Sharkey in Hartford, because there was an assumption that their federal tax ID status was the determining factor as to whether they had to pay property taxes. And that, of course, is not the case. They, these corporations enjoy the property tax exemption because we gave it to them by statute.

There was an argument about whether Yale University, in particular, has a Constitutional exemption from property taxes, and that's a separate issue. But for all the rest of these institutions, what we give we can take away, to put it in a, in a less than generous way. I mean, that, that's, I -- I think that mitigates any potential for litigation or for legal concerns.

REP. REED: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and excellent leadership on this and so many other issues.

Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. ROJAS: Representative Vicino.

REP. VICINO: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Going through the M.O.R.E. Committee and discussing all of our issues with our regionalization and taxes, I just finished doing a survey to my local district, and below jobs, the property tax is the biggest issue out there.

And by addressing this issue, I've learned that there's so many different moving pieces. It sounds simple but there's a lot of different issues. And I can understand when these particular nonprofits or corporations will come to the argument that they're -- they're providing a lot of jobs and revitalizing neighborhoods and investing in the community, but so are other businesses. And the taxpayer wants to know that they are not the -- the last one in the line to pay all of the bills for these services. These services have become such a big part of our -- our Connecticut, our -- our bottom line. We have a lot of good services here, and to share them, the cost of them throughout the whole system is important to the Connecticut taxpayer.

And in Connecticut, we looked at all different states on how we pay our bills, and in Connecticut, our property tax is the biggest revenue for -- for this issue. So to -- to look at this and then come up with a logical, balanced, fair system to pay our bills, this needs to be looked at very closely and negotiated so that everyone pays their fair share.

Thank you.


REP. ROJAS: Thank you.

Are there any other questions or comments for the Speaker?

Representative Fox.

REP. D. FOX: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Good morning, Mr. Speaker.


REP. D. FOX: Just a very brief clarification. You spoke earlier -- using your X and your Y -- that potential negotiation phase between a municipality and -- and the nonprofit. And there would still exist the possibility, although some entities may say it's small, but there would still exist the possibility that subsequent to that negotiation, the municipality might say after taking in all these factors might say, you know what? We understand what you do for our community; we're not going to move your, move -- move it up any more than it already is.


REP. D. FOX: But the -- the idea of being that at the very least you provide municipalities with the opportunity to have that discussion. Is that correct?


REP. D. FOX: Right.

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENDAN J. SHARKEY: We're put the power of this negotiation into the hands of communities and their taxpayers, rather than them being subject to the -- the whims of what we can do or don't do at the state level in terms of their PILOT contributions.

REP. D. FOX: Okay. Thank you.


REP. ROJAS: Are there any other questions?

I had one more for you, actually.


REP. ROJAS: When we talked about equity in the institutions, how, you know, one situation for Yale. What about the institutions that have a -- a religious affiliation; would they be subject to the tax after this?

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENDAN J. SHARKEY: Yeah. Well, they current are, fall under the PILOT reimbursement, so religious institutions do have an impact on PILOT. And I think it's a question that we've really got to look at -- you're right -- because their tax exemption may fall under a slightly different -- this may be a legal question that Representative Reed is asking -- their tax exemption may fall under a different category, more of a religious tax exemption, based upon their status as a religious entity, as opposed to another private entity. So it is a question that we do need to resolve.

REP. ROJAS: Thank you.

Any other questions or comments?

Senator Fasano, for a second time.

SENATOR FASANO: I apologize.

Mr. Speaker, there was an article I read that

-- and I don't know enough about this -- but that Yale University is a, as written in the Constitution, Connecticut Constitution, that they can't be charged a tax. And so how would we get around -- I don't know enough about it, other than that -- have you looked into that issue and (inaudible) --


SENATOR FASANO: -- that stuff?

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE BRENDAN J. SHARKEY: -- preliminarily, and some would argue that -- that exclusive tax exemption in the Constitution is somewhat ambiguous. So we also do want to address that.

But, again, you know, part of the conversation about this is the fact that Yale is one of those institutions that does this voluntarily, already. Even, so even notwithstanding a potential Constitutional exemption, they do it because they recognize that it's important to do it. So to some degree, that issue is a, is a bit mitigated by the fact that Yale already makes those kinds of voluntary contributions.

REP. ROJAS: And just follow-up. Yale is probably unique in that they have a $20 billion endowment too.


REP. ROJAS: So they -- they have --


REP. ROJAS: -- have a bit more capacity to make that voluntary contribution.


REP. ROJAS: One that --

SENATOR FASANO: That's true.

REP. ROJAS: -- certainly I'm sure Goodwin or my employer does not, so, but thank you for your leadership on this. And certainly we're going to continue to talk and work on this issue as we move forward --


REP. ROJAS: -- with it all.


REP. ROJAS: Thank you, very much.


REP. ROJAS: Representative Ernie Hewett, followed by a Daryl Finizio, Mayor Daryl Finizio.

REP. HEWETT: Just, I want to beg the committee's indulgence, as we both come up at the same time.

REP. ROJAS: Absolutely.

REP. HEWETT: Is that okay?


REP. HEWETT: All right.


Honorable Co-Chairs, Senator Osten, Representative Rojas, and distinguished members of the Planning Committee, my name is Representative Ernest Hewett, and I am here before you to testify in favor of House Bill 5583, AN ACT CONCERNING PAYMENT OF REAL ESTATE PROPERTY TAXES OF CERTAIN INSTITUTIONS IN HIGHER LEARNING AND HOSPITAL FACILITIES.

The purpose of this bill is to change the way tax-exempt properties and hospitals are treated under the local tax system. Under this legislative proposal, college and hospitals would be encouraged to discuss with municipalities about the amount of money they would be required to pay. The mentioned entities would, in return, submit a partial, monetary reimbursement application to the state, with an aim of -- of setting some costs of these property taxes.

The legislation would help in decentralizing this particular tax policy, by providing more advantages to towns and cities. The City of New London, which I proudly represent in the House of Representatives, is highly supportive of this measure.

Before I came to the General Assembly, I served as role as Mayor of the City of New London. And New London is actually about 6 square miles, and we probably have more PILOT than American Airline. And I know that because I've served in that role with the council and mayor for over 8 years. We have Connecticut College; we have Mitchell College; we have Lawrence & Memorial Hospital; we have all drug addiction agencies; we have -- you name it, we got it.

And previously we have tried to tackle our tax burdens by doing something called "eminent domain." And I don't want to go down that road again ever in my life, because you only get one of those. And so I am fully support of this measure because at some point -- then don't -- don't forget the Coast Guard Academy. So remember, 6 square miles, and I think 50 to 55 percent of the taxable properties in New London is off the tax roll. So that makes it very difficult for us to balance the budget in New London, so I am total in support of this bill as it's never late but it's here.

So thank you for your indulgence, and I want to hear a few words from our mayor, Daryl Finizio.

DARYL FINIZIO: Thank you, Representative Hewett, very much, for your leadership in representing our community and for your support of this legislation today. And thank you to the Speaker for bringing this issue forward.

Thank you, Senator Osten, Representative Rojas. I'm here today to speak in support of House Bill 5583. I am proud to speak to you today as Mayor of the City of the New London, home to three colleges and one community hospital. While the people of New London appreciate what these institutions provide to our city, few people appreciate or understand what our city provides to these substitutions.

Connecticut College's web site promotes New London's downtown arts and entertainment district. Mitchell College boasts that their campus is located in a safe neighborhood. L&M Hospital touts the area's family oriented lifestyle. The amenities which these institutions use to entice students and professional staff are supported by property taxes, taxes from which these institutions are exempt. All of these institutions stress our city infrastructure and all of these institutions rely heavily on city services. Their properties contribute to storm water runoff. These institutions depend on our police and fire departments to protect and serve them. They depend on the city to keep nearby roads and streets plowed and paved.

Over the last five years, for example, the city and the state of Connecticut have made $36 million worth of improvements on Montauk Avenue. Montauk Avenue borders and services both L&M Hospital and Mitchell College. It is becoming increasingly difficult for our city to maintain these necessary services and to fund these vital, capital projects. In the last two years, we have lost 25 percent of our municipal workforce through budget cuts. Our city fund balance is nearly exhausted. We have been forced to ask more and more from our tax-paying residents and businesses, over 8 percent in tax increases in the last two years alone, while nearly half our land remains nontaxable.

The largest portions of this nontaxable property are owned by L&M, Conn. College, and Mitchell College. If these three institutions, L&M, Conn. College, and Mitchell College paid taxes at their assessed value, they would be paying nearly twelve-and-a-half-million dollars to the city. Instead, we receive less than four-and-a-half-million dollars in PILOT funds for these institutions. The difference is crippling us.

I did meet recently with each of our college presidents and the president of L&M Hospital. I explained the city's current financial situation, and I asked each of them to make a one-time, voluntary contribution of 1 mill on their assessed property values. They all said no. One mill, one time, less than 5 percent of what they would pay if they weren't tax exempt, during a period of deep financial hardship for New London, and they all said no. They wrote very polite, long letters explaining that they employ people, therefore they shouldn't have to pay. But our struggling small businesses employ people too, and they all pay property taxes.

They said that they didn't have any money, but the residents in New London have a poverty rate of 17.9 percent and a median income over -- under $23,000 a year, and they all pay property taxes. They said they're civically engaged, that their students volunteer or that they meet various community needs, but our residents volunteer and our businesses meet community needs as well, and they all pay property taxes.

The truth is nobody wants to pay taxes, but everybody wants and needs services. This bill would more equitably, more strongly, and more stably fund the services that everyone, including our colleges and our hospital want and need.

I do have an appendix to my written testimony, which includes a suggested amendment related to prior tax payment agreements. I welcome the opportunity to discuss that amendment or my testimony with committee members or staff.

I thank you, again, for your time and for your consideration, and, again, I urge you to support House Bill 5583. This bill will bring fairness to our tax system and give hope to my city's struggling taxpayers.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. ROJAS: Thank you, Mayor.

Thank you, Representative.

Some comments and questions for you; you know, one of the things that stood out to me, Representative Hewett said, New London is six square miles. Therein lies the issue. And it's not New London's fault that it's six miles, but the fact that we continue to have municipalities the size that they are and the number that we do, I think is really the fundamental issue at play here. While this is a, we're fair to have this debate, you know, I would suggest -- and this is not you that had made New London six square miles -- but for everybody in the room that lives in Connecticut and has a stake in the future of this state, we really need to think hard about whether we can continue to sustain a hundred and sixty-nine of everything.

You talked about the small businesses doing their job. What are the largest employers in New London?

DARYL FINIZIO: The largest employer is L&M Hospital; second largest is Electric Boat. One pays taxes; one does not. Both, as the Speaker mentioned, would struggle under any tax payment system. The difference is, is one has to pay and pay the full amount; the other pays nothing. And we are not in a position to negotiate anything reasonable.

When the Speaker spoke of X and Y, what I suggested to the college presidents and the president of L&M Hospital would be Z, which is somewhere down on the first floor. If X is here and Y is here, somewhere down in Committee Room 1 D is where Z is. And the answer was no. And the answer was understandably no. If I was the president of L&M, I would say no, because why would I say yes? There is nothing to compel me to negotiate. I think that this bill puts the cities and towns in a position where we can reasonably negotiate, under a phase-in, some type of reasonable payment from these institutions that would help offset the cost that these institutions place upon cities with the need for services.

I would also say, Mr. Chairman, in regard to your earlier point, that I support regionalization fully. The last time I was here testifying, it was in support of regionalization legislation. But these regionalization efforts takes years, and even when they are realized, they don't save as much money. Regionalizing all of our radio and dispatch services would save about $160,000, total. This is an issue that's in the millions. Even if we regionalized everything we could, we would still need to provide basic, urban services in an urban setting. And unless this issue of nontaxable property is also addressed, we are not going to be able to meet the needs and the mandates that the state, itself, places upon us.

REP. ROJAS: I mean, and if you were to recognize the revenue that you would gain under this proposal, how long would that, how long would that help you before you're back up here saying you need more revenue?

DARYL FINIZIO: I think it depends on what else we're doing. I mean, right now the City of New London -- and I can only speak to New London; I can't speak to other cities -- but we're in the process of becoming the first all-magnet regional school district in our state, which would come with additional state resources.

We're looking to regionalize our transportation. We are already a regional water provider. We're now looking to regionalize dispatch services. So we're regionalizing everything we can. If we accomplish that and this PILOT system were worked out, I think we could see tax stabilization for a very long time, because we're not that far off the mark as we are now. We do need to regionalize, but if we were able to get some reasonable income stream from half the city that currently does not provide any real revenue stream, I think we could stabilize the city's finances, and I don't think you're in a situation where this merely buys us five years. I think this buys us a real chance at a honest future to turn the corner financially. I think this is a lot bigger than a short-term solution. I think this paves the way towards a long-term solution to our underlying, fundamental financial needs.

REP. ROJAS: Rep. Hewett.

REP. HEWETT: Just a piggy-back in what you said about regionalization; I think regionalization is the answer. It is the answer. In Connecticut, we have a hundred and sixty-nine towns, a hundred and sixty-four boards of education. I -- I, that's startling to me. And each one of them has its own elected officials.

Just, when I started in New London, as mayor, the budget for board of education was around $26 million per year. It is over $40 million a year, half of an $80 million budget; that's ridiculous. And so we have to get that money from somewhere, and I -- I mean, I, it troubles me to have to come up here and -- and support a bill like this to get it, but we're in trouble.

And like I says, the eminent domain issue, we have nowhere to go. We can't build into the Thames River. Waterford won't give us any land, so we, so we have to find another way to -- to, where we won't put the burden on the taxpayers, because when we don't balance their budget -- and everybody knows this that represents a city in the State of Connecticut -- knows if we don't balance that budget, we're going to have to find a way to get the money. And guess where it's going to come from? Most likely the taxpayers, and I don't want to do that.

REP. ROJAS: You know, I certainly appreciate the situation that New London is in; it's particularly given their geographic size. And at the risk of being booed by a number of people in the room, we have 318 fire departments in Connecticut too.


REP. ROJAS: So, you know, we have a lot of work to do. And 318 for a hundred and sixty-nine towns; there's a question to be asked there.

So are there any other questions or comments --

A VOICE: (Inaudible.)

REP. ROJAS: -- for the mayor?

Mayor, go ahead.

DARYL FINIZIO: Yeah. I would only add, Mr. Chairman that one thing that came up earlier was the discussion of well, if the colleges and hospital had to pay, what constrictions would be forced upon them? Would they have to deny students' access? Would they have to raise tuition rates? Would they have to lay someone off?

Well, I've had to lay a lot of people off, and the businesses in New London have lost staff. Many businesses have closed. And we are bearing the entire tax burden, so I think it's only fair to say that this burden must shared, and that means sometimes, sadly, the pain must be shared as well. But if we don't share the pain and the pain falls entirely upon New London's existing tax base, it's only a matter of time before all of our small businesses close, before essential services completely break down.

So I think the Speaker is right and I think the Representative is right. Moving towards regionalization, absolutely; we're doing that. But that's going to take time. Right now we need to address this tax-gap issue, and I think this phase-in, I think this ability for us to negotiate something reasonable is a very, very, very necessary step in the right direction, and I think this is very, very timely. So I would urge you to give it serious consideration.

REP. HEWETT: One last statement and I'm out of here. New London, where there are towns around New London that come into New London and take advantage of the services that we have. A lot of people need to know, just because you live in an affluent community, you know, affluent communities have drug addicts. They have alcoholics. They have problems, just like anybody else, in not more. So we have those services in New London for these people to take advantage of, and I don't have a problem with that. But somehow we have to pay for it because those properties are off the tax roll; they're not paying anything. So how are we going to pay for these services?

So I think regionalization is the thing, and I would love -- but that's a, that another bill for a different date.

So thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Madam Chairman, for your indulgence.

REP. ROJAS: Senator Osten.

SENATOR OSTEN: No, I'm all set with both of you. Thank you, very much.

Is there any --

DARYL FINIZIO: Thank you --

SENATOR OSTEN: -- other questions?

DARYL FINIZIO: -- very much.

REP. HEWETT: Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Sorry. I've been to New London; I know how big it is.

So -- so I would just remind everybody that we have about six pages here, so we're going to try and get through everybody and give enough time for the public to have some opportunity to speak.

So next up we have Rosa, Representative Rambar [sic].

REP. REBIMBAS: Rebimbas.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you. I know I'm going to get -- I'm sorry; I apologize. Please accept my apology.

And I -- I see you're bringing people up, Representative.

REP. REBIMBAS: Yes; good morning. Especially in light of that last announcement, I thought we'd make it easier on the --


REP. REBIMBAS: -- committee.

SENATOR OSTEN: I applaud you.

If everyone could identify themselves for the record.

REP. REBIMBAS: Certainly.

Good morning, again, Chairmen Senator Osten and Representative Rojas, Ranking Member Senator Fasano, Representative Aman, Vice Chairs, and distinguished members of the committee. My name is State Representative Rosa Rebimbas, and I have the distinct pleasure of representing the 70th District, which is the Borough of Naugatuck.


I would like to take this opportunity -- specifically, the focus is going to be on the task force recommendations -- and I'd like to take the opportunity to thank the task force for their hard work and recommendations. And what I'm certainly going to do, again, in the interest of time, as opposed to having all of our local leaders testify in support of the bill, I've invited them all up here, and what we have, we have -- they're going to be testifying.

We have with us Mayor Robert Mezzo, Deputy Mayor Tamath Rossi, who is also the Chairwoman of our Local Emergency Service Oversight Committee. We also have with us Naugatuck Police Chief, Christopher Edson, and Naugatuck Fire Chief, Ken Hanks.

And now I will certainly pass it along to our mayor, who is going to be testifying is support of the legislation.

ROBERT A. MEZZO: Thank you, Representative Rebimbas.

For the record, my name is Bob Mezzo; I am the Mayor of the Borough of Naugatuck. And as our Representative Rebimbas stated, we're here on behalf of supporting Raised Bill 5580. With me today is our deputy mayor, who has also been the chair of our Emergency Medical Services Oversight Committee, as well as our Fire Chief, Kenneth Hanks, and our Police Chief, Christopher Edson. We've submitted written testimony for the record, so the interest of time, I'll just summarize and then hand it over to Deputy Mayor Rossi.

Five years ago, many of us did not know, particularly those on the elected side, what a, what a PSA was. We've gone through quite an education, borne out of specific circumstance within our community, relative to the current provider of emergency medical services in, within the Borough of Naugatuck. We have learned much about the -- the arguments for and against this bill, and we do want to commend the -- the work done by the PSA Task Force and support all of their recommendations, as included within this bill, particularly Recommendation 5, which would give us what we've been asking for over the course of the past three or four years, which is some say about the level of services provided to municipalities for emergency medical services and the associated costs with providing them.

My counterpart from New London articulately raised support for a bill unrelated but -- but speaks of similar themes, our goal as -- as elected officials is to provide the highest level of services for the most competitive cost to our taxpayers who bear the -- the brunt of providing those services, in terms of their tax dollars. We believe that the PSA system, why created long ago with significant arguments for it, takes away some of the competitive balance for doing so and providing the level of service.

In Naugatuck, we are accustomed to a level of services that is unique to our community. Unfortunately, based on the very uniform state standards of -- of the PSA minimum services requirement or minimum delivery of services requirement, we've come to a -- a quandary in terms of -- of what those services cost and -- and how they should be provided.

We believe that the task force recommendations gives us the opportunity and the oversight and the input, which I think is critical here, to have a say in how those services are -- are implemented in our community and the cost by which that they are provided to us.

I'd be glad to answer questions, any specific questions to our -- our situation in the Borough of Naugatuck, but I am honored to -- to sit here with our deputy mayor who has -- has led the charge with regard to this legislation and -- and the issues we face in Naugatuck. She is the current chair of the Emergency Medical Services Oversight Committee in the Borough of Naugatuck, and I would defer to Deputy Mayor Rossi.

TAMATH K. ROSSI: Good morning.

Thank you, very much, committee members for allowing us the opportunity to come before you and represent Naugatuck and give you a small snapshot of one of many of unique problems that are created by a currently very broken system that is over 40 years old. Unfortunately, I think most municipalities probably do not even recognize the limitations and, quite frankly, how badly they are held hostage by the current situation until they are in a problem.

Naugatuck's history is two years ago we had our EMS provider come before us and tell us they were going to remove their, the paramedic. In our particular situation, we have had a paramedic provided to us in town for close to two decades. That is well above what is the state requirement, which is a clear-cut example of something that a town comes to require due to population and call volume and is well above the state threshold.

We are not Goshen. Our needs are different than Goshen, and Bridgeport's needs are different than Naugatuck's. So to apply a statewide standard to various communities is not -- not always a very effective way of -- of managing.

We had a contract at the time, albeit very vague, so we were able to hold our provider to keep the paramedic in town. Fast forward to now, where we are today, and we are 18 months now without a contract. We are at a stalemate, and without any notification to the borough, our paramedic fly car was removed as of February 1st.

Since February 1st, we've had two documented incidences from our police department. One included a heart attack victim in the back of an ambulance, both EMTs tending to that heart attack victim and no one to drive the ambulance. This is unacceptable for our residents; it is putting our residents at great risk.

Another incident involved another heart attack victim in which we needed --


TAMATH K. ROSSI: -- our police department.

SENATOR OSTEN: -- I -- I really, I -- I, we understand all of that. But I want to make sure everybody gets an opportunity to speak, and I want to also subject you to some questions.


SENATOR OSTEN: So I -- I, I'm sorry to interrupt. So I was wondering if anybody else that came with you all today has needs to speak at all.

ROBERT A. MEZZO: Madam Chair, I think our testimony speaks for itself.

And we'd be glad to answer --


ROBERT A. MEZZO: -- the questions --


ROBERT A. MEZZO: -- you have.

SENATOR OSTEN: -- concur.

Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO: Yes; thank you both for coming.

And Deputy Mayor, it's good to see you again.

TAMATH K. ROSSI: Good to see you.

SENATOR FASANO: And you're very amply represented by Representative Rebimbas; she does a great job.

Couple concerns, but I -- I don't know this area well at all, so I'm trying to get a little bit up to speed. Some of the providers will tell us that if you leave it to the towns to pick, perhaps those towns that are less populated may not be able to find ample service because the reward is not there for a business to do it. And that's the reason why it's easier if -- this isn't my argument -- but that's the reason why it's easier if Public Health or whatever, whoever the agency is sort of combines towns so that they can do it; that's number one. So I'd like a comment on that.

The second comment is I'm also told that in order for these companies to invest equipment and make whatever necessary investments in the trucks or whatever have you, there has to be certainty. If they have a two-year contract or a three-year contract, well the amortization of the equipment over that period of time doesn't make sense. Can you respond to both of those?

TAMATH K. ROSSI: Absolutely, and those are, those are very justified concerns and arguments. And to that I would say you need to look at Recommendation No. 5. We're not looking to take business away from anyone, quite frankly; and -- and I testified, on Wednesday, in front of Public Health. To be honest with you, as a municipal leader, I'd love to see the PSA returned back to us. But I think the task force did a tremendous, collaborative job in offering a very fair and equitable compromise.

We wouldn't decide. The Recommendation No. 5 merely allows the municipality to have a seat at the table, to be heard, and to let DPH make that decision.

SENATOR FASANO: So as I understand it, though, the bill that was in Public Health -- unless I'm wrong on this -- the bill that is in Public Health did not have No. 5.

TAMATH K. ROSSI: That's --

SENATOR FASANO: Is that correct?

TAMATH K. ROSSI: -- correct.


TAMATH K. ROSSI: Correct; and -- and I think that that's a critical piece. You have a group that has worked tirelessly for -- for a year that really has pulled people from all different realms of this issue together.

And I understand that No. 5 was contentious; we're not. In the Borough of Naugatuck, we're not looking to take business away from anyone. And at the end of the day, who the individual or the company is providing the service for us is a nonissue. The issue for us is we want to make sure that the highest level of patient care and EMS service that's being provided to our community is based on population, call volume, and past calls; it's -- it's really very simple.

And -- and obviously we'd like to try to do that at a reasonable price. We did go out to bid in our situation; knowing full well the PSA was being held by Naugatuck Ambulance, we did go out to bid. We had been told for many, many years that we wouldn't be able to get it for less or better, and we were able to establish a market rate that showed a different snapshot.

SENATOR FASANO: I got to rethink this language here, but it says it's not less than once every five years the department shall review a municipal's plan of primary service area. Is that the right section I should be looking at with respect to that?


SENATOR FASANO: Not less than five would mean a minimum of five; is that way you're reading that?

ROBERT A. MEZZO: That in Section 5 of -- of the raised bill are the appropriate sections.


ROBERT A. MEZZO: And we think that not-less-than-five language is a -- a statement of the reasonableness of the -- the task force recommended. It's simply saying without destroying the PSA system that there will be a review by the oversight regulatory agency, DPH.

SENATOR FASANO: And this is where you would of had your input as a municipality to say, hey, look, this is what's happening in our district; this is what's acceptable; this is what is not acceptable; and perhaps negotiations from there that, well, there'd be a driver in the case with the cardiac --

TAMATH K. ROSSI: Absolutely.

SENATOR FASANO: -- (inaudible)

ROBERT A. MEZZO: Correct. There's the input and the --

SENATOR FASANO: -- (inaudible) conversation.

ROBERT A. MEZZO: -- in the following section --

SENATOR FASANO: Otherwise that doesn't come to light because you don't have the opportunity to weigh in.

TAMATH K. ROSSI: We're, the municipalities are completely omitted from having any ability for input or involvement.

SENATOR FASANO: Thank you, very much. And thank you for coming up.

Thank you, Representative Rebimbas.

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there, are there any other questions?

I just have one question that, do you know, does Naugatuck Ambulance Company, is it funded primarily through ambulance billing? And do you know, do they have a fund balance as a result of that ambulance billing; do you know? And does the, in regards to that ambulance billing money is the town seeking access to any of that? And they buy all their own ambulances and everything through that? Does the town support them in any financial way?

ROBERT A. MEZZO: The town has --

SENATOR OSTEN: You have to hit your button. You got to hit your button to work.

ROBERT A. MEZZO: My apologies. The town has supported them through contractual arrangements in the past. Since the -- the incident a couple years ago where the unilateral decision was made to remove the paramedic fly car, that contract has since expired, and we have no contractual relationship with them currently.

SENATOR OSTEN: Oh; thank you, very much.

Are there any other questions?

Thank you, very much for all coming up together; appreciate your time.

TAMATH K. ROSSI: Thank you for --

ROBERT A. MEZZO: Thank you.

TAMATH K. ROSSI: -- your time.

SENATOR OSTEN: Okay. After this next speaker, we will be traveling back and forth between public officials and the, and the public.

So David Alexander is up next; Representative Alexander. Are you bringing anybody up with you? Okay; thank you.

REP. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I'd first like to thank Chairman Osten, Chairman Rojas, Ranking Members Senator Fasano, and Representative Aman, and the entire Planning and Development Committee for letting me testify here today.

I'm here today to testify in support of H.B. 5541, AN ACT CONCERNING THE THOMPSONVILLE FIRE DISTRICT, with proposed substitute language. As many of you might remember, I came before you last March to discuss two proposed bills that would have provided much-needed reform for the Thompsonville Fire District. Due to a, to practicality concerns, the committee was not able to move these bills forward, but I hope that the committee will approve this bill with the addition of the recently proposed substitute language in order to bring much-needed reform to the district.

Now before I go further, I would first like to commend the professional and heroic service that the Thompsonville Fire District provides to the people of Enfield. During the past two years, they have bravely fought two horrific fires within the Thompsonville District. Their grace under pressure brought honor to their department, and their performance was viewed as noteworthy by many throughout Connecticut.

They also selfishly raised funds and resources this past holiday season for lower-income families who lost their homes during the most recent of these two horrific fires; thus nothing regarding the proposed bill here today has anything to do with the firefighters who serve honorably, day in and day out, in Thompsonville and throughout greater Enfield.

Instead, today's bill has everything to do with the fact that the taxpayers of Thompsonville had their yearly vote on their budget wrongly taken away from them, and this bill intends to restore their vote and provide much-needed reforms. This bill was about fairness, community engagement, and fixing a broken governing system.

Last year district commissioners and fire district leaders decided to go ahead and build a new fire station, after voters voted down two referendums on this proposal. In order to build this new fire station, the district purchased property from the Town of Enfield. Last April, I pled with the town, Enfield Town Council to not sell this land until the town required a referendum on the proposed fire station. But the council, by a 7-to-4 vote decided to ignore their constituents and go ahead with the land sale without a referendum.

Since at least the 1970s, district taxpayers were allowed to vote on the budget during a yearly, evening meeting, in May. There is nothing in Thompsonville's Special Act Charter that allows this vote, and the district has no bylaws; however, the district faithfully allowed this vote for many, many years. In response to taxpayer outrage regarding the proposal fire station, the commissioners and district leaders decided this past year to not allow the taxpayers to vote on the yearly budget. This prompted the taxpayers to form a grassroots organization to fight to restore their right to vote on the yearly budget; many of them are behind me today.

Many, this group tirelessly fund-raised by soliciting for donations and conducting local tag sales in order to hire an attorney to sue in Connecticut Superior Court in order to seek injunctive relief that would have gotten their vote back. Unfortunately, a Superior Court judge ruled that the taxpayers did not have standing to sue and, therefore, the taxpayers are asking you to restore their right to vote by supporting this proposed bill.

The language in the current bill has a three percent budgetary trigger on their right to vote, and the substitute language that I support does not have this trigger. I will not comment about this due to the lack of time, but I would gladly answer any questions about this.

The proposed bill also extends the number of commissioners from three to five. The other four districts in Enfield have five or more commissioners, and the Thompsonville District has had numerous procedural and political problems due to having only three commissioners.

On this past Wednesday night, the district voted to pass a resolution in support of the five commissioners. But I feel amending the special act is needed because in light of not having any bylaws, this resolution might not be viewed as legally binding.

The proposed bill also provides for all-day voting for fire district elections, and currently the district votes at a scheduled 6 p.m. meeting. Due to work commitments, many taxpayers are unable to vote at this time, and allowing all-day voting will allow more people to participate in district business and increase a sense of open government.

Finally, I have supporting substitute language allowing property owners who own their property as an LLC in the district to have one vote in district elections. Currently, the district allows property owners who own their property in a partnership to vote; in fact, each partner within the partnership are allowed to vote. Now partnerships and LLCs are forms of co-ownership of property, and it does not make sense to me to allow one form of co-ownership to vote and not another.

A modern trend is for co-owners of property to form LLCs in order to limit liability, and other districts in Enfield already allow LLCs to have one vote in elections. But this should be noted: This right to vote should only be limited to one, singular vote per LLC, per individual. For example, a person who owns five LLCs in a district should not be allowed to have five votes, per se, in elections.

In closing, the taxpayers of Thompsonville have not been treated fairly over the past few years. A new firehouse is scheduled to be built without any taxpayer engagement or input. The right to vote on the yearly budget was wrongly taken away. And there has been many legitimate questions regarding district mismanagement that have gone unanswered by district leaders.

H.B. 5541 will restore the right to vote to the taxpayers and provide much-needed reforms that will increase taxpayer participation and open government. For the sake of fairness, justice, and good government, I ask you to support H.B. 5541, with the proposed substitute language.

I will gladly answer any questions.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you, very much.

Are there any questions or comments?

Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO: So the bill that's in front of us now is different than what you're testifying to; is that correct?

REP. ALEXANDER: Yes, Senator. I added proposed, substitute language later, after I submitted the original bill work with the -- the committee for the bill.

What was going on was fluid negotiations amongst different constituencies involved in the process, and that's why we are where we are. It kind of came up to the end where all the constituencies, in my opinion, it felt would make the most sense, most fair sense to pull, take out that three percent trigger and also add in the LLC vote.

SENATOR FASANO: So any increase in the budget would require it or how would that work? Would it require a vote?

REP. ALEXANDER: Sure. The original concept was a three-percent-or-more increase in the yearly budget would require a referendum. That would be approximately $170,000 -- $117,000, due to the talking, the decision with the taxpayers. And the reason I -- I was putting that in, I was concerned about the emotions in the area; it's a very emotional topic.


REP. ALEXANDER: A lot of these taxpayers feel, rightfully so, that they've been wronged numerous times and can't find a forum to -- to seek justice, if you will. And I was concerned maybe they would look at the budget more in an emotional frame than good or bad. But in consult and take and talking to the taxpayers, discussing why I put the trigger in, why this was maybe a good idea, I have a sense that that is not a concern, that they will make a level-headed judgment during this election and that a three percent trigger would not be needed. So at that point, I proposed a substitute language, taking that trigger out.

SENATOR FASANO: And I understand your position -- in terms of the Representative -- the voice that you bring forward.

The other concern I have is the LLC issue. I, you know, that to me is a very confusing issue. If -- if Len Fasano comes up and votes; you look; you know who Len Fasano is. If I say I represent the LLC and you let me vote and then Representative Aman shows up five minutes later and says I represent that LLC, and they say no, no, Len just voted. And he says, well, he has no authority to vote. That gives me some pause.

In addition, it seems like if I had one LLC -- strike that. If I had, if I had numerous, different LLCs, I'd be entitled to vote, but if I had one LLC per property, I'd only be entitled to vote once. So I'd be, it'd just -- I don't know how you corral that to make sure it's a fair vote. That gives me some speculations to problems.

REP. ALEXANDER: No, Senator Fasano; I respect your point. I remember we discussed this last year in --


REP. ALEXANDER: -- this exact hearing, and -- and I get where you are coming from on that; and it is a tricky issue.

In my opinion, like I mentioned, if you own a partnership, you're allowed to vote; that's a form of co-ownership. But LLC you don't, doesn't make sense to me. With that being said, I know for a fact the Enfield and Hazardville Districts allow LLCs to vote, and they basically leave it up to the LLC to figure it out. And it's basically a first-come, first-serve. So if a member of that LLC shows up to vote -- I represent this LLC; I want to vote -- you vote. If someone comes in later trying to vote, they're disallowed from voting.


REP. ALEXANDER: And it's interesting. Actually in Enfield, there are people who own LLCs in both districts that vote in both districts; that's how it's been working, but not in Thompsonville.

SENATOR FASANO: Okay. All right; thank you. I appreciate it; thank you, so much.

SENATOR OSTEN: Excuse me. Are there any other questions or comments?

Seeing none, thank you very much.

REP. ALEXANDER: Thank you, Madam Chair.

SENATOR OSTEN: All right. Next up -- we'll start on the public -- is a Judy Greiman.

And just so everybody knows, people come in and out because there are a variety of other committees that are going on. And there are votes taking place in other places that people have to weigh into, so almost everybody is on three or four committees.

Thank you.

JUDITH B. GREIMAN: Thank you. Good morning, Senator Osten, and members of the committee.

I'm here on behalf of the member institutions of the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges, and I'm here in opposition to House Bill 5583. You have a booklet that outlines much of what our schools are already doing and paying in their local communities. It's a fairly incredible array, and we will continue to add to that as the session goes on.

At the outset, I just want to, I think it's critical to emphasize that tax-exempt status is not a loophole; it is deliberate and sound national and state policy that recognizes that nonprofit institutions serve the public good. It is grounded in over 200 years of history and applicable in all 50 states.

Connecticut does not stand out in its grant of the exemption; Connecticut does stand out in how we deal with it, which is we have a PILOT program. And the program is unique. In almost every other state there's no state payment to towns for the revenue that would have otherwise come in from tax-exempt institutions. We have it right. We shouldn't end a policy that works when funded appropriately and that is the envy of other states.

What we need to do is to fully fund the PILOT program at the statutory level. This bill threatens that model program and comes at a time when colleges and universities are facing daunting financial stresses. The proposal would exacerbate these challenges and would put jobs, financial aid, investments in economic development, and philanthropic donations at risk. Student need continues at the highest levels since 2008, and we have cut programs, delayed projects, and taken various other belt-tightening measures to add to the financial aid line in our budgets.

Please reflect on the impact of nonprofit colleges on the state. There's much in my written testimony, but some of the highlights: We have 22,000 employees, 78,000 students, 200,000 alumni living in the state, 43 percent of all degrees awarded in the state come from the independent college sector, and we're magnets for visitors who come into those host towns, into the region, into the state, spending their dollars.

Connecticut needs a strong, independent college sector to meet our degree needs, and we hope that you will consider the multilayered and positive impact of our sector on Connecticut and the serious financial impact of this proposal on our institutions as you decide whether to support this -- this bill. There is another option, and that's to fund the PILOT program which has worked from, since 1978.

I also just want to make a -- a brief comment on the leverage issue, this notion that the bill says that we would negotiate with all of our mayors and -- and somehow use leverage. We -- we wouldn't have leverage because we are actually institutions that are anchor tenants; we don't leave. We don't pack our bags. So and we've seen in this state, we've seen across the country corporations that do negotiations for tax exemptions, and when they don't get what they want, they leave. We're not packing up but I guess we could shut down, which I don't think would serve the state. I don't think it would serve our education needs or our student needs. And I -- I just, my final comment on that is I think that it also would leave institutions in a completely unequal nature across the, across the state in terms of what their, how each individual municipality would negotiate with those institutions.

So, again, I would urge you to look to the one program that this state has that is really the envy of other states and to fund appropriately. When the PILOT program is funded at the right level, we don't really have these issues.

Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Either way, it's taxes that are being paid to fund the PILOT program, so I would just make that point.


SENATOR OSTEN: So, Representative Aman.

REP. AMAN: In -- in this discussion, while you didn't address it directly, one of the things that has come up on a regular basis in other discussions I've had with people is the fact that the nonprofits and the colleges are expanding out to more and more services that aren't directly educational related. And just to use a simple one, your college decides that they want a gym facility, a health club and so they put in something equivalent to LA Fitness; they do not pay taxes on it. LA Fitness opens the same building across the street and they do pay taxes on it.

And I think this is one of the concerns with the municipalities is yes, the straight classroom, the research and things tied directly to education is one category, but when you see colleges especially expanding into all sort of auxiliary services, that yes, their students may need but aren't directly educational is taking more property off the tax rolls. How do you address that real, major problem?

JUDITH B. GREIMAN: I think that there, they're, I would say, two different things. One is that there are a number of properties that colleges do have that are not within the realm of education and they pay property taxes. In many cases you'll find that some of my institutions are some of, among the largest taxpayers in the, in their towns because they do have some noneducational properties.

There are some sort of, well, court cases and -- and other laws that -- that look at other properties in terms of whether they meet the educational requirement. And I don't think that anybody is, you know, sneaking something in there. The -- the health and fitness of students is, in fact, important. If there is a -- a facility that is purely noneducational, taxes are being paid.

REP. AMAN: Okay. I, and I -- I just used that because while you consider the health and fitness of the students to be an educational purpose, obviously LA Fitness or Planet whatever, et cetera, are serving that same function for the students but are paying taxes. And I, again, it goes right down to many of the services that are now a part of the schools and colleges.

We see the same thing in the hospitals, where they're expanding to more and more services out of their traditional role of hospitals because it does directly serve the health needs of their patients. But it, again, it takes more and more property off the tax rolls. So I think if, and the committee probably has also got to look at some of those, definition of what is an educational purpose and what is not.

Thank you, very much.


Are there any other questions?

Thank you, very much. Appreciate it.

Is a Representative Srinivasan here? Yep.

Next would be Representative Demicco -- I saw you come in -- are you bringing up with you --

REP. DEMICCO: (Inaudible.)

SENATOR OSTEN: Okay; thank you.

If you could please all identify yourself for the record.

REP. DEMICCO: Well, perhaps I'll start, Madam Chair. I'm Mike Demicco, State Representative from the 21st District, Farmington.

KATHLEEN A. EAGEN: I'm Kathy Eagen, the Town Manager of Farmington.

PAUL J. MELANSON: Paul Melanson, the Police Chief of Farmington.

MARY-ELLEN L. HARPER: Mary-Ellen Harper, the Director of Fire and Rescue Services for Farmington.

REP. DEMICCO: As you can see, Farmington is very concerned about this bill that we're going to speak on --


REP. DEMICCO: -- today, Madam Chair.



Good morning, Senator Osten, and distinguished members of the Planning and Development Committee. I'm State Representative Mike Demicco, from Farmington, and the others have introduced themselves.

I thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony in support of Raised Bill 5580, which is Item No. 2 on your agenda, and specifically dealing or talking about Sections 4 through 8, regarding the recommendations of the Emergency Medical Services Primary Service Area Task Force. And I would note that Ms. Harper, to my extreme left, was one of the co-chairs of that task force and did a fine job.

Pursuant to Public Act 13-306, the EMS PSA Task Force was created, charged with reviewing the current process for designating and changing primary service areas and the process by which municipalities may petition the Department of Public Health for a change or removal or a PSA responder. The task force concluded its work last month and submitted its final report to the Legislature's Public Health Committee. The report contained five recommendations regarding EMS plans and the PSA responders, but the bill subsequently raised by the Public Health Committee -- and that was House Bill 5542 -- omitted the 5th and arguably the most important recommendation having to do with the alternative provision of PSA responsibilities.

In contrast, the bill before this committee today -- Raised Bill 5580 -- contains all five of the task force's recommendations, thus making it a stronger and more efficacious proposal. Recommendation No. 5, which is contained in Section 8 of the bill before you, states that municipalities shall have the right to submit a local EMS plan for consideration to the DPH for the alternative provision of primary service area responsibilities. It outlines a hearing process and it further states that the Department of Public Health shall reassign the PSA in accordance with the local EMS plan if the hearing results in a favorable review of the alternative provision for the primary service area responsibilities.

Now, as you may know, Madam Chair, and committee members, the current system of PSA assignments is essentially a monopoly, and monopolies generally do not foster good government. Now, under the current system, municipalities are assigned an EMS provider by the Department of Public Health and absent any extraordinary circumstances, they are obliged to keep that provider indefinitely. Under the current system, municipalities are not allowed to bid out their EMS service and they're thus precluded from searching for a better or more economical or more efficient provider, one which may better suit the needs of their residents or one which may result in opportunities for regional efficiencies. And as we've heard this morning, regional efficiencies are what we're all about.

Under the current system, there's no notion of market competition and thus no incentive to improve the quality of service. In the course of legislative public hearings held in 2013 and 2014, numerous municipal officials expressed a desire to improve the current system of PSA assignments, and the provisions contained in Sections 4 through 8 of Raised Bill 5580 will bring about those improvements. And I would respectfully ask the Planning and Development Committee to favorably report this bill.

And I thank you for your consideration.


Good morning. I'm Kathy Eagen, the Town Manager of the Town of Farmington. And I understand your time constraints today, so I -- I'm not going to read my testimony.

But I just wanted to just give you a brief story of kind of my understanding of this, and it was brought to my attention, pretty much back in 2011, when the Town of Farmington wanted to go out to improve their ambulance service in the Town of Farmington. And I asked the chief of police here, and our director of fire and rescue services to start putting together a bid document for me or to start talking to our -- our current ambulance provider to find out how much it would cost to add some time for our ambulances during the peak hours. And we got, I got a price back from our ambulance provider of $63,000. Now, for $63,000, I asked where we got that price from, what it, where did this number come from and is this is good price or is this a bad price. And as town manager, I had no idea what to market this off of, and this was difficult for me to understand.

At that time, I asked Mary-Ellen and the chief here to possibly go out to bid. And we were told by the Department of Public Health that we're not allowed to go out for, to bid with this, which again, in my mind is just, does not seem like good practice or good business. How do I know that this is a good price? How do I know I'm getting a good deal? And overall, in Farmington, I'm not allowed to award a $63,000 contract without going out to bid.

So I went to the Department of Public Health, in August of 2011, and I met the branch chief, Lenny Guercia. And basically I was told at that time that you're absolutely right, you cannot go out to bid; you can petition to remove your ambulance service, but really at that time we had no reason to want to petition to remove our ambulance service. I was just looking to try to see to improve the service and what my price was. So I didn't want to petition to remove them, and honestly, to this day, I still don't want to remove them. That's not, that's not my objective from being here today.

But he really said it. And he said, Listen, this is the law. This is the regulation, and if you want something done, you have to change it. And that's the avenue you're at. And that's why I'm here today is because of that. So I come to you today, following the very path that the DPH has recommended that I pursue in order to offer an improved level of service to my community.

In 2012, and in 2013, our state representatives put forward a proposed legislation to allow municipalities the ability to enhance EMS services within their community, Public Act 13-306, which was signed into law by the Governor in July 2013. And this established this task force that Mary-Ellen Harper was a co-chair on.

The report offers five recommendations, all of which have the formal group's support of DPH in the form the final votes of each of the recommendations. Recommendation 5, which is most important to me, personally, is the alternate provision of EMA, EMS services, speaks to the very issues that were brought, I brought to the DPH in 2011. While Recommendation 5 doesn't guarantee a municipality the right to make change, it does offer an avenue for us to have our concerns heard and to have a regulatory body make a ruling about what is the best interest of our communities and the patients we serve.

The Town of Farmington has actively been working for almost four years to affect changes to the EMS PSA system in Connecticut. We've worked within your system to create a mechanism for a municipality to be able to make changes to the EMS provider in their community in order to provide an improved level of service. We've created a system of checks and balances and oversight in concern with DPH. We've done everything that the state has asked us to do to be allowed to make improvements to EMS within our community.

And now I ask you all to show faith in both its municipal officials and the state DPH by approving H.B. 5580, which includes all five recommendations from the EMS PSA Task Force final report. The current PSA system is essentially a monopoly, and monopolies are not good business.

Thank you.

I'm just -- Paul Melanson, our Chief is just going to make some brief comments, and that's

-- that's it. That's it. No, I'm just --

PAUL J. MELANSON: (Inaudible.)

KATHLEEN A. EAGEN: Oh, you're set? We're set.

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any questions?

Thank you, very much. Thank you, very much, for all coming up together. You're all set, but thank you --


SENATOR OSTEN: -- so much.

A VOICE: Thanks.

SENATOR OSTEN: Next, as a member of the public, is Scott Andrews, followed by Representative Srinivasan. I'm getting a little bit better at names.

SCOTT ANDREWS: Good morning, Senator Osten, and members of the Planning and Development Committee.

My name is Scott Andrews. I'm the Executive Director for Seymour Ambulance Association, in Seymour. I've been in the emergency medical services field for approximately 31 years now, and I first started my career as a volunteer EMT in my community's ambulance service. I've worked for large and small for-profit services and I know lead Seymour Ambulances, which is a -- a not-for-profit service.

I'm here today to speak on Raised House Bill 5580 and specifically to speak on Recommendations 1 through 5. I believe that the task force that was put in place did a phenomenal job in what they did, and for them to get consensus on Recommendations 1 through 4 was great. And I think that it will serve the EMS community extremely well, since this legislation is the first true legislation that will move EMS forward in ten-or-so years.

My concerns are in Recommendation No. 5. I do not disagree that municipalities should have the right to choose their EMS provider, but my concern with Recommendation No. 5 is that when you have the purposes that are stated in the manner that they're stated, such as delivering efficiency -- I'm sorry -- efficient emergency medical services, allocating resources more efficiently, aligning with a new emergency medical service provider better suited to meet the community's current needs; those aren't measurable criteria and they're subject to a wide range of interpretation.

The other recommendations that were put in place, 1 through 4, have measurable criteria built into them. This particular recommendation does not -- excuse me -- and my concern is that a provider may not be chosen for the right reason or a change may not be made for the right reason, and it may not have anything to do with patient care or cost efficiencies. I believe that it's important for a PSA provider to be chosen based upon their ability to provide good patient care in cost-efficient manners.

In closing, I'm just requesting that you vote in favor of Recommendations 1 through 4, as presented but remove Section 8 from the bill, which includes Recommendation No. 5, until further research can be done to get a better understanding of its impact on the entire EMS system.

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any questions?

Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO: Just so I understand, let me back up. You -- you don't or you're okay with the ability of the municipality to weigh in on the issue.


SENATOR FASANO: Is that correct?


SENATOR FASANO: But your concern is, is that the criteria for which they can weigh -- weigh in, if they say, for example, we don't believe you're doing the most effective manner in which providing the emergency service, that sort of blanket word, phrase, without a definition sort of puts you in a defensive mode to say, I think I am. And then wherever conversation goes from there it goes. And your concern is that sort of -- in my words, not yours, and I don't mean to --


SENATOR FASANO: -- put them in your mouth -- but that there could be an arbitrariness of the municipality to use the words like "effectiveness" and "proper" and so forth without identifying it and cast you in a dim light without really telling you what the problems are. Is that the concern that you have?

SCOTT ANDREWS: Yeah; that's a very good summary of my thoughts.

SENATOR FASANO: So if we were to, as a committee -- I don't know if we can, if we, if we will -- but if we were, theoretically, to define that so the -- the municipality has a right to weigh in but perhaps in a more substantive manner. Would you be okay with that, if we quantified that? I know, and I know I'm asking a difficult question because the language is not in front of you, and I --


SENATOR FASANO: -- get that. Being a lawyer, I understand that. But if there was some quantifying element to that and maybe -- bad words -- but more of a, of a burden on the municipality to demonstrate that as opposed to just put it out there and make it stick, more of a burden on that side to say what is inadequate, either by example or by best practice papers.

The Naugatuck group said there was no ambulance driver and there was two people in the back. I don't know if best practice is only to have two people in that vehicle; I don't know this. But what if they had that sort of burden of not just saying it but to demonstrate it substantively and the language was adjusted as such, would you still have an objection?

SCOTT ANDREWS: No. My -- my objection is based upon, for Recommendation No. 5, as it's presented in your language is based upon a subjective nature of the language --


SCOTT ANDREWS: -- itself.

SENATOR FASANO: An amorphous thing.

SCOTT ANDREWS: Just it's too broad.


SCOTT ANDREWS: It's -- it's just --

SENATOR FASANO: -- amorphous thing that you can't get your hands around, and they're words --

SCOTT ANDREWS: That's correct.

SENATOR FASANO: -- that tend to demonstrate a dim view without your ability to really understanding what the problem is.


SENATOR FASANO: I thank you. And I thank you for your service; I really do. Thank --


SENATOR FASANO: -- you very much.

Madam Chair.

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any other questions?

Seeing none, thank you, very much.

SCOTT ANDREWS: Thank you for the opportunity.

SENATOR OSTEN: Representative Srinivasan is next, followed by Rich Calarco.

REP. SRINIVASAN: Good afternoon, Chairwoman Senator Osten, Vice Chair Representative Fox, Ranking Member Senator Fasano, and distinguished members of the Planning and Development Committee. I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to be in front of you for the second time in this very short session; I appreciate that very much.

And I'm here in strong support of House Bill 5580. I want to thank you for raising this bill for our, for our public hearing today, the -- AN ACT CONCERNING PESTICIDE ADVISORY COUNCIL, RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES PRIMARY SERVICE AREA TASK FORCE AND THE ELIMINATION OF THE MUNICIPAL MANDATE.

In the time allotted to me, I'm going to touch upon the recommendations of the Emergency Medical Services Primary Service Task Force -- Area. I want to thank the task force for their work earlier this year and to come up with these recommendations, the five recommendations we have just heard about. And I want to thank this committee in -- in House Bill 5580, for raising all the five recommendations that have been discussed extensively at the task force.

And as we heard before, from the previous speakers, one to four recommendations have been pretty unanimous. It's the fifth one that there is a lot of discussion and a lot of debate about. In my mind, if you look at the current PSA system that we have, it is over 40 years old and it is time for us to look at it and look at it in a way that it is efficient in 2014 and moving forward. And that's what the task force did, looked at the various factors that were involved and came up with their recommendations, the five recommendations of the task force.

And when I look at this fifth recommendation, I look at it as an opportunity of choice. Now, our town managers are responsible, elected people, officials of towns, cities, and communities. They determine how police, fire work, the fire, public works, and all of those important services are determined by the cities and towns. Only one thing they do not have control on, and that one is the emergency medical services. And that kind of boggles your mind if the elected town officials, if the town manager can make appropriate decisions in every other area, police and fire, and of course the other areas that the town managers as well, why not such an important one as the emergency medical services?

We're looking at choice and any responsible person will not make a move just for making a move or making a change. Change is made because change is needed; that is how you, me, and all of us in this room, responsible adults act. And so if a municipality feels that it is in their right interest, it is in the best interest to look for an alternate provider, that is all that they're asking for.

There is oversight. Just because a town manager, like in my town, from Glastonbury decides that he wants to move from person A to person B, he cannot do it automatically; there is oversight. There is a process that he has to apply to DPH and then sit down and have their discussions and negotiations with them.

So Recommendation 5 essentially gives us choice, choices as an adult, choices as a responsible adult to come up with a plan and then have the appropriate oversight as well. In the public hearings we had down in Public Health, where I'm the Ranking Member, we asked the questions that if this, all these recommendations were to move forward, would there be a long line of towns and municipalities, of the 169 towns that we have in our state, standing in line in front of DPH with their application process. And the answer we heard was loud and clear. Not at all; at the most, just a handful. Of course, this is just what I'm repeating, what I heard at the public hearings earlier last, earlier this week.

So my request to you is -- I want to thank you, first, for raising this bill in its entirety, bringing up all the five recommendations -- and I hope for the right reason, the right reason being choice in a very educated way, choices made by responsible people, they'll be an alternative at each and every town, each and every municipality will have moving forward.

I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to -- to be in front of you this afternoon.

And it'd be my privilege to answer any questions you may have.

Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you very much for coming. And thank you for everything you do.

Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO: Representative Srinivasan, thank you for coming here.

Just, so you heard from at least one person who -- who spoke sort of against the bill, with respect to Section 5. And looking at the bill, I'm beginning to find some of the areas that I think the concerns are raised; which is, well, let me throw it this way: If a municipality were to write an emergency plan, in other words, the response time is X, you'll have this much in the terms of employees, whatever else -- I don't know enough about it to talk about the details -- but if they were to write something like that and then the PSA person or companies then responsible to meet those standards, at least there's an objective comparison. They didn't respond 80 percent of the time in three minutes after a 9-1-1 call, or they didn't have enough people, or they didn't have the right defibrillator on the thing, whatever.

Absent that sort of plan that's written for which one could compare the incidences to, there's legitimate concern, that I think, if there's an arbitrariness, because maybe there's a personality conflict; that if I was in business and I was doing a PSA in North Haven and dumped a lot of service, a lot of money in, to capitalize it, but through arbitrariness, if you may, I was tossed out a year-and-a-half later because I met some standard that I really wasn't aware of, and now I'm on the defensive to prove that it was arbitrary because there's no standard. If we were to take this bill and sort of indicate that there has to be a standard which applicable to have the good cause to remove, would that be something still in line with what you're thinking or you think that that goes too far?

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thanks, Senator Fasano, for -- for bringing up the very important point -- and I've given that aspect that you've just brought up a lot of thought -- that if standards are set, standards are set (a) and those standards are met -- and these are standards that we can, you know, to give the concerned parties, you know, the -- the stakeholders can be at the table, arrive at, I mean would discuss first and then come to a conclusion and an agreement, these are standards that need to be met. Even if they are met, and -- and I'm, and -- and you've heard this, you know, from, not from the previous speaker but the one before that, that nobody is in a big rush here to change their provider; a lot of us are very happy with the provider that we have.

But it is a choice that we do not have, and so if all of those criteria are met, No. 1, and in that case a town manager may decide or the, or the town council may decide that these were the criteria we wanted, the criteria have all been met, let's even say a hundred percent in a -- so it's an imperfect world -- but even if you give 80, 90 percent of this criteria have been met, we are satisfied; they may not take it to the next step at all. They're responsible citizens. They are running a town. They're running a municipality and for police, already for fire or whatever that is. So this is no different in my opinion and I do not see a reason where multi and several towns are just going to stand in line, as I said earlier, in front of DPH.

But if they're not able to meet those criteria and the town manager and the town council in their infinite wisdom find that they would rather go to somebody else -- and hopefully it's not for personality reasons; hopefully it's not for financial reasons; it's all for if right reasons, which is the service to the town that they service -- that they an option, not unilaterally. The town cannot just decide and a municipality cannot decide that I -- I'm going to go from A to B or A to C and do that every six months or one year and create such a confusion and a chaos, because as you correctly said, some of these PSA services have invested a lot of money, a lot of capital in the system that they have. So we cannot be nilly-dilly, going place A to place B, but we have a system in process.

You go to DPH and you outline, and DPH is going to involve all the stakeholders. They're going to involve the town. They're going to involve the present PSA holder, the -- the person who holds their license, and of course, you know, they are going to discuss and see what can be best arrived at. And it may be just a telling to the PSA provider that these criterias that the town wants, you are not able to meet and you need to step up that particular requirement. All we are saying is give us the choice. Give the town a choice of how best to deal with all their services, including emergency medical services.

A VOICE: (Inaudible.)


SENATOR FASANO: Heart and soul, five, I'm with giving town the choice. But I'm also on the edge of saying that -- that you should have the choice and if they meet the criteria, the PSA should continue, because they relied upon that. I just want to make sure that the criteria that we're all talking about, we have a meeting of the minds as to what they criteria is, so if it is laid out, there's no misunderstanding to what I thought and what you thought, and I know what I have to do. And if I meet that, I should continue; if I don't, perhaps I should be tossed.

But if there's no criteria and it's in my mind what I think is a good practice and you may say in your mind, especially with your background that's not a good practice, I should know that.


SENATOR FASANO: And that's all I'm trying to get to. But I agree there should be a choice. I agree a town should weigh in. I think they're best to know what serves their people, and that's the voice we need at the table.

On the other side of the equation, I want to make sure the folks delivering it have the fair opportunity of understanding what the deal is so that they can meet the standards without it blowing up one day, I guess. So I think we're there.


SENATOR FASANO: I get what you're saying.

Thank you.

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you, Senator.

SENATOR OSTEN: Representative Aman.

REP. AMAN: Yes, just a quick question. Thank you for coming forward.

When you're talking about the standards that they have to meet, are financial conditions or charges to the town part of the standard? And I'm looking at a town that's receiving a good service from a particular provider. A provider from a neighboring community comes in and says I can provide equal and/or better service, and I have been for your adjoining community but at a much lower cost to the town. Would that be something that could go to Public Health or would that financial consideration not be looked at, just the quality of service?

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you, Representative Aman for bringing up that. It is; it is an important criteria in this day and age. And obviously when you look at that total picture and you look at services, services that should not be compromised at all and the full standards are met, and you have, you have your responsibility, both moral and legal to the town that you serve, then when those criteria are met, we will also be, every town, like it does for anything and everything else, will be looking at, looking at what it is going to cost me for those services to be rendered. So if there is a provider as -- as you said, coming from the next town and provides equally good service and is guaranteeing that all of those criteria that are important to me, important to my town manager, those criteria are met, that would be something to -- to discuss, to negotiate in this day and age, bearing very well in mind that in no way is the bottom line driving the any kind of services where compromise is made as far as rendering the services are concerned.

So that will definitely be, the financial -- financial component will be, will be, as it should be, a part of what the town manager is going to look at in his overall budget, as he does in anything and everything else as well.

REP. AMAN: Okay.

Thank you, very much, for coming forward.

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you, Representative Aman.

SENATOR OSTEN: Any further questions or comments?

Seeing none, thank you very much for coming today; appreciate it.

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you. And you definitely are pronouncing my name a lot better, and I appreciate that.

Thank you, very much.

SENATOR OSTEN: I'm working on it. I'm working on it.

REP. SRINIVASAN: By the time I come up to you the next time, you will have it correct.


REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you; I appreciate it.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you, very much.

Richard Calarco will be followed by Richard Johnson.

RICHARD J. CALARCO: Thank you, Senator Osten, and members of the Planning and Development Committee. I'm here in support of Bill 5580, and in particular, I'm going to talk about the advisory board and the support of the web site on the bill.

Just for a little information, on your -- and you have my testimony in front of you -- I'm just going to give a little bit of highlights and let you know my -- my background.

I was able to work with the M.O.R.E. Commission on this committee, on a subcommittee to support this bill. I feel it's a scientific way to address a big issue that has been faced with our towns for approximately ten years.

One of the things, just in my background, so you know, I'm the Director of Parks and Recreation in Hebron. I'm a pesticide license; I have a credit in organic care, and I'm also a certified sport field manager. I'm very proud of that. I'm one of two people in the state of Connecticut that has that. It's from a national organization for one of the founding fathers; there's a Mr. Toma who actually has done 48 Super Bowls and as the turf manager of it. It's a high, based on education, experience, and a comprehensive test. And one of the things we have to do is -- besides taking credits -- is to give back to our community and organizations. That's one of the things I do as president, through many workshops for different people.

This group that we're supporting would be to form this advisory crew, what essentially is, in the committee, is the make up of our scientists and turf manager professors that are at our universities. I had the privilege of serving years ago on this advisory group and further move it forward, that these people would be perfect for us to have the scientists to rule what we can use and not use and working with our DEP department. This would give real data and real information which should be used and takes away any would-be, could-be, can-bes.

This would, an example would is I have a grass on my infield, one of my infields. I would go to the committee and the committee will give us a report, is it okay for us to use this particular product. And, in turn, one of the things would be is yea or nay. It would also set thresholds, how much of this product should be there, what products could be used, what cultural means could be used. It would also, let's say, okay, you can do this but you have to do this at this time or you have to not allow anyone on the, on this playing surface for so many hours, on a reentry rule.

That's how I see this committee working; I see it providing, also, education by letting us perform their facts and stuff. I called them many, many times for information. You need to know our university -- and I deal with a lot of national committees that I serve on for my sport turf manager -- is one of the leading turf industries or universities in the country, in the country. It ranks right up there with all the top ones, and we should be very proud of that. Our experimental stations are -- are topnotch, and yet we're not using this resource. This advisory committee would move this forward to enable these; these are our state employees. To me, it's a no-brainer. This is something we should just use these expertise; divide it.

Furthermore, we brought forward to utilize something similar, where Massachusetts has a web site in which you can develop your plans; it would truly help towns. I have, you know, I have a lot of turf experience. I still utilize many trainings and things. This will provide additional resources for us to have to be able to go and look up what other town plans are and to be able to develop and provide further education to it.

You know, in conclusion, and very similarly, I just feel that let science be our reason why we're doing this. I highly thank the M.O.R.E. Commission for moving this forward, and I thank you for considering this bill.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thanks for coming, Rich.

I think I've met you before out on the Hebron fields, up at RHAM High School, and you have the fields across the street there?

RICHARD J. CALARCO: That's one of our parks, yes. We maintain --


RICHARD J. CALARCO: -- (inaudible) them.

SENATOR OSTEN: And you think that this would help out with the situation that was going on at RHAM?

RICHARD J. CALARCO: Yes. One of the things right now, to be honest with you, there's certain products, and these products are -- are classified as 25(b) products, which are exempt products by EPA and we're allowed to use. And the difficulty with these products is -- is, No. 1, there's no toxicity test on them; okay? This committee would revise that and give recommendations. And, No. 2, the other thing is that this committee would provide the education it needs for RHAM.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you, very much.

Are there any questions?

Thank you, very much --


SENATOR OSTEN: -- for taking your time and coming up today; really appreciate it.


SENATOR OSTEN: Richard Johnson will be followed by Ray Favreau.

RAY FAVREAU: Good afternoon, Chairs Senator Osten, Senator [sic] Rojas, and Ranking Member Senator Fasano, and Representative Aman, and all the members of the Planning and Development Committee.

My name is Ray Favreau. I am a member of the Legislative Committee for the Connecticut Recreation Parks Association, Incorporated, or CRPA, and also the Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of South Windsor, about to complete my 28th year of service to that great community.

CRPA represents about 600 individual professionals, from municipal, nonprofit, private, park, recreation, and camps' associations, as well as a-hundred-and-twenty-eight of the 169 communities here in the state of Connecticut. Also please note that we're joined today in our testimony with the Connecticut Parks Association, our previous speaker, Mr. Calarco, as well as the Connecticut Association of Schools, and its sister organization, the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference. This consists of more than 1,000 public and parochial, elementary, middle, and high schools, in addition to charter, magnet, and technical schools in the state of Connecticut. The CIAC is the portion of the CAS that regulates the interscholastic athletics programs.

I want to thank you, very much, for bringing a balanced approach to the pesticide issue forward with H.B. 5580. All the organizations I previously mentioned like the bill. We like the bill because it creates an unbiased advisory council within the DEEP which would actively monitor both organic and synthetic pesticides for their safe usage in maintaining municipal athletic fields and grounds. We appreciate the fact that it further tasks this council with creating and maintaining a report on best practices regarding the safe and effective use of both organic and synthetic pesticides. We like that the advisory council will take the emotion out of the issue and establish a protocol that's based on science, education, and research, that can be and should be changed with science moving forward.

Park and recreation professionals need and want safe and effective tools when maintaining fields and grounds. We appreciate that this bill would give them these tools to do their job. Rather than repeat some of the comments made by the previous speaker, I'll simply say that CRPA agrees with the Connecticut Parks Association.

We also appreciate that this proposed committee would provide municipalities with guidelines to help reduce the use of toxic substances, whether they are organic or synthetic. We are in a profession to promote, deliver, and positively affect the health and well-being of our constituents.

Connecticut Recreation Parks Association supports an education in science-based approach to field and ground maintenance; therefore, we urge the passage of H.B. 5580.

The passage of H.B. 5580 is definitely a step in the right direction in protecting our children, our playing areas, and the environment. We commend and applaud the M.O.R.E. Mandates group and this committee for this proposed course of action, and we offer our assistance to make this successful.

That concludes my testimony. Thank you, very much, for your time.

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any -- Representative Aman.

REP. AMAN: Yeah. Ray, thank you, very much for coming forward and giving the testimony that we both can understand, and enthusiastically given.

For the members of the committee, I've know Ray for many years, and I don't know anyone who is more protective of children other than the South Windsor Recreation Department. And for you to come forward and say this is in the best interest of the community, best interest of the children, to me has a lot of impact.

RAY FAVREAU: Well, I appreciate --

REP. AMAN: Because I know --

RAY FAVREAU: -- that.

REP. AMAN: -- that if there was any doubt in your mind, you would not be sitting there. So --

RAY FAVREAU: Thank you.

REP. AMAN: -- thank you, very much, for coming forward and advocating for this.

RAY FAVREAU: Thank you, very much.

SENATOR OSTEN: Representative Diminico.

REP. DIMINICO: Thank you, Madam Chair.

Just a couple questions; I'm just curious about the financial impact and also how the effect would be on the -- the efficiency of the maintenance and the quality of the maintenance.

RAY FAVREAU: Well the, I think the financial impact is going to vary community to community. Certainly if the current pesticide band go through, then obviously the products are more expensive, the effectiveness of those products that are available are more expensive. And so I can't give you an exact number, because it depends on how much effort and how much resources each individual community puts into that. But there would be an increase in cost, so yes, it would be a -- a unfunded state mandate.

REP. DIMINICO: Okay. And what about the quality of the -- the maintenance, the end product; what would be the result?

RAY FAVREAU: Well, right now we've got proven facts that the conditions of the athletic fields maintained strictly organically, without the use of any of the necessary products that might be synthetic, they're not as effective and they don't withstand the same wear and tear that more conventional methods or use of IPM actually dictates.

REP. DIMINICO: My thought is along the -- the lines of IPM, because once you get to a certain level -- it may two or three years to -- to get to a certain level -- and then in the long term, the -- the quality may be better and as well as the cost might -- might be improved. Is that a fair statement?

RAY FAVREAU: If you can stay off a field, that would be, that would be wonderful. The problem is many of the communities don't have the inventory of fields to rest them long enough so that pure organics or pure, natural, conventional methods work.

I know in our particular community, they're -- they're being used seven days a week and that they can't take that kind of abuse.

REP. DIMINICO: Thank you.

RAY FAVREAU: You're welcome.

SENATOR OSTEN: Any other questions?

Thank you, very much, for coming.

A Roger Alsbaugh; I'm -- I'm hoping I said your name right. It's a test.

ROGER ALSBAUGH: (Inaudible.)

SENATOR OSTEN: Oh, good then.

ROGER ALSBAUGH: (Inaudible.) First of all --

A VOICE: Just turn on your microphone; so touch that button.

ROGER ALSBAUGH: First of all, Madam Chairman, I'd like to thank you and the other members of the committee for allowing me to speak. I'm not sure if you really understand, but it's a great honor to actually be able to participate in a situation such as this.

I have submitted a -- a written testimony, but our communications with the people who have been representing us have been not perfect, and so we haven't talked as closely as we would have wished.

I want to thank Representative Alexander for what he has done, and even though he said he was not here with anybody, this is his posse. Okay? So we essentially -- and I think I can speak for everybody -- but I am here as a fire commissioner. I am an elected official but I work very closely with the voters and the group that has been fighting to get their vote back.

I'm in my second term, one year into my second term. I have a planning and archeology degree, and I worked as an assistant planner for the Town of Enfield, up until 2010. I'm committed to Thompsonville and the fire district. I have purchased two historic, historical residential homes, and I live in one. So my commitment is -- is quite complete.

I support Representative Alexander's view of the bill, the raised bill; I appreciate you having raised this Bill 5541, and I support the substitute language that he has asked you to consider. I will just briefly go over the important fact that I continue to need to know why this has all happened.

The people have historically voted, and we are now in our third iteration of fire -- fire, new fire houses, all of which were proposed and developed money, development money spent on without people's vote. The first two failed. The second one not only failed but the budget was denied. Now to get the third version through, the board has voted to abridge the voting rights of the people.

Needless to say, I am not one of those commissioners that did that; I voted against it. And everything that we talked about in the preparation of this development process, I was under the -- the assumption that all of it would be going to the people for a vote; that did not happen.

Again, we are, we, I am part of the group that also that raised money -- it's a very, very heart-rending situation that we feel we've endured -- but we raised close to $20,000 to take it to court. It is in court. It is still in the appeals' process. It was recommended to us by our Representative to go through this process, so that's -- that's where we are.

As I said, I support Representative Alexander's interpretation of the bill. There were only two sections, if I may, where I'd like to make a recommendation for you. I'm not sure if you can do it but I would hope that you could consider whether or not you can. In Section 1, I support going to five members, but the bill has always been kind of vague on how things happen. And I'm not sure how you would word it, but the people have spoken that they want to go to five. Everybody gets three years' terms, but that needs to be staggered and staggered in such a way that in no particular year do they have to vote on three open positions; so, what we're looking at, a-two-two-and-one situation. And I don't know how your -- your, the people who craft your bills would -- would put that wording in. Let me see; I guess that -- that solves that section.

The other part is Section 2, subsection (b). I don't think that this is an issue that should be entertained under this bill, raising it to a three percent trigger, as Representative Alexander noted. I hope you realize that -- that the people are concerned that they get their back, their vote back, 100 percent, unabridged, unconditional, so that they can fix what was wrong and to prepare a method and a pathway so it's prevented in the future.

Thank you.

And I would be happy to entertain any questions you might have as -- as a fire commissioner.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you, very much, for coming and speaking. We encourage the public to speak.

And Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO: And yes, we can make changes to the bill after the public hearing, because this public hearing is to get suggestions and then we can change them and bring them out to the committee for a vote. And they can either agree with those changes or not, so I think staggered term makes sense.

The three percent -- let me ask you this -- as a trigger event, it just seems to me three percent is a small margin, the -- the cost for doing a voting procedure is a cost to the town and it, I'm -- I'm trying to put my arms around why three percent as a trigger is such a, an issue. I mean, technically and without any trigger, it can be a dollar over and people just to be upset that there is even any budget can force the town to spend money just because it was 50 cents over. And I kind of, I guess

-- even if it's on budget, I suppose -- I guess I have a problem.

There's some point in time, you as a commission member, and I -- you're new and you must have been post all the events that led up to this --


SENATOR FASANO: -- because we got a big history lesson last year.


SENATOR FASANO: It seems to me there may be some ill will still here and there. And for reasons not necessarily related to the budget, one could argue people could force this to a referendum, which may not be the wisest thing to do. I, I'd like your response to that.

ROGER ALSBAUGH: Well, and I think that that is a valid point and -- and it may be a possibility, but it is not the point of why we have been trying to get our vote back. It's not that we, it's not an issue about whether or not a budget rises. Budgets will rise. They may go down. They may stay equal; that's not the point. The point is our only input into the process as a taxpayer is to individually examine all the budget items.

Now, we know that there is a huge percentage of budget items contractually that we -- we have no control over, and -- and that's through the collective bargaining process and -- and that's done. But the -- the other things, major capital improvement projects, these are not related to whether or not a budget is increased. They are a matter of a right for the people to question --


ROGER ALSBAUGH: -- that budget, every --



SENATOR FASANO: -- if I may, before this bill, you didn't have any rights; a budget, as I, if I, if I remember the testimony last year, a budget was passed. It was passed; that was it. You couldn't do anything about it. Am I correct in that or am I wrong?

ROGER ALSBAUGH: That's true.

SENATOR FASANO: Okay. So under this bill it's like, okay, we're going to give you a right to have a referendum, but we got to put a trigger in it because we don't have to have referendums just to have referendums. We'd have referendums where there's a current budget and if you exceed a certain amount, then we want to allow you to have a referendum, but not just to have a referendum to have a referendum.

And I think what you're saying is, well, Senator, here's the problem. If there was a big capitol budget last year and they could only go three percent, then that capital budget that they had from last year is built into the next budget automatically, and we don't have a right to talk about that. Is that really where you're coming from on, is that the argument?

ROGER ALSBAUGH: That is partially it but not precisely, exactly what I'm talking about either.


ROGER ALSBAUGH: The main issue we have here is the typical right of a board or commission to manipulate the budget, and they, and it's been used in such a way that when budgets have been approved, all of a sudden the money goes to something that wasn't approved.

SENATOR FASANO: Okay; but then why isn't the argument to that, that you're all elected?


SENATOR FASANO: That you are all elected, every one of you.


SENATOR FASANO: And if you as a commission member were part of a team of commission members that approved the budget for capital and the money was used to do something not related to the capital, that I vote you out; you know, much like a town council who does their budget and they're voted in, why could it not be that they're voted out?


SENATOR FASANO: And that's where, you know, we put the three percent trigger on it. I'm not married to this, one way or the other; I'm just sort of devil's advocating this.


SENATOR FASANO: We put a three percent trigger on it, and -- and I want to know what the fear is. And your fear is, well, okay, but they could use the money in the capital for A and do a bait and switch. But then I would think that there'd be a call-out on that member on the, on the board, and people would say, hey, we can't have that person representing that district.

ROGER ALSBAUGH: You bring up a very pertinent point about what is our recourse when something like that happens, and at, and at this point, you're right; we vote people out. However, the deed has been done, and you're also under the assumption that I knew what was going on. And I don't know if it's appropriate here or not to say it, but as far as I'm concerned, there were illegal meetings that I was not concerned with and that -- that decisions were presented at meetings that were legally noticed, where a decision had obviously been made, and I did not participate.

SENATOR FASANO: You did not participate in the meeting?


SENATOR FASANO: Did you know about the --


SENATOR FASANO: -- meetings?

ROGER ALSBAUGH: I did not participate in wherever that decision was made. And if a decision was made amongst the other two commissioners, that was an illegal meeting, because it's if I wasn't there, and it certainly doesn't appear in any of the commission minutes -- and if it was executive session, sure, you wouldn't see it -- but if they made a decision, it would have to be an open session.

SENATOR FASANO: That's (inaudible).

ROGER ALSBAUGH: So that does not appear.

SENATOR FASANO: Is that, is that solved by moving it from three to five or that doesn't solve that?

ROGER ALSBAUGH: To me, I will support what other, whatever the people want, and they feel that five will prevent any sort of obstruction from occurring. But the --


ROGER ALSBAUGH: -- issue is not obstruction of the operation, because it's never obstructed the operation of the, of the fire district, ever; this is an issue of trying to get a vote to oversee the budget in the proper manner so that things are not spent for things that the people did not vote for.

SENATOR FASANO: So, and -- and we have to be careful in this bill that we have a -- a quorum number.



ROGER ALSBAUGH: -- assume the quorum would -- would be, would be a majority of three, to allow (inaudible) --

SENATOR FASANO: I -- I would hope so. I just want to make sure that's in there, so you don't run into a problem.


SENATOR FASANO: You know, it splits up the two that seem --


SENATOR FASANO: -- to be --

ROGER ALSBAUGH: Right. Well, and --



SENATOR FASANO: You can talk freely here but seem to be manipulating, so I just want to make sure that splits that up; that's why I want to make sure we had the quorum of three and we carry that over.

ROGER ALSBAUGH: And -- and --

SENATOR FASANO: Second question -- go ahead.

ROGER ALSBAUGH: I'm sorry. And -- and thank you for bringing that up, because I did forget. One of the issues I'm not sure if you can put in but you can certainly entertain, again, is that when whoever is elected at a meeting should be seated officially at the end of that meeting, at the, at a final agenda item so that they are not participating in anything that beforehand but then they are officially seated and they elect the chair and the secretary treasurer, so that they, we are, so the district will then have a fully prepared and fully seated board for the next regular meeting or should there be a cause for a special meeting to be called prior to that.

And we at this point do not have anything other than a tradition that people are -- are seated and new -- new commissioners are seated at the following meeting in June. And I, and I think that's sloppy when it could be resolved in the formulation of --


ROGER ALSBAUGH: -- the bill.

SENATOR FASANO: -- our staff can get that because it went over my head, so --

ROGER ALSBAUGH: I'm sorry. I -- I talked -- talked and thought about it for so many months, it just zips out. And --


ROGER ALSBAUGH: -- (inaudible) --

SENATOR FASANO: -- take it back one more step and say that one more time, so we can get the notes down and we do it right.

ROGER ALSBAUGH: An additional problem we have in the vagaries of legislation, and we don't have bylaws at this point. And why we don't is another issue; we hope to have them with a citizen's committee. One of the cracks that things can fall between is the fact that we don't have any direction for when a duly elected fire commissioner becomes seated. All we have is a tradition that they --


ROGER ALSBAUGH: They (inaudible) --

SENATOR FASANO: -- let me just back you up, so I understand the issue. Your elections are usually November, are they, or they're --


SENATOR FASANO: -- off-season?

ROGER ALSBAUGH: They're at our annual meeting in May.

SENATOR FASANO: Okay. So you have a -- a meeting in May.

You have your election in May.


SENATOR FASANO: And there's nothing to say within so many days of that election these folks are sworn in and seated.




SENATOR FASANO: So if we were to say before their next meeting, special or regular meeting, a, the person has to be sworn in or they'll -- they'll or (inaudible) come up with the proper language so we -- okay. So we need to add that; is that correct?

ROGER ALSBAUGH: Well, to a degree. I -- I, I'm very uncomfortable with having a, any space between being elected and the possibility of serving. If they are seated officially at the end of the agenda of the annual meeting, then we have a full board, fully ready.

SENATOR FASANO: Okay, so I got --

ROGER ALSBAUGH: Because it's not --

SENATOR FASANO: -- that (inaudible) --

ROGER ALSBAUGH: -- just a June meeting.

SENATOR FASANO: Okay. I -- I know; I got to back you up because we're not all in tune what you guys do.


SENATOR FASANO: So you have an election in May, in May.

ROGER ALSBAUGH: We have an election in the second or third Thursday in May --

SENATOR FASANO: And when is your --

ROGER ALSBAUGH: -- in with the annual, the annual meeting. We elect a commissioner.

SENATOR FASANO: At the annual meeting?

ROGER ALSBAUGH: Yes. We elect --

SENATOR FASANO: Do you tally the votes that night?


SENATOR FASANO: Do you tally the votes --


SENATOR FASANO: -- that night?


SENATOR FASANO: Okay. So this is the one I'm thinking of. This is not a ballot thing; this is your -- what are you guys, going through and raise your hand; is that what you do?

ROGER ALSBAUGH: No. We have ballots that are, that are passed out when you check in and get your

-- your hand stamped. And then we have a machine where they're put in, and the people from the, people from the registrar's office (inaudible) --

SENATOR FASANO: -- counts the votes. So at the end of that meeting they should be sworn in --

ROGER ALSBAUGH: They should --

SENATOR FASANO: -- is what you're trying --

ROGER ALSBAUGH: -- be seated.

SENATOR FASANO: Okay; fair enough. Now --

ROGER ALSBAUGH: And I recommend two agenda items applied on the annual meeting; one to seat them and one for them to -- to deal with what's required under this special act to appoint a chair and to elect a secretary treasurer. So then we are fully seated and --


ROGER ALSBAUGH: -- prepared.

SENATOR FASANO: Fair enough. We can add that language to the bill and talk about it as a group and feel if they feel the same thing.

And I know that Representative Alexander's done a great job, but I need to ask this question --


SENATOR FASANO: -- and feel free to answer it, without knowing where he stood on this issue. What about the LLC issue; why? What's -- what's -- am I missing something, why that's so critical here? Because it came up last year; it came up this year, and it just, it bothers me a little bit. I just want to see what -- what am I missing.

ROGER ALSBAUGH: And I -- I can understand philosophically why some people would reluctant to have a business voting. But these are people who have individually and in concert with partners made investments.

And believe me, when you make an investment in Thompsonville, you're committed. Your agenda is -- is either simply to make money or it's there to support the further development in Thompsonville. And Thompsonville desperately needs it, and we --

SENATOR FASANO: Heard from these companies that they --



ROGER ALSBAUGH: Yes, I (inaudible) --

SENATOR FASANO: So you've heard these companies say, hey, listen; I don't have a right to talk to -- to vote. But my business is in there; I want a say because I want to protect my investment?

ROGER ALSBAUGH: No, not to protect their investment, because they -- they have made an investment. And -- and as Representative Alexander has mentioned before, those people can vote in the other fire districts. Why in the world can they not vote here?

SENATOR FASANO: I need to look at that, because we weren't, we couldn't.


SENATOR FASANO: Last year we were trying to find some precedent for that position.

ROGER ALSBAUGH: Right, and it --

SENATOR FASANO: It was not in the bill that's before us now, so we didn't look into it again. But last year we looked at it; we couldn't find any precedent.


SENATOR FASANO: So we looked and we were afraid that we were creating a new voting right, and that was a concern of the committee to establish something new like that, because it seemed a little bit far afield. So that's why we --


SENATOR FASANO: -- backed off of that.

ROGER ALSBAUGH: And I can understand that. That makes --

SENATOR FASANO: So we need to look at this, see if it's in this other district and how that's --


SENATOR FASANO: -- written.

ROGER ALSBAUGH: (Inaudible.)

SENATOR FASANO: Fair enough?

ROGER ALSBAUGH: And I, and I believe there's testimony to come today that will attest to that.

SENATOR FASANO: I apologize for taking up so much time, but I think it was important, so we don't have to come back next year; no offense. But I think it's so important that we just kind of get it all out there, and that's why I did what I did.



ROGER ALSBAUGH: -- apologies too, but I do, I do appreciate your -- your dedication to the getting to the points.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you, very much.

Are there any other questions?

Well, thank you, very much.


Next up is Daun Barrett.

DAUN BARRETT: Good afternoon.

Good afternoon, and thank you for letting me be here today to testify; my name is Daun Barrett. I'm a registered nurse, and I'm the Director of Community Outreach and Parish Nursing for Griffin Hospital, in Derby.


As a nurse who has worked for more than 40 years in a variety of health care settings, from hospitals to long-term care, and now in the community, I join Griffin Hospital and other Connecticut hospitals in opposing this bill. I also urge the General Assembly to keep the current tax exemption and Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or the PILOT program, which is the funding structure that's now in place. This recognizes the critically important roles hospitals play in their communities.

As a community health nurse, my colleagues and I work to extend the reach and impact of Griffin Hospital well beyond its walls, accounting for approximately 40,000 community contacts each year with a department of four people. Our goal is to improve the health and safety of our community by providing a host of health education and preventative health screenings and safety programs. We provide evidence-based programs to help empower people to take responsibility for their own health and well-being, such as the Chronic Disease Self-Management program, Diabetes Self-Management Program, a Fall-Prevention program, and medication management. We connect people to services as needing; we work with over 35 health and human service agencies from the valley communities.

We also provide a multitude of support groups for our community. When we need, we link people to their primary care practitioner or find them a medical home. We are also the Safe Kids' chapter in a community CPR training center for our region. We provide and properly fit hundreds of free bike helmets while educating kids on bike and pedestrian safety. Through our Safe Kids' chapter, we are a designated car seat clinic. We inspect and install hundreds of infant and booster car seats each year, and we're one of the few left in the area.

Through the Safe Kids' chapter, we reach thousands of kids in our community with a variety of health and safety topics, including pedestrian safety, drug and alcohol and smoking prevention programs, as well as infection control, poison prevention; we do CPR Anytime, and other programs that deliver critical safety and preventative health messages.

In four decades of nursing, I've seen what happens when these programs don't exist, both in the acute care and long-term care -- care settings. I've seen kids with traumatic brain injuries from biking without a helmet. I've seen seniors for whom nursing home care is now the only option because of a fall-related injury or stroke that may have been prevented, hospital patients suffering with chronic conditions that could have been better managed but weren't, simply because there was a lack of community support and information, resources that could have kept them independent, active, and contributing members of society.

REP. ROJAS: Ms. Barrett, if you could just summarize your testimony?

DAUN BARRETT: Okay. Could I just give a few examples of what I'm talking about of what we do and what may not be done if you impose this?

REP. ROJAS: Yeah, if you can be brief, please.

DAUN BARRETT: Okay. We hold a Health and Safety Fair every year which sees about 2,000 people. One of the things we do is we have a smoke tent, and the smoke tent is where the kids go in and the parents go in and they, the, it fills with smoke and they learn how to get out of a burning building. Two years ago, a mother came to us at the next Health and Safety Fair, and she told us about her children being educated and after that, a couple months after that, their trailer caught on fire. And she said had it not been for the program, they would not have made it out alive.

We also have a poison prevention program where we go into the schools and we talk to the kids about taking -- and these are elementary school kids, and usually pre-kindergarten and kindergarten -- and we talk to them about not taking any medication or any pills that they don't know about. One day we get a letter from a mom, talking about her 8-year-old daughter who had asthma, severe asthma. And her dad had picked her up for the weekend, had to pick up the prescription for her asthma. And when he went to give it to her, the child said, No, that's not what I take. And he says, Well, this is what the pharmacy gave me. She says, No, I was trained not to take anything I didn't know what it was.

So he called the pharmacist. The pharmacist asked to describe the medication and said it was a medication that would have been toxic to the child and to bring it right back in. They put the wrong label on the -- or the label on the wrong bottle.

REP. ROJAS: In fairness to everybody else who's waiting to testify, I'm going to have to end your testimony there.

Are there any questions for Ms. Barrett?

Seeing none, thank you for your testimony; we appreciate it.

Is Representative Lavielle here?

A James Pascarella, who will be followed by Carnie Schiessl -- I think -- or Carl Schiessl.

JAMES PASCARELLA: Good afternoon.

Thank you, so much, for allowing me the opportunity to testify before you this afternoon. I come to you this afternoon as the President of the Hamden Legislative Council. Mayor Jackson is chairing a Newtown Commission meeting today; he was unable to attend this public hearing, so I've been asked to represent the municipal interest of the Town of Hamden regarding House Bill No. 5583, AN ACT CONCERNING THE PAYMENT OF REAL PROPERTY TAXES BY CERTAIN INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING AND HOSPITAL FACILITIES.

Clearly and obviously we are in support of Speaker Sharkey's bill. As some of you may be aware, I had written the Speaker a few months ago and asked him to investigate this matter on behalf of the citizens with which I represent, concerning our relationship with the university.

I would like to predominantly focus my remarks on the concept of leverage. Currently a municipality such as Hamden or any host community with any private university has absolutely no leverage in the negotiation concerning asking them for funds. We are essentially appealing to their good nature and fairness and respectability in regards to what's occurring in our town versus what's occurring with their institution.

We're very pleased and proud to have Quinnipiac University in our community. We admire their growth. Twenty years ago, they had an enrollment of approximately 2,500 students; currently, they are at 8,000 students. However, over the last four years, we have, we have downsized our municipal staffing by 80 people or roughly 15 percent of the staffing at the municipality.

Our board of education last year did not fill 20 teaching positions. Our town fund is $1.5 million; the university has an endowment into the hundreds of millions of dollars. During that period of time, the university has opened up a School of Engineering and has purchased a multimillion-dollar facility in North Haven, whereby they plan to open up a medical school.

The leverage, as -- as indicated by a representative of the university systems here in Connecticut, that the towns would somehow or another be unfair if we were allowed to tax is clearly contradicted by the fact that Yale purchased an enormous piece of property in West Haven, which has a lower mill rate than New Haven, and that Quinnipiac purchased an enormous piece of property in North Haven, which has a lower mill rate than Hamden. Obviously any public official in the Town of Hamden would be cognizant of the fact that as the university continues to grow, they may choose to grow in neighboring communities with significantly less mill rate than what we have, and we would have to take that into consideration when we negotiate with them concerning any Payment in Lieu of Taxes or taxation, period.

Currently we have a unique situation in Hamden which has become an enormous frustration for our citizens. The university owns 100 private residences in the north part of town with which they rent to four university students in each residence. These are one-family homes in residential neighborhoods. We are not allowed to tax those homes because they are owned by a nonprofit. This has created a marketplace whereby other private investors from out of state have come into the community and also purchased large quantities of residential properties of which students are housed. And although we do receive taxes on the private owners of those houses, we do not receive any taxation for the, for the university's ownership of those houses. However, we still pick up their trash. We still plow their streets. We still fix the potholes. We still provide primary police and fire service to those homes, the same way we do for any other home in the Town of Hamden.

In addition, although the university has 8,000 students, they do not offer any primary public safety facility on the university; they do not have their own police department. We, the Town of Hamden, respond to primary issues within the university. They have security but they do not arrest authority nor do they have transport authority. So if there is an incident on campus concerning drinking or some other minor matter that one would consider to be typical of a university environment, we are required to dispatch our police services into the university as well as emergency medical services.

You will find that most universities of that size have those facilities, themselves, and do not rely upon the municipal facilities as their primary source of emergency response. The university does hire private-duty police for their events, and just like everyone else, the university does pay for those private-duty police.

The university does give us $100,000 as a stipend or Payment in Lieu of Taxes, however, within that $100,000, the town is responsible to disperse that to the various charities within the Town of Hamden with whom the university used to donate to, so it's not a clean $100,000 stipend to be used for tax reduction. We disburse some of that money out of the Mayor's Office to various charities that used to receive charitable contributions from the university, itself.

If we were to tax the university and have that authority, the university would owe the Town of Hamden approximately $8 million per year, which would be the equivalent of 2 mills. Currently, we receive a Payment in Lieu of Taxes from the state in that, in that regard, of approximately 32 cents on the dollar, which clearly does not cover our costs for tending to 12 percent of our population.

There are many comparisons between Hamden and New Haven and Yale and Quinnipiac. Ironically, when one looks at the total population of the City of New Haven and the size of Yale University as it relates to the total population of the City of New Haven, the percentages are actually fairly similar to the size of Quinnipiac to the size of the population within the Town of Hamden. However, Yale donates millions of dollars, out-of-pocket, to the City of New Haven. They have an excellent relationship with the City of New Haven. We would like to have a similar relationship with the university in the Town of Hamden.

We probably -- and I can't imagine that we would, actually would go all the way to 100 percent taxation if the Sharkey Bill is put through; however, we have absolutely no leverage whatsoever, other than to just go there with our hat in our hand, somewhat like David to the Goliath, and ask for help. The university under the current laws, or any private university under the current laws, is under absolutely no legal obligation whatsoever to provide any financial assistance to the town or the municipality with which they reside.

So my question realistically to the committee is at some point in today's day and age, when we have so many families that are unemployed who are still responsible to pay their property taxes, with whom their cars would be repossessed, with whom their houses would be foreclosed upon if they did pay those property taxes, how is it that you can turn on the dime and state -- regardless of the fantastic and absolute litany of magnificent things that the university system does not only for the state of Connecticut, the local towns, and the United States as a whole -- but how could you turn-around to these extraordinarily wealthy institutions and say that your municipal tax, property tax responsibility is absolutely nothing?

There is a fundamental fairness issue that has to be addressed. Zero is not an option in the Year 2014. Zero was a common sense solution in the Year 1785, but a long time has passed since then, and I appeal to the committee's sense of fairness in regards to reviewing this piece of legislation.

And I would welcome any -- any questions that you would have.

REP. ROJAS: Thank you, Mr. Pascarella.

Are there any questions?

Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO: You know, here's the thing that I'm wrestling with. People, the hospitals are in trouble because of reimbursement rates; they can barely keep their head above water, for the most cases. We're seeing hospital merges. There's a piece of legislation in this building for profit hospitals to buy nonprofit hospitals. If we tax them, we've put them out of business. A couple of them are near that anyway. And St. Ray's sold out to Yale because it couldn't afford to keep going.


SENATOR FASANO: Putting a tax on that level seems to me of some concern.

On the educational side, what Representative Aman was saying makes sense. If -- if a university owns a building for dorms, they may be fair game in my view; that's just me talking.


SENATOR FASANO: On the other hand, a university certainly does attract a lot of businesses. I went to Yale. I've lived in --


SENATOR FASANO: -- New Haven all my life.


SENATOR FASANO: Yale is what makes New Haven.


SENATOR FASANO: Without Yale, you wouldn't have New Haven; that's --


SENATOR FASANO: -- just the truthism. Go downtown and you see it's different from when I was there in -- I won't even say the year -- how's that -- but when I was there, awhile ago, until now. Because of a partnership that exists between -- I'm not sticking up for Yale, please -- between Yale and New Haven that didn't exist before.

Yale does loans to small businesses. Yale provides their business students the opportunity to market in business, to market and use that in part of the businesses around the neighborhoods. There's a certain amount of economic drive.

I know for North Haven getting Quinnipiac Medical School, the issue was raised about the property taxes -- because that was the Anthem Building -- but on the other hand, the ancillary services that come along with that read a benefit to the town. So it's a lot more difficult than just making the argument that these are wealthy institutions. And some of them are and some of them are not all that wealthy.


SENATOR FASANO: We start taxing, they're going to make up that tax money. It's not going to be Quinnipiac -- or I don't know if we're going to do it to UCONN; I haven't looked at it that closely -- but if we're going to have them all pay taxes, then I'm sure that tuition is going to go up.


SENATOR FASANO: Tuition already went up on -- on North Haven -- North Haven? On UCONN, five percent or eight percent or something like that and people went crazy; a year before, it went up before.

So this is a very difficult issue. That's why I suggested to Speaker Sharkey that we need to look at what we say is exempt rather than just having this if you're part of Quinnipiac or you're part of Yale Hospital or you're part of Yale, everything that falls under that name is not exempt, whether it's research for patent law, whether it's dorms for -- for kids, whether it's the ice cream parlor that's on Chapel Street in New Haven that Yale runs. What? That's a business. Why should that building be exempt, that little area be exempt? I think we have to be more prudent in that structure.


SENATOR FASANO: I am concerned if what we're saying is that we're going to be paying taxes at the host-community level, then we're going to go to Hartford, at OPM, and argue to pay us; I don't understand. I don't understand how this whole thing works. I don't really understand the dynamic of it. I'm concerned about the politics of it.


SENATOR FASANO: So that's my concern, and I, and I think I understand where you're coming from. And I'd make the same argument if I was the municipality sitting here. And if I was a hospital or an educational institution, I'd be making the -- the other argument. So I get the corners everybody is in; the question is: Is there ability to move folks out of their corners? But I think we have to be, in fairness to the argument, recognize the benefits that, yielded by both.


SENATOR FASANO: So that's where I'm coming from on this.

JAMES PASCARELLA: Senator, you're -- you're correct. There are enormous benefits that -- that we receive by having this, by having the university in Hamden. It has provided us with a national identity that we would not have had previously.

However, just to give you some idea, we have made offers to the university we thought were quite reasonable. We've -- we've asked them to, if they would consider paying a Payment in Lieu of Taxes to the tune of $265 per student. Now, their tuition is into the mid-50,000s; I don't think that that would have a backbreaking effect upon their tuition structure or the -- or their, nor their competitiveness. And this, of course, was rejected. Instead, we're dealing with much lower numbers that really aren't going to have much of a tangible impact on the town.

The point that we struggle with is we don't have the leverage.

SENATOR FASANO: You know, the -- the thing about that is that what -- what people should understand is that leaving it to this Legislature to make -- when two parties can't agree and then some bill comes in front of us, sometimes both parties don't like the outcome of that bill. So I would --


SENATOR FASANO: It would behoove both sides not to leave it up to us to enact legislation but to come to an agreement and leave us out of it, because --


SENATOR FASANO: Yeah. We could --


SENATOR FASANO: -- potentially, and we have a --

JAMES PASCARELLA: Oh, I'm not asking you --

SENATOR FASANO: I shouldn't say that.

JAMES PASCARELLA: -- to play referee, but I am asking you to unshackle our hands. I mean, the law does not allow us to do anything.

SENATOR FASANO: I would argue that the law, the bill in front of us just reverses the roles, one-eighty. I think that that is problematic in --


SENATOR FASANO: -- many degrees -- from my point; it's just my --


SENATOR FASANO: -- point of view.

JAMES PASCARELLA: Well, then perhaps --

SENATOR FASANO: Problematic in --

JAMES PASCARELLA: -- something in the middle --

SENATOR FASANO: -- many degrees.

JAMES PASCARELLA: -- is the way to go. I mean --

SENATOR FASANO: And that's what I'm searching for.


SENATOR FASANO: But when you, but sometimes when these issues come to us in such a degree, we have a tendency of --


SENATOR FASANO: -- shaking it around and not necessarily come up with the right answer.

JAMES PASCARELLA: Well, some, I mean, you know, there are a number of options. Currently we're receiving 32 cents on the dollar from the state. If the committee and the Senate were to agree to say that the towns and municipalities can only tax up to a certain percentage of the grand list and you continued to send us the 32 cents on the dollar, that would mean a tremendous benefit to the local community without going a hundred percent the other way and putting a cap on what we could go to in terms of that, which would, might alleviate some of the issues that some folks have that the towns will just hit them with a hundred percent and walk away from the table and it does the one-eighty. I mean, there are a number of ways to go.

Unfortunately, the current system is fundamentally unfair to the host community, and I think most folks would agree with that, that zero is unacceptable.

As far as us asking the state to be a

referee --

SENATOR FASANO: Don't get zero because you get some PILOT money.

JAMES PASCARELLA: Well, yeah. But that's not their money; that's my money --

SENATOR FASANO: But that (inaudible) --

JAMES PASCARELLA: -- your money and anyone else's money.

SENATOR FASANO: Now we're talking about whose pocketbook it's coming out of.

JAMES PASCARELLA: Well, this is true, but --

SENATOR FASANO: The -- the issue here is not whose pocketbook it's --


SENATOR FASANO: -- come out of, the issue is how is the town going to be made whole; however it's made whole. If you --


SENATOR FASANO: -- were getting a hundred percent of the PILOT money, a hundred --

JAMES PASCARELLA: And we would --

SENATOR FASANO: -- percent of the tax, you --

JAMES PASCARELLA: We'd walk away.

SENATOR FASANO: -- wouldn't be here. So it's not a question of where it's coming from.


SENATOR FASANO: It's a question of the amount that's coming to you.

JAMES PASCARELLA: Well, I think in our experience at the municipal level regarding the state when it comes to funding is that there may be -- and well-intentioned to increase that money -- but I don't know where that money would come from for the state to send --

SENATOR FASANO: We'll leave my --

JAMES PASCARELLA: -- it to us.

SENATOR FASANO: -- comment with this: If the Legislators in this room have a very difficult time to fund the PILOT at a hundred percent with the advocacy that's in this -- not at this table, in this building, where we control the laws --


SENATOR FASANO: -- and we can't fund a hundred percent, I would just, I would suggest the abilities for the hospitals and the educational institutions to make the pitch to OPM they should get a hundred percent is greatly reduced from our ability to argue it should be at a hundred percent. So I think they're at extreme disadvantage when they come up here saying we want to get funded. Because if we -- we who are accountable to our constituency can't get it done, I can't imagine that the hospital and education facilities would have a better shot at getting appropriate funding. That's where I think the -- the problem in the bill lies, in my manner of thinking and my experience in this building.


SENATOR FASANO: But I agree with you to this point: We need to find some way. Because I think it's been abused by the hospitals and abused by the educational institutions, and that's an easier argument to roll back to make sure you get at least close to a hundred percent as possible. And I think that's a fair statement.

JAMES PASCARELLA: I agree with you on that regard. Obviously, when I initially wrote the letter, you know, sometimes when you want to shock the system, you have to use a cattle --

SENATOR FASANO: I don't blame --

JAMES PASCARELLA: -- prod, Senator.

SENATOR FASANO: -- you at all. That's what you got to; you got to hit us --


SENATOR FASANO: -- with a 2-by-4.

JAMES PASCARELLA: -- you know, but the, in terms of the, in terms of trying to make a fair system, many of the points you've brought out are significant, just like the points I brought up about the residences in town. I mean, if we were allowed just to tax the one-family houses, that'd be $700,000.

I mean and then there's their Polling Institute, for instance. I mean, there's a million little things that you could start to zero in on; however, the -- the -- without breaking the back of the growth of this entity, that no one wants to do, you know, but -- but in order to get people to the table, sometimes you have to do a little shock therapy. And this is, this is essentially what my intention was in writing that letter in the first place and I think the Speaker's intention for presenting the legislation.

SENATOR FASANO: And this is a good place for shock therapy.


REP. ROJAS: Are there any further questions for Mr. Pascarella?

Representative Diminico.

REP. DIMINICO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I just wanted to speak to you about leverage, because when you started talking about leverage, I guess you brought up the mill rate and -- and how one university went to the town next door; actually, two universities, Yale and Quinnipiac --


REP. DIMINICO: -- all because of the mill rate which is --

JAMES PASCARELLA: Not necessarily. I mean, I think they went there because of the land availability. But the point I was making --

REP. DIMINICO: Well, you brought up the mill rate is what --


REP. DIMINICO: -- prompted my question --


REP. DIMINICO: -- which I think is kind of --


REP. DIMINICO: -- far fetched. Because mill rates and grand lists and all that stuff are all interrelated, and they're not constant, so I don't think that's a defensible argument.

But what I will say is it kind of alludes to the fact that you don't have leverage, so are you, are you kind of implying that maybe a flat rate would be more convenient so you wouldn't have to go into this negotiating position?

JAMES PASCARELLA: I think under the current structure, we are in an asking-position base, when we go there. We -- we had our hat in our hand. They are under no legal obligation to forward any funding to us.

If -- if there were a flat level, per se, then that certainly takes away the discussion. There is no negotiation at that particular point; that would probably end up being what the number would be and everyone would walk away.

Now that -- that is an interesting concept; I threw that out as to sort of an example. If, you know, if it was the will of the Legislature not to go entirely there, to consider something, you know, in between -- because currently, as we have it right now, we have a situation that's over here where the local towns and municipalities essentially have absolutely no leverage to a situation where under the current bill that's proposed, one could, you know, make the argument on the other side that the -- the local town or municipality would have a-hundred-percent leverage. So, you know, if it was the will of the committee to consider something a little in between, yes that would take the negotiation away.

The point I was making concerning mill rate was if we were negotiating, there is other options for growth in other towns for some of these institutions, and if we were becoming unreasonable, they could consider those other options. I mean, this happens in the private sector all the time. So, you know, and I was using those as an, examples that many of these universities are expanding beyond the borders of their primary host towns.

And it's, could be a variety of reasons. It could be the land is less expensive. It could be all sorts of things, but if we were in a situation where obviously Hamden has a higher mill rate than North Haven or Wallingford or Cheshire, for that matter, and these are neighboring communities, that if the university was looking to build a new facility, you know that that -- that would be in play as far as their financial calculus.

Right now obviously it isn't; it's a matter of just where they find the land and where they could not. But that would be in play, and that will be something we would have to consider in Hamden in terms of our negotiations with them.

REP. DIMINICO: And -- and along the line of negotiations, have you ever tried to negotiate with Quinnipiac in regards to the use of blighted properties in your community, which would be a win-win?

JAMES PASCARELLA: Most of our blighted properties are not conveniently located to the university. Most of our blighted properties -- the university is the in Mount Carmel section of Hamden, which is in the northern part of the town -- most of our blighted properties are south of the Merritt Parkway, which would be like a good five to six miles away from the university. That would not be conducive for them to locate students in those areas, because of the, just because of the distance. Most of the student body, population of the town that they're interested in is and around the circular radius of the university, itself. But those blighted properties that we have tend to be in our -- our lower-income areas. The university is located in a -- a higher-income area of the town.

REP. DIMINICO: And along the lines of what Senator Fasano was discussing of -- of how the tax or where the tax and on isolating the tax, was any discussions ever brought with strictly just to tax the personal property of all these nonprofits, which would kind of allude to what the scale is? And it may be much more fair and equitable. The larger nonprofits would have a lot more personal property as opposed to this, a small university or hospitals. As opposed to the --

JAMES PASCARELLA: We did not just --

REP. DIMINICO: As opposed to the, its entirety, real estate and personal property.

JAMES PASCARELLA: Well, we did not consider that in our, in our calculus. I mean and within the Town of Hamden, itself, I mean we have, we have the Whale, so to speak. And we don't have very, we don't have a lot of other nonprofits within the town that -- that one would consider personal property taxation on that would really amount to much. It's strictly -- that is such a, such a big kahuna that, you know, like you say --

REP. DIMINICO: No, what I'm saying, just approach just a tax on the personal property side, Quinnipiac University, as opposed to the real estate and personal property side. That's just a thought that --

JAMES PASCARELLA: It's a thought. I mean, we had not considered that there.

REP. DIMINICO: Thank you, very much.

REP. ROJAS: Thank you.

Any further questions?

Seeing none, thank you for your testimony.

JAMES PASCARELLA: Thank you, so much for your time.


Representative Lavielle; no?

Oh, Carl Schiessl; hopefully I got that right.

CARL J. SCHIESSL: Good afternoon, Senator Osten, Representative Rojas, members of the committee. I'm Carl Schiessl, Director of Regulatory Advocacy at the Connecticut Hospital Association.


CHA opposes this bill. We urge the General Assembly to keep the current tax exemption and Payment in Lieu of Taxes or PILOT funding structure in place. You know, we were pleased that Speaker Sharkey opened the hearing by recognizing that hospitals are tremendous assets in their communities. Connecticut, like every state in the nation, enacted property tax exemptions for hospitals many years ago in recognition of the unique and critically important role hospitals play in their communities.

You've already heard from Griffin Hospital; I'll offer you a statewide perspective, and then representatives from several other hospitals will be heard over the course of the day. And what they'll be describing for you in large part is how hospitals have stepped up for generations and continue to earn the right to be exempt from local property taxes.

We have also submitted to a, to the committee a letter signed by the leaders of every hospital in Connecticut urging you to oppose the bill.

Hospitals treat everyone who come through their doors, 24 hours a day, regardless of their ability to pay. In 2012, Connecticut hospitals provided nearly $225 million in free services for those who could not pay. They also incurred $868.3 million in losses, due to Medicare and Medicaid paying hospitals less than the cost of caring for patients on those programs.

Connecticut hospitals are the cornerstone of their communities. They provide great jobs to the people who live there. At present, more than 55,000 people work at Connecticut hospitals, making sure we all have access to the very best care, whenever we need it. And like private colleges, hospitals are deeply rooted in their communities and they can't move; they are not portable.

Connecticut hospitals not only care for the sick but they also play a major and continually expanding role in improving community health. Working with their communities, Connecticut hospitals are identifying and addressing key health issues for people so they can live healthier, better lives; for example, outreach and support services for patients with cancer, diabetes, asthma, chronic conditions. They run mobile vans and clinics, delivering primary and preventive care, healthy lifestyle programs, services for the homeless, clinics for migrant farm workers, crisis intervention services, and many other programs targeted to meet specific community needs.

REP. ROJAS: Mr. Schiessl, if you could just summarize your testimony.

CARL J. SCHIESSL: Sure. I'll do that as follows: The community benefits provided by Connecticut hospitals amounted to $1.2 billion this past year. And let's put that into context, because I think it was Representative Vicino who talked about all the other moving parts around this narrow issue of how this deal between towns, colleges, and hospitals, and the state works. So there's a hospital tax on patients in Connecticut; 27 million in 2013; 101 million in 2014, and beginning in July of this year, that'll raise to 235 million. So there's that burden, that financial burden that hospitals are bearing.

In addition, in 2012, the state reduced funding for hospital care by 103 million. So there's the tax. There's reduced funding. And then there's the federal piece of this, the cuts to Medicare and federal sequestration, a two percent cut to Medicare funding to hospitals. While all that's taking place, Connecticut hospitals continue to maintain their commitment to their communities through that $1.2 billion in community benefits.

So Connecticut hospital -- I'll close by saying the following: Connecticut hospitals have always epitomized and continue to epitomize the reason that the property tax exemption was created. They play a unique and critically important role in their communities. Hospitals are worthy of continued exemption from property tax.

And I'd be happy to entertain questions, if you have any.

And thank you for the opportunity to testify.

REP. ROJAS: Well, thank you for your testimony.

Are there any questions for Mr. Schiessl?

Seeing none, thank you.

CARL J. SCHIESSL: Thank you, very much.

REP. ROJAS: Still don't see Representative Lavielle, so we will continue with Kerry Warren.

KERRY C. WARREN: Good afternoon, distinguished members of Planning and Development Committee.

I appreciate the opportunity today to speak in support of House Bill 5580. I've submitted my testimony electronically, so I will be brief in -- in commenting on what appeared to be a couple of repeated themes within the hearing and in Public Health, two days ago.

Regionalization; as a labor leader and the Union President of West Hartford Firefighters Association, I do see some opportunity here within the recommendations of the EMS Task Force to realize some regional, regionalization as it pertains to EMS. Myself and some other members of the West Hartford Fire Department have had the good fortune as it pertains to this issue to work in a fire service in other parts of the country.

In many other parts of the country, fire service as its delivered and EMS is realized more on a regional basis. However, those regional efforts are all often realized through strong county government, which we do not have here in New England. Part of what makes -- makes New England great is certainly our stronghold on our municipal government, but in times like this, somewhat entrenched in tradition of the fire service, there are oftentimes where we're not able to capitalize on regional efforts.

What the fire service has done well over the years is as new challenges approach, we have done a good job of adapting and taking on those challenges which have resulted in some positive regional initiatives. Some of those would be: Hazardous materials response; emergency dispatch; mass casualty response; disaster preparedness and response; and, our -- our most recent issue that everybody takes to heart is, as we cooperate with our law enforcement, is active-shooter scenarios.

Currently, Recommendation No. 5, being the most important piece of the EMS Task Force, PSA recommendations gives your municipalities a level of home rule that would provide for opportunities to have these regional conversations. Probably the next biggest common theme, and -- and we've heard about it already today, was a fear of an arbitrary change in -- in the PSA holder's delivery and -- and the possibility of that being taken away for reasons other than their performance, perhaps, or cost effectiveness, or all the things that are outlined in Recommendation

No. 5.

I feel that there's sufficient levels of oversight within Recommendation No. 5, particularly the oversight of the Department of Public Health, and of course the elected officials in the different communities that are tasked with setting up everything else that has to do with public safety.

I'll summarize here and the end and -- and point out that it's 2014. Providers of any public service need to be engaged in their community. They need to attempt to deliver a superior service, not just an adequate service, and they need to get engaged with the community leaders, civil groups, and the taxpayers, to educate them and inform them as to what they're providing and -- and why that is the superior service.

Another lastly good illustration, I feel, is that many towns have already been looking into this issue with -- with a lot of effort. In West Hartford it's been a conversation that's been ongoing since 1990; that was around the time of the arrival of our current fire chief. And I think you have written testimony from myself, our fire chief, and our town manager, and we're all on the same page with this; and, I think that's an important illustration as well.

Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any questions?

Thank you, very much.

KERRY C. WARREN: Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Chris Pepler.

CHRISTOPHER T. PEPLER: Good afternoon, Senator Osten, Representative Rojas, and distinguished members of this committee. I'd like to thank you for allowing me to give testimony and allowing me to represent the best interests of my community.

My name is Chris Pepler, and I currently serve as the Chief of Operations for the City of Torrington Fire Department. I have 24 years in the fire service, including as a volunteer EMT, volunteer firefighter, and career firefighter, and I'm here to express my support for some long-awaited changes to our EMS system and support House Bill 5580.

I'll begin by saying I feel that there's been a misunderstanding by the private ambulance providers as to who is ultimately responsible for providing ambulance service to the citizens of the communities. And a little bit of background: If we refer to Connecticut General Statute, Title 7, Chapter 98, Section 7-148, we look at the scope of municipal powers. We can see there's a responsibility put on a municipality to provide the following, under "Public Services": Provide for police protection; provide for fire protection; and, provide for ambulance service. And I have summarized that because I could be here all afternoon, reading you all the specifics.

The language states the municipality shall have the power to provide police and fire protection, and a little further down it says, provide an ambulance service. In both fire and police sections there's some language in there such as "regulate, organize, prescribe, and maintain." While under the ambulance service language the only thing that exists is that the municipality shall have the "power to provide an ambulance service by the municipality, any person, firm or corporation."

The language under the ambulance service is vague, to say the least, and House Bill 5580 finally allows municipalities the input and accountability to put the person, firm or corporation, as mentioned in 7-148. Further, I feel the current language restricts local officials from having the ability to regionalize, which we all know is a huge -- huge priority for the current Administration.

The CCM agrees with the task force recommendations. And I don't like to steal other people's words, but I think they summed it up perfect in their testimony under 5542. This is a logical means to provide local officials with the necessary authority to determine their PSA provider.

In closing, under the current language there's no recourse for an elected official to hold their EMS provider accountable, due to the PSA. I can tell you personally, as a chief officer in my fire department, I'm held accountable to deliver the highest level of service to the citizens of our community, 24/7. If there's an issue in which a citizen is not happy with the fire department's service or performance, my mayor will call me or ask to see me immediately, as I would expect her to. Therefore, I feel it is essential that the chief elected official have the authority to hold all emergency services responsible; have options available to choose the best EMS provider for the citizens' safety; have the ability to explore regionalization concepts without being tied to a provider who was assigned to their municipality; and, have an option that allows for a competitive-bid process. Therefore, I respectfully ask this committee to support 5580.

Thank you.


Are there any questions?

Thanks, so much.


SENATOR OSTEN: Appreciate it.

Next up is Augusta Mueller, followed by Bill Stanley.

AUGUSTA MUELLER: Good afternoon. My name is Augusta Mueller, and I am the Senior Community Benefits Administrator for Yale New Haven Health System.


The bill seeks to levy yet another tax on hospitals in just three short years. More specifically, the bill would require hospitals to pay property taxes to the municipality in which they are located. Like many hospitals across Connecticut, Yale New Haven Health System, comprising Bridgeport, Greenwich, and Yale-New Haven Hospital is the heartbeat of our communities. With over 19,000 employees, and nearly 6,000 medical staff, we are among the largest employers.

Yale New Haven Health System provides a comprehensive, cost-effective, advanced patient care, characterized by safety, quality, and service. We offer our patients a range of health care services from primary care to the most complex care available anywhere in the world. Yale New Haven Health System hospital affiliates continue to be a safety net for our communities, and we provide care 24 hour per day, 7 days per week.

In addition to being an economic engine for our communities, Yale New Haven Health System hospitals care for more than a quarter of the state's Medicaid patients and provide millions in free and uncompensated care to those who need our services and have no ability to pay for them.

Measures such as H.B. 5583 will only serve to further destabilize Connecticut hospitals that have already felt the impact of several funding cuts. In 2011, the Legislature enacted a hospital tax on patients followed by a $103 million funding reduction in 2012, funding that would have offset some of the losses hospitals incurred from treating uninsured patients.

In 2013, the hospital tax cost two -- $27 million. In 2014, the tax on hospital patients grew to $101 million, and beginning in July, the tax will more than double to $235 million. Hospitals have done extraordinary things to minimize the impact to patient care, but it is becoming increasingly more challenging, especially considering that hospitals are also impacted by federal funding cuts.

Yale New Haven Health System is an important and integral part of the, of our local community, and this bill does not take into consideration some of the benefits we offer, from building Habitat homes and also providing incentives for qualified employees to live in our communities through our HOME program.

Yale New Haven Health System's combined community -- community benefit for 2012 equaled nearly $360 million that helped to guarantee access to care, advanced careers in health care, promote health and wellness, build stronger neighborhoods, and create healthier communities.

In addition, the positive economic impact that we generated for our communities in 2013 equaled well over $5 billion. We understand that municipalities have also been impacted by funding reductions and they must balance their many competing priorities --


AUGUSTA MUELLER: -- with limited resources.

SENATOR OSTEN: -- you to wrap it up, please.


I would like to -- the Governor has proposed an increase in PILOT funding, and we encourage you to support that proposal and keep the current property tax exemption for colleges and hospitals in place.

Thank you for your consideration.


Are there any questions or comments?

Thanks so much.

Bill, just one minute. I have to let Representative Lavielle go; been waiting for her to get here. You'll be right after her.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you very much for letting me go; I missed my slot this morning because we were voting in Education.

And my testimony does say "good morning," so good afternoon, Senator Osten, Representative Rojas, Senator Fasano, and -- well, Senator Fasano is not here -- and Representative Aman, and distinguished members of the committee.

I'm really here just to signal something for you for the record, which I think you may already be informed about. I -- I'd like to call the committee's attention to a significant discrepancy between the bill's language and an agreement established between the Office of Policy and Management and two planning regions in southwestern Connecticut.

Earlier this year, OPM approved the proposed merger between the Southwestern and Housatonic Valley regions, and following the merger, that region would form the basis for a new Council of Governments that would -- if all the towns of course approved it -- include 18 municipalities; and, those are: Bethel, Bridgewater, Brookfield, Danbury, Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, New Fairfield, New Milford, Newtown, Norwalk, Redding, Ridgefield, Sherman, Stamford, Weston, Westport, and Wilton, where I live.

In the language of House Bill 5584, however, in Section 1 (a), which refers to all of the municipalities in all of the regions. Six of the municipalities I just named are not included in the merged region, which is referred to in the bill as the "Southwestern Connecticut Region." Of those six municipalities, the bill includes New Milford, Newtown, Redding, Ridgefield, and Sherman in the South Central Region, and it doesn't mention Stamford at all.

I was informed this morning by elected officials in both of the regions, the Housatonic Valley and the Southwestern Region, of, that OPM is aware of the discrepancy between the bill and its agreement with the regions and that corrections are likely forthcoming that will restore the provisions of the agreement to the bill's language. But that said, I thought it was wise to call to the committee's attention the discrepancy, so that it's on the record.

And I would ask going forward for your careful oversight to ensure that the conditions promised to the officials of these two regions are retained in the bill.

Thank you, very much, for the opportunity to testify.

REP. ROJAS: Thank you, Representative; point well taken.

Are there any questions for Representative Lavielle; no?

Seeing none, thank you.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, so much.

REP. ROJAS: A Bill Stanley. Can you just turn on your microphone? There you go.

WILLIAM A. STANLEY: (Inaudible) Vice President for Development and Community Relations at Lawrence & Memorial Hospital, in New London. I'm here today to testify in opposition to House Bill 5583, AN ACT CONCERNING THE PAYMENT OF REAL PROPERTY TAXES BY CERTAIN INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING AND HOSPITAL FACILITIES.

We empathize with the fiscal challenges of communities like New London that have high concentrations of tax-exempt property, however, L&M and other hospitals throughout Connecticut believe imposing property taxes on not-for-profit hospitals and private colleges and universities is not the solution to this long-standing problem.

Collectively each year, Connecticut's hospitals provide conservatively hundreds of millions of dollars in community investment, in the form of programs, services, support, and care, benefiting hundreds of thousands of our state's citizens, regardless or their age, raise, ethnic background, income or even their ability to pay.

The uncompensated and undercompensated care we provide runs the gamut from cancer and cardiac to diabetes and substance abuse. We support safety and educational programs, and those that provide shelter, health care, and counseling for our homeless. These are not stop-gap programs; they have collaborative initiatives with other providers that not only reduce volume in our crowded emergency department but provide hope, health, and dignity for these patients. At the same time, reduced volume of homeless and substance abuse patients not only helps improve the quality of their lives, it reduces the cost for the State of Connecticut which also pays for a portion of their care and for the cities and towns of our service area.

At Lawrence & Memorial, we are proud to have eastern Connecticut's only neonatal intensive care unit for our most vulnerable patients, infants as small as one-and-a-half pounds, often born prematurely with life-threatening maladies, babies who spend days, weeks, even months in our care.

We provide care to residents in a ten-town primary service area that ranges from rural communities, like Lyme and North Stonington, to urban settings, such as New London, where our main campus is located and where most of our nearly 3,000 employees work.

L&M's annual community investment total exceeds $50 million, and no community benefits more from that than New London, which also reaps economic benefit of having our hospital in its midst. With an operating budget of more than one-third of a billion dollars and a payroll that exceeds $140 million, our hospital is an economic driver for New London and the rest of southeastern Connecticut.

The money we'd have to pay in taxes has to come from somewhere and it would. It would come from salaries and benefits. It would come from community programs, services, and sponsorship supports which were drastically reduced after the Medicaid reimbursement cuts imposed by the state last year -- I'll conclude -- but it also came from, it would also come from postponement of technology acquisition and system expansion.

We want to continue with these programs and services and grow them so that even more may benefit, however assigning municipal revenue generation from where it belongs in state government to institutions like hospitals that are supposed to be tax exempt would be penny-wise and pound-foolish.

Thank you, very much, for the opportunity to testify.

I'm happy to answer any questions.

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any questions for Mr. Stanley?

Thanks, Bill.

WILLIAM A. STANLEY: Thank you --


WILLIAM A. STANLEY: -- very much.

SENATOR OSTEN: -- for coming up.

REP. ROJAS: Mary Ellen, Mary Ellen Jukoski, followed by Mark Scheinberg.

MARY ELLEN JUKOSKI: Good afternoon.

I'm Mary Ellen Jukoski; I'm the President of Mitchell College, in New London, Connecticut. I am here to oppose House Bill 5583 -- which would eliminate the real property tax exemption for colleges and hospitals and make them fully taxable -- for four reasons.

First, Mitchell College's financial assets and revenues are not comparable to those maintained by some other, larger Connecticut institutions. Second, the college already voluntarily makes a substantial annual tax contribution to the City of New London. Third, the college provides many other benefits to the city and its residents, through jobs, educational programs, recreational opportunities, and use of its facilities. Finally, the college is troubled by any approach to taxation that breaks down the long-established distinction between for-profit businesses owned by private individuals and non-for-profit institutions, like colleges, that are nonstock entities with a broader community mission.

Mitchell College does not have substantial financial resources; it's endowment is $7 million. The annual college budget of $23 million, publicly reported on our Form 990 does not include lavish salaries, corporate-type benefits or other expenses that are out of character with a nonprofit's fundamental mission of providing educational services to its students and serving the community.

Mitchell College has long recognized the obligation of leading institutions in the City of New London to assist the city as a good neighbor and in recognition of the occasional burdens placed on municipal services by the operation of a large facility. Notwithstanding the tax-exempt status of the college's properties and activities, we have been making voluntary payments to the city since 2003. As of July 1, 2014, the college will have made a total of $312,000 in voluntary payments to a city under this agreement.

The other contributions which Mitchell College makes to the community are numerous. We provide a quality education, student scholarships, more and 118 full-time and 94 part-time jobs at living wages to area residents; our scholarships include a free-tuition program for city employees. We also provide numerous recreational opportunities through the Alfred Mitchell Woods Trust.

Please, I beg you; do not support or approve this legislation. It will have a detrimental effect on both colleges and non-for -- for-profit colleges and universities.

Thank you, very much.

SENATOR OSTEN: Wait one minute. Let me see if anybody has any questions.

Representative Fox.

REP. D. FOX: Thank you, Madam Chair.

Just thank you for being here today and for your testimony.

Just very briefly, how -- how large is Mitchell College? I mean, I'm just --

MARY ELLEN JUKOSKI: We have about 800 students.

REP. D. FOX: Okay.

MARY ELLEN JUKOSKI: And I also want to share with you that in addition to the payments that we have been making, we also pay taxes on three properties. One was a house that we turned into faculty offices, and we felt that since the house was taxable, we could continue that as a good-will gesture. We also bought Michael's Dairy, an ice cream, long-standing ice cream institution in New London that was contingent to our property, and we pay taxes on that. And we also have another house that we use to house students, and we pay taxes on that. So we feel as a very small institution we have been very generous to the City of New London.

We know that it is only six miles in square footage, and it does have a lot of non-for-profit colleges and hospitals. But I would share this: On behalf of my colleagues, Connecticut College, Mitchell College and L&M Hospital, all three of the entities go out of our way to be a good neighbor and to provide other opportunities to help the city out.

REP. D. FOX: Just one more, quick one. Just one -- one more quick question. You mentioned the voluntary payments that began at or around 2003. Do you know, were they -- and you may not know the answer, and if -- if so, that's fine -- were they just suddenly the college stood up and said we want to start making these payments or were they spurned by both the college and the municipality getting together and someone having a conversation?

MARY ELLEN JUKOSKI: They were spawned by the college and the previous mayor talking about the concerns for revenue for the city, and so as a good neighbor and talk, working with our college attorney, we developed an agreement, and we just renewed that agreement last year.

REP. D. FOX: Okay; thank you.

MARY ELLEN JUKOSKI: Thank you, very much. Okay.

SENATOR OSTEN: I know you want to run off.

Are there any other questions right now?

On that agreement that you had, do know if your other colleagues -- you mentioned them -- did they operate in the same manner; do they pay a voluntary payment of taxes --


SENATOR OSTEN: -- to the municipality?

MARY ELLEN JUKOSKI: I think that Connecticut College does, and there are representatives from Connecticut College here, so they can -- can confirm that.

SENATOR OSTEN: I would say my father graduated from Mitchell College and --


SENATOR OSTEN: -- back many years ago, back in the fifties, the --

MARY ELLEN JUKOSKI: Well, that's nice to hear.

SENATOR OSTEN: -- (inaudible) --

MARY ELLEN JUKOSKI: Thank you for sharing that.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you, very much. Thank you for coming today.


REP. ROJAS: Mark Scheinberg, followed by Paul Mutone.

MARK E. SCHEINBERG: Chairwoman Osten, Chairman Rojas, Senior Members, thank you for having me here.

I'm not going to speak to my remarks you've got in writing. What I'd like to do is just give you four or five bullet points that may help you in some of your thinking and in reference to some of the other things that have come up today, so we make it a little bit more informal.

Goodwin, I'm from Goodwin College. My name is Mark Scheinberg; I'm President. We're a nonprofit, community based organization. We're not one of the big fours. We have an endowment that we're working desperately on, and we're up to $8 million, which we're very proud of, but it is what it is. We're not a religious institution.

We sit on land that used to be a brownfield, and much of it had not paid taxes in over 20 years before we got there, because not only was it so badly polluted but that the state would not or anybody else would not actually foreclose on it because no one wanted to be in the chain of title of a piece of property that looks like that.

We are now the second-largest taxpayer in East Hartford. And as whoever did -- Representative Aman, you -- you made a point earlier about there was a, there was someone that had come up that was building a -- a gym and they wouldn't, you compare why they were doing this, other things. We're the second-largest taxpayer in East Hartford. We're one of the largest economic drivers in the town. We've -- we've created over $1.3 billion in economic development, and we do that because we understand we're a community based organization. Our mission is to support our community; we're one and the same.

We, I don't know if you realize what a bill like this looks like to a college of our size. It would represent between 15 and 20 percent of our entire budget. We are institutions, so we tend to be building heavy, and so because those things that are nonprofit, those parts of us that are truly academic in nature that we have off the tax rolls, if we paid taxes on them, we would have to increase our tuition 15 or 20 percent.

Our school deals primarily with poorer students, part-time students, minority students, and we have a -- a tuition that has not increased in four years. We haven't increased tuition in four years because our students can't pay for it. We understand that you believe that as well, which is why you're limiting the state schools to a two percent increase; we're in the same, exact situation.

If this went through, we'd have to find 20 percent more money from students who don't have it. And if they don't have it, which our students would not, we are looking at what could be catastrophic. This would actually be the end of an institution like us. It has so frightened our board that our board last week, during their retreat, because of this pending legislation, actually closed off two contracts for other brownfields that were supposed to be cleaned and made into other buildings, commercial buildings that they refused to buy, not because they're -- they're taking any particular attitude about it but because they're in a defensive posture because they know if this does go through or something like it goes through, we're worried about staying open. So the concept of expanding and doing more for the community is -- is, comes right off the top.

We do about a thousand events at Goodwin College a year for the community. I can give you scads of reams of material of all the things we do in our community, which we're very closely tied to, because town-gown relations, I know are very close.

Last Friday, the Speaker spoke at an event at my school, for municipal leaders. And at that event at my school, he -- he posited this thing that would be very, very helpful, and you're going to get from mayors a very positive response because they're desperate. If you have a starving person and you offer them a loaf of bread, they're not going to ask you where the bread came from; they need to eat.

The municipalities are in desperate situation, and so I've talked to my mayor. Our mill rate is 45. We're already the second-largest taxpayer. She's desperate; she'd like to help out, but if she gets the ability to do a hundred percent, let me help you. If it's not this year it's next year, but they'll be a hundred-percent of our taxes being paid, which means that we're, we may not, we may not be there much longer.

And, by the way, as far as municipal services, crime in our area has gone down 50 percent since we've been there, over the last five years. And we take care of, we -- we can't think of many municipal services we take care of.

And I'll tough any questions you might have; I'll get off.

REP. ROJAS: Thank you, Mr. Scheinberg.

Are there any questions for him?

Seeing none, thank you.


REP. ROJAS: Paul Mutone, followed by Paul Maroni.

PAUL MUTONE: So good afternoon and thank you for having me to testify today, give the, provide testimony today.

I come to you as the Chief Financial Officer and Vice President of Operations at Trinity College, so in the transparency moment, Representative Rojas and I are colleagues at Trinity. But I am here to provide some commentary against the reverse PILOT or any type of PILOT payment for -- for that matter -- for colleges and -- and universities.

I think I want to start out by saying it seems one of the issues that I have heard might deal with colleges buying up properties and then taking them off the tax rolls. Well, in the five-and-a-half years that I've been affiliated with Trinity College, we have not purchased one piece of property that was taken off the tax rolls. And as a matter of course of -- of business, we just made a decision to enter into a privatized student housing deal, where the owner would be a private entity, full well knowing that it was going to provide several hundred thousand dollars in new tax revenue to the City of Hartford. So we -- we actually had that as a deciding factor when we decided whether to build the homes and own them ourselves or have a private developer be the owner of those houses. And again, that -- that has produced several hundred thousand dollars of additional annual real estate taxes to the city.

I think you're -- you're aware that we had a relatively large endowment; that is a very open for individual definition of what is large. It is very restrictive. It does not produce a lot of unrestricted income, and a lot of it goes to fund financial aid, now that the college is providing about $40 million a year in total financial aid, with several million of that to students who reside in the state of Connecticut, and at least a half-a-million to Hartford residents.

And our margin is very slim on our budget, and it, and it really is a zero-sum game. So any additional form of a real estate tax would cause us to reduce costs in other areas of the budget, financial aid being one of them. So that could drive students either to have to go to colleges outside of the state of Connecticut or push them more towards the public schools, which will in -- in turn cost taxpayers more money.

So, again, we -- we feel that, you know, we've been a good citizen with the City of Hartford. We fund operations such as the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance the Boys Club within Hartford, and we provide a Dream Camp location all summer long on our campus.

So, again, in summary, I -- I just would say that we are adamantly against this proposal.

And I thank you for allowing me to testify today.

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any questions?

Yes; Representative Diminico.

REP. DIMINICO: Thank you, Madam Chair.

I want to ask a very direct question that really cuts to the chase. If this became law, how, what -- what would occur at Trinity? Would -- would there be cut in staff, cut in programs, would tuition go up on the kids or all the above?

PAUL MUTONE: All of the above, and -- and, again, as I alluded to before, even financial aid would be in the equation. So we would have to consider all prudent measures; I don't think anything would be off the table.

So if a, you know, million dollars, $5 million, a hundred-thousand-dollar tax levy was -- was assessed, we would have to look at all of these items and --

REP. DIMINICO: So you --

PAUL MUTONE: -- probably others.

REP. DIMINICO: You would just prioritize and dig --


REP. DIMINICO: -- it up.

PAUL MUTONE: I -- I mean we -- we would do our best, obviously, to -- to prioritize. I -- I couldn't tell you today what they would be, but I would think towards the top of the list would have to be services we are already providing to the community, we would substitute, now having to pay taxes.

REP. DIMINICO: Very good. Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any other questions?

I figured I'd be the intermediary between you and your colleague. So thank you very much for coming; appreciate it.

PAUL MUTONE: Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Okay; hold on one minute.

REP. ROJAS: (Inaudible.) In the interest of transparency, someone brought to my attention whether I was sitting in this room with a conflict of interest. In the time since I asked that question, I called the Office of State Ethics and got a legal opinion from them, and they have clarified that I am in no way in conflict of interests right now, and they're going to provide that in -- in writing to me.

But to the, avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, I'm no longer commenting on that particular piece of legislation, which directly impacts my employer. So I just wanted to put that out there for everybody.

Kevin Lawlor.

My apologies to Mr. Maroni, if you're still here; I think I just skipped over you.


REP. ROJAS: So I apologize; we'll call you up next.


KEVIN LAWLOR: Good afternoon, and thank you for the opportunity to address you this afternoon.

My name is Kevin Lawlor; I'm the Executive Vice President, Chief Operating Officer of Fairfield University, and like many of my colleagues, Fairfield University is a not-for-profit organization that's been in business since 1942, providing for the education of kids from the surrounding areas, surrounding states.

So I'm here to express my deep concerns and strong opposition to House Bill 5583. Our concern centers on three facts. The bill as drafted does not sufficiently take into account the degree of economic impact a university like Fairfield has on the local community. The bill would in difficult financial times raise the cost of a college education, which we fight daily to keep down and puts such education outside the reach of more and more average students. And, finally, we're concerned that the bill would undermine the strong, mutually beneficial and cooperative relationship that our university enjoyed with the Town of Fairfield, a town, by the way, whose first selectman has spoken -- I think it's in your, in your packet -- against this bill. Fairfield has two universities within it, and we both seem to thrive and have a -- a co-beneficial relationship with the Town of Fairfield.

Fairfield is a comprehensive, four-year, residential institution. We have about 5,000 students, offering bachelors, masters, doctoral degrees from five schools, including the Charles Dolan School of Business.

The PILOT program exists because the state has traditionally, recognizes that colleges and universities provide an essential social, economic, and cultural function. They education our citizens and prepare them to be citizens in the fullest sense, responsible, reasonable, productive, and inclined to participate in civic institutions.

Universities also provide jobs, conduct research that benefits the well-being and enhances the wealth of our communities and provides expertise to businesses in the state that enhance the economic well-being and quality of our life for our citizens.

The proposed bill is contrary to the spirit and understanding of that long-standing tradition. We think PILOT in an exemplary program and that Bill 5583 fails to recognize just how integral a university like Fairfield is to the surrounding communities and to the extent to which a university like ours considers itself a civic institution and actively works to support and enhance the life of our community; 5583 would serve to threaten the harmony of town-and-gown relationships at a time when institutions like ours, which are major employers, as well as institutions that directly and indirectly, make a significant economic impact are, in fact, trying to work closer than ever with these towns that we serve, creating new partnerships, cooperations to promote business activity and enhance our shared community.

Briefly, I'd like to share with you some economic-impact figures as well as ways that Fairfield University works cooperative and integrally with the Town of Fairfield. Based on most recent figures we have, the PILOT program transfers about 1.9 million to the Town of Fairfield. According to a study compiled in 2012, by the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges, the overall figure for the impact that Fairfield University has in terms of sales of goods and services in the state is estimated at just over $250 million. This includes roughly 121 million in spending the university does, itself; approximately 13 million spent by students on clothes, foods, travel, and entertainment; and then, 116 million in an additional or induced economic activity generated by the university.

The employment impact is a total of 3,215 jobs in Connecticut, including 926 full-time, equivalent positions in the sector and outsourced operations; 2,289 full-time, equivalent positions in the rest of the Connecticut economy.

Further, we have about 19,000 alumni in the state, with a combined annual income of $1.3 billion, who pay approximately 161 million in taxes, as well on purchased goods and services.

While we have a big economic footprint, it's other ways in which we serve the community that I think are of special note. The university serves as a backup, emergency operation center for the town; during Hurricane Sandy; and, would serve in that capacity in any future emergency. When the town lost its only major down store, downtown bookstore, Fairfield opened up a full-service, community bookstore in that same flagship location.

In a cooperative venture with the town of Fairfield, we recently launched a business incubator. Our facilities are providing expertise and mentoring to clients who are seeking to open new areas of business. Through that program, we are working to help build local businesses in the local business community and expand our local tax base.

In the formal, written testimony that I am submitting, there are myriad of instances of formal partnerships, collaborations, and services in which the university, the Town of -- of Fairfield, and other municipalities, including the City of Bridgeport, benefit from our relationship.

In short, the identity and mission of Fairfield University is integrally linked to the life and vitality of the Town of Fairfield. As the towns prosper, so will the university and vice versa. As we move forward, we anticipate that we will be working even more closely with the town on cooperative ventures, and it is very much a mutually beneficial, mutually enhancing relationship.

I'd be happy to take your questions.

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any questions?

Senator Fox.

REP. D. FOX: Thank you, Madam Chair.

And good afternoon, sir.

KEVIN LAWLOR: Good afternoon.

REP. D. FOX: And thank you for -- for being here. As a graduate of Fairfield Prep, I'm quite familiar with your campus there and -- and the means by which it's located in the town and interacts with the town. Just out of curiosity, does the university own any property outside of that, what I'll call the "footprint" I guess, on -- on North Benson Road?

KEVIN LAWLOR: No, we've been on the same basic footprint for the 72 years we've been there, which include both the Prep and the University, which are co-linked, as you know.

REP. D. FOX: So there are no satellite campuses or -- or individual buildings --


REP. D. FOX: -- or (inaudible) centers

(inaudible) --

KEVIN LAWLOR: There are. There are two houses across the street from the university that we bought just for the traffic right-of-way, but that's the extent of our other property ownership.

REP. D. FOX: Good.

Thank you, very much.


SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any other questions?

Thank you --

KEVIN LAWLOR: Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: -- very much for coming; appreciate it.

Mr. Maroni, you're up, and you'll be followed by Shawn Harrington.

PAUL L. MARONI: Thank you, Senator.

SENATOR OSTEN: You're welcome.

PAUL L. MARONI: Good afternoon, Senator Osten, Representative Rojas, and other members of the Planning and Development Committee. My name is Paul Maroni; I'm the Vice President for Finance at Connecticut College, in New London.

I'm here today to register Connecticut's strong opposition to House Bill 5583. The bill threatened to harm private colleges, strip our not-for-profit institutions of critical resources, and have an immediate, negative impact on the cities and towns where we operate.

Tax exemption for private colleges in Connecticut recognizes that our work offers important benefits to the public, as we pursue our missions of teaching, research, and service. Such tax exemption has been universally offered and accepted throughout our country's states and municipalities, its basis dating to our country's founding.

Employing 875 people, Connecticut College stands as a foundation for economic stability in southeastern Connecticut, the third-largest employer in New London; we missed the top-two list that was presented earlier. Our payroll is $65 million, approximately one-half of our annual operating budget and is reinvested into the region by our employees who pay property taxes, shop, eat, and hire locally, and donate both their energy and money to local charities and community activities.

Connecticut College provides critical resources to our community, through the volunteerism of faculty, staff, and hundreds of students each year. Our faculty and staff serve on boards of local nonprofits, providing expertise and financial supports in New London and the region. New London schools benefit from the work of both our faculty as consultants and our students as aides, mentors, and tutors.

Our students volunteer in more than 50 community organizations, in areas such as health and wellness, education, arts and culture, and early childhood development. The College Arboretum campus is open to the public, as are its library and certain of its athletic fields and facilities.

Connecticut College is a destination for thousands of visitors each year who seek our campus for cultural, intellectual, athletic, and entertainment events; in short, they spend money in New London and in the surrounding area and the surrounding region when they visit the college.

Connecticut College's overall economic impact in the state is well above a-hundred-fifty-million dollars annually in direct and indirect contributions. The number builds from the multiplier effect of spending by our employees, students, visitors, and Connecticut-based vendors.

Connecticut College's annual operating budget totals $134 million. It supports the college in many ways that alleviate burdens on the surrounding community. Indeed, Connecticut College functions as a small city with its own safety force, trash collection, snow plowing, and road maintenance, even its own power plant. Over 70 percent of our budget is spent on people, through compensation to our employees and financial aid grants to almost half of our students.

The imposition of a significant, new charge in the form of property taxes will only force Connecticut College to curtail funding that supports the very activities for which our long-standing tax exemption has been maintained. In so doing, we'll be forced to reduce the base of service and economic support we now offer our region and our state.

Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you, very much.

And I was wondering; Mitchell College says that of their own accord they pay a -- a nominal --


SENATOR OSTEN: -- tax payment. Do you something similar to that?

PAUL L. MARONI: We have an agreement with the city, dating back to 2007, I believe, where we pay a-hundred-thousand dollars over the course of ten years.

SENATOR OSTEN: Okay; so at ten thousand a year.

PAUL L. MARONI: Yes. It -- it was a little less and it's -- it's stepped up now to about twelve-five a year.

SENATOR OSTEN: Oh, that's good; okay.

Are there any questions?

And you did that as a result of just an agreement with the town, based on services?

PAUL L. MARONI: Frankly, we -- we did it as a result of, it was the outgrowth of a, of a lawsuit in which the city placed one of our buildings on the tax rolls. And we pursued that and achieved a summary judgment that relieved us of the responsibility for taxes, and in the discussions following that summary judgment, we agreed to the -- the ten years of payments.

SENATOR OSTEN: Okay. Thank you, very much.

PAUL L. MARONI: You're welcome.

SENATOR OSTEN: Any questions then?

Next up is Shawn Harrington, followed by Chris Hartley.

SHAWN HARRINGTON: Good afternoon. My name is Shawn Harrington, and I am Vice President of Finance Administration at the University of St. Joseph, located, it's main campus in West Hartford, nearby.

University of St. Joseph was founded by the Sisters of Mercy, in the Roman Catholic tradition, in 1932, and provides a rigorous liberal arts and professional education for a rather diverse student population, while maintaining a strong commitment developed, developing potential of women. The university is a community that promotes the growth of the whole person in a caring environment that encourages strong ethical values, personal integrity, and a sense of responsibility to the needs of society.

Like my colleagues testifying before me, we're also very concerned about imposing, again, higher cost of -- of conducting our business as an academic enterprise. The university today enrolls approximately 2,600 students. A thousand of these students are undergraduate. Approximately 1,300 are graduate students, and we've recently started a School of Pharmacy and occupy space in the downtown Hartford, area of Hartford 21 building.

Over 90 percent of our student population are female. Over 88 percent of our students are Connecticut residents, and roughly 85 percent of the alumni of the entire university, going back to its founding, are still living and working in Connecticut and make that their home.

Eighty-two percent of the students at our institution receive scholarship and/or aid. I think that's significant in terms of what you've heard before in terms of some of the other testimony. It speaks to the students we serve, the socioeconomic impact we have, and the ability of our institution to continue providing affordable education. So a higher cost of us conducting business through a property tax would significantly impact our ability to continue to hold tuition and keep that opportunity affordable.

Thirty-seven percent of all of our students are Pell-eligible, which means they are operating and, again, with significant financial aid needs to afford an education. And that number is growing; this year it'll be over 40 percent. Our institutional financial aid amounts to $11 million, with an operating budget of $60 million. We have a discount rate for our students in our undergraduate program of greater than 50 percent. Our -- our endowment, while growing, is very modest and provides less than two percent in support of our operations. So, again, we don't have the benefit of a large endowment. We obviously are working to grow that over time, but we don't, we're not benefiting from that today.

We enjoy a -- a great town-gown relationship with the Town of West Hartford and equally with the Town of Hartford, as we've moved a School of Pharmacy into that space. I believe that the impact on our institution as we go forward wouldn't be a matter of just simply looking at what costs could we cut, but it would significantly impact our plans for growth in the future, as we look at other opportunities to expand programs in West Hartford, in Hartford, and the surrounding area.

Again, ours is an issue as a small, private institution, of affordability, which is paramount, and the impact of any higher cost in doing business is going to create a real hardship on our ability to execute.

Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you, very much, for coming.

Are there any questions?

Thank you, very much.

Chris Hartley, followed by Francis Alaimo.

CHRISTOPHER HARTLEY: Good afternoon, Madam Chairman, members of the committee.

I'm Chris Hartley, Senior Vice President of St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center. I'm here to oppose House Bill 5583 and support, if you will, the current tax exemption and Payment in Lieu of Taxing Program that exists in the state as well as the Governor's decision to put more money into that program. And I also want to urge you to consider Senator Looney's suggestions about perhaps a different way to fund payments under that program.

St. Francis Hospital and Medical Centers had the privilege of servicing this community for nearly 117 years. The focus of that service has been health care throughout that time period, and though the range of our services has grown over time, the commitment to meet the needs of the populations in our community, regardless of ability to pay has remained throughout.

St. Francis at this point in time employs over 3,700 individuals, represents about 1.3 billion in economic benefit to the state of Connecticut and our region as a whole, and clearly those employees and their families support their local taxes, support their local communities and a vital part of the communities they represent.

St. Francis has also had the ability to improve its health care delivery system over time. It is recognized for a wide variety of excellent health care programs, by Consumer Reports, by Leapfrog, by, and a variety of other organizations for the quality of the health care we give.

But we also go beyond that; we provide over $89.5 million in community benefit to those that cannot afford to pay for their care or services that would not be supported otherwise. That's an important part of our ability to give back to this community that we care for so much.

Quite frankly, we pay $1.6 million a year in property taxes for programs and services that are not related to our health care mission in spaces that we have in our hospital system in the City of Hartford. We can't afford to pay more taxes and meet all the additional burdens we're being asked to carry, the hospital tax, the cuts for Medicare, the unfunded coverage of Medicaid. We can't carry all those burdens and continue to provide the services that we have if we continue to see more and more taxes passed on to the hospital system.

We urge you to consider this: Hospitals can't move out of the communities they're in; they're there and they have been providing services for long periods of time. But hospitals can fail. So if we constantly put additional burdens on hospitals, add additional cost that they cannot afford to pay for as part of the program, something has to give, and what will give is the quality of health care we provide, the range of services we meet the needs for, and that's something we as a community should not allow.

We urge you not to support this bill and to continue to think of better and more creative ways to support the mission that we have in this community.

Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you, very much, for coming.

Are there any questions?

Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO: Not to put you on spot, but I'm going to put you on the spot. Do you think that if -- I don't know if you were here earlier, with respect to some of the questioning -- but do you think that there are some -- without giving your, up your right to disagree later on -- do you think that there's some element of a hospital that could be perceived as being business such that in rewriting this, you know, we don't -- I don't want to hurt hospitals because they're going through a tough time now, and I get that, but some areas of a hospital that could be deemed business-like as opposed to hospital-like, and therefore would relent to some areas of being taxed?

CHRISTOPHER HARTLEY: I think, as I just mentioned, in my testimony, we pay $1.6 million a year to the City of Hartford for businesses that are business-like but are not health-care related, directly. So we already do that. Additionally, I think what's lost a lot of times is the economic (inaudible) --

SENATOR FASANO: Can I just ask a question --


SENATOR FASANO: -- on 1.6. Is that 1.6 relegated to just, hey, here's a stipend? And that's what I didn't understand from the testimony.



CHRISTOPHER HARTLEY: That's taxes on (inaudible) --

SENATOR FASANO: Or did you actually -- yeah, but here's -- here's tax money that we believe, but could you look at a spreadsheet and say that's for this building on this corner, the top story of that corner, or is it just 1.6 --

CHRISTOPHER HARTLEY: No, you can look at a spreadsheet and look at exactly what it's for.


CHRISTOPHER HARTLEY: And I think the more important question you have to ask yourself though is when you look at where you're going to get money from, why do you need the money? If you're not paying the appropriate part to the PILOT program that you should be paying, all you're doing is asking somebody else to pay it because you aren't funding the PILOT program appropriately.

If you're not paying the fair cost of Medicaid, therefore you're having the hospitals have to subsidize that by not paying the fair cost of Medicaid, you're simply asking somebody else to pay it. What we've got to stop doing around here is moving the ball around and seeing if somebody else can pay some more, and that's what we've got to stop doing.

SENATOR FASANO: That's an absolutely fair criticism; there's no question about it. Look, we promised we'd get a-hundred-percent-fund PILOT and we didn't. And then we add more property to the PILOT money, to the PILOT pie without putting more cream in the pie, and then we don't understand why municipalities are having a difficult time. I get that. And that's why the bill, where it sends you up to OPM to make the argument we need money is even a worse scenario for you, because if we can't get it, I know you can't get it. That's the problem I have. So I agree with you.



SENATOR OSTEN: Thanks, so much, for coming.

Any other questions?

Thank you, very much.

Francis Alaimo.

A VOICE: (Inaudible.)

SENATOR OSTEN: I tell ya, I'll get them all at some point, and followed by Melvyn Colon.

A VOICE: Okay.


FRANCIS ALAIMO: So this is my testimony on Bill 5541, so I got to make a couple of changes. I got to change good morning to good afternoon, and I have to add Mr. Chair; I have Madam Chair, so we'll go from there.

So good afternoon, Madam Chair, and distinguished members of the board, the board of -- and the committee. My name is Francis Alaimo; I've been employed by the Thompsonville Fire Department for 35 years. I am currently a member of the Connecticut Career Chiefs, and I have the pleasure of sitting on the Labor Management Committee, as well as the Legislative Committee.

I come here today in support of Bill 5514 [sic], written in its current excerpt. I do not agree with the five-commissioner; we as a district took care of that on March 19th, just this week, and you can see that in Exhibit 1. We do have five commissioners, and that will take effect this coming year.

As some of you may remember, we were here last year for a similar bill; this particular bill did not come out of committee. After that process, a lawsuit was filed against the Thompsonville Fire District. It was filed by the Concerned Taxpayers of the Thompsonville Fire District, on October 3, 2013. The lawsuit was dismissed by Judge Peck, in favor of the Thompsonville Fire District; see Exhibit 2. On October -- that's a typo, should be 25th -- 2013, an appeal was filed by Attorney Ryan McKeen; see Exhibit 3. The fire district responded to that appeal; you can see that in Exhibit 4. A pretrial conference is scheduled at the Appellate Court on April 3, 2014.

In late December 2014 [sic], we received a telephone call from Representative David Alexander in which he invited us to meet with him to discuss our special act. Myself and my Assistant Chief, William Provencher and I agreed to the meeting. Representative Alexander was representing the CTTFD, the group that filed the suit, the plaintiffs, in a lawsuit. He was wondering if we could come to some kind of compromise to resolve the differences. We agreed to negotiate in good faith, and we're excited about the offer. I sent Mr. -- Mr. Alexander an e-mail; see Exhibit 5.

My e-mail to Mr. -- Mr. Alexander, dated January 10th, March 10th, March 13, 2014 -- see Exhibit 6 -- shows that good faith bargaining had started and was continuing on a positive track. At the same time, we were in negotiations with our local union, Thompsonville Firefighters IAFF Local 3059. So our negotiations and dialogue with Representative Alexander became one. As you will see in the items that we proposed, we were in the interest of the health and safety of firefighters, the district recognizing state statutes, such as the Municipal Employees Act, protection of our firefighters, and protection from staff reduction and the needed, necessary equipment.

We proposed this: We proposed that the district budget go to referendum if it exceeded four percent increase from a previous fiscal year budget. Shortly after our verbal, shortly after our verbal, tentative agreement, Representative Alexander -- that -- and ourselves reached, we did receive -- we didn't receive everything we asked for relative to job protection, health and safety for firefighters, but we understand that's part of the process.

Paul Rapanault, representative from the Uniform Professional Firefighters Association of Connecticut, in good spirit of good-faith bargaining, finalized the agreement with Representative Alexander over a three percent increase in the budget would require a referendum.

As for the proposed legislation, when it was completed, we had an opportunity to review it on March 13, 2014.

The fire district, the fire district's attorney, Attorney Carl Landolina, e-mailed Representative Alexander, describing the steps that the district already taken to, relative to the five commissioners and offered to help him with the three percent trigger language; see Exhibit 7.

Shortly after Representative Alexander notified the CTTFD, the plaintiffs on the agreement, on March 14th, the Vice President of the CTTFD posted the group's opinion on the agreement between the parties; see Example A.

The collective bargaining agreement process proceeded between the district and the Thompsonville Firefighters Local 3059. The both sides of the table having the knowledge of the three percent trigger, it helped us tremendously in reaching a tentative agreement.

On March 18, 2014, the parties signed off on a tentative agreement for a collective bargain agreement that will run through June 30, 2017. Just hours after reaching that agreement, we received a phone call from the Capitol that Representative Alexander has changed his position and was going to withdraw the three percent trigger for a referendum on a budget.

I appreciate all the time and effort Representative Alexander put into the process, and it was a pleasure to work with him. But now that Representative Alexander has taken this position, I do not support or agree with his proposed legislation, his amendment that you're about to get, of House Bill -- and if it stays the same number -- 5514 [sic].

Respectively submitted, Francis Alaimo, Fire Chief, Thompsonville Fire Department.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you, very much, for coming.

Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO: Chief, thank you for coming up.

I didn't look at the lawsuit and I saw that the lawsuit was really, this is dismissed on nonsubstantive grounds; that is, lack of standing. So I understand it really didn't say who's right or wrong or what the issue was; it just said the folks that brought it didn't have the right to bring it, essentially.

Let me ask you this: With respect to the issues that I, some other gentleman who's on the board, who's in the audience talked about; do you have a problem with if we took the terms and we, you know, made it so not every, you know, staggered the terms? Are you okay?

FRANCIS ALAIMO: Absolutely okay with that.

SENATOR FASANO: Okay. Are you okay with the vote that's held in May, the swearing in being done at the same time, such that at the end of that evening, everybody's in the position they're supposed to be in --


SENATOR FASANO: -- and everybody's got the title, whatever and how that happens?

FRANCIS ALAIMO: Over the 35 years I've been there, that used to happen, some years ago. But what they did is they warned it for a special meeting to occur after the district meeting, was duly warned to swear in a chairman. So that process used to happen, 25 or 30 years ago; it just, things just changed --


FRANCIS ALAIMO: -- around.

SENATOR FASANO: Yeah, just changed.

FRANCIS ALAIMO: Yeah, but --

SENATOR FASANO: You have a problem --

FRANCIS ALAIMO: -- (inaudible) warn it that they would do the --

SENATOR FASANO: Okay; all right. And -- and so the real gripe here is the three percent trigger --


SENATOR FASANO: -- since you understood that now is removed --


SENATOR FASANO: -- and it's like (inaudible).



FRANCIS ALAIMO: That's the, that's our -- our issue here. I believe you have testimony submitted by --


FRANCIS ALAIMO: -- our union Vice President, David Hayes, and Dr. Rapanault from the -- the Connecticut Professional Firefighters Association, all of us in agreeance with the three percent trigger, which allows us to -- to operate easier and able to, able to follow state statutes relative to, for example, an arbitration award that is awarded to the district.

The district must fund an arbitrary award, so if a budget is turned down, I don't know, you're kind of putting the cart before the horse. I'm sure the union will have us in court real quick if we don't fund an arbitration. So it just gives us a little leeway to move forward.

And the big thing is the firefighters don't have to worry about getting laid off if the budget gets voted down; so --


FRANCIS ALAIMO: -- we -- we thought that was a good compromise, and we were hoping we were going to move forward from there and settle our differences.

SENATOR FASANO: Chief, thank you, very much, and thanks for coming up.

FRANCIS ALAIMO: You're welcome. Am I dismissed?

SENATOR OSTEN: I -- not yet.


SENATOR OSTEN: Is there any other questions?

You are dismissed now, sir.

FRANCIS ALAIMO: Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.

SENATOR OSTEN: Melvyn Colon, followed by Orlando Rodriguez.

MELVYN COLON: Senator Fasano, Senator Osten, and members of the committee. My name is Melvyn Colon; I'm the Executive Director of the Southside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance, SINA, and SINA's partnership between Hartford Hospital, Trinity College, and the Connecticut Children's Medical Center.

I'm testifying against House Bill 5583. And in the interest of transparency, I should note that Jason Rojas, Representative Rojas is on my board of directors, but he did not -- I'm here on my own; he didn't ask me to testify against this bill.

SENATOR OSTEN: (Inaudible.)

MELVYN COLON: SINA's mission is to work cooperatively with community stakeholders to restore economic vitality and improve the quality of life for the benefit of the people who live, work, study, visit, and play in the communities of South Central Hartford.

SINA was created over 35 years ago, and when it was created, it was a pioneering partnership between the institutions in the south end. Since that time, anchor institutions in cities across the country, in Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and other places have followed the example of SINA by joining together to promote revitalization of their surrounding communities.

As nonprofit institutions, they feel a social obligation to invest in job creation, housing, health and other services to support and strengthen schools and to promote economic development. Their investment is not made in the form of property taxes, but it provides a much needed injection of targeted dollars to lift up their communities. Hartford Hospital, CCMC, and Trinity College have invested $16 million in SINA, in the SINA communities, over the last 20 years to support economic development in the south end of Hartford.

This investment has resulted in numerous benefits to the community. SINA's signature project, the Learning Corridor, houses four magnet schools as well as gallery performance and community spaces on what had been one of the most blighted, environmentally contaminated sites in the city. The $10 million that Trinity College, Hartford Hospital, and CCMC invested in the Learning Corridor leveraged a-hundred-million dollars in private and public funding. This project has directed positive, national attention to Hartford, as an example of what can happen when institutions work together with city and state policy makers.

Housing development continues to be a significant benefit of the investment of the institutions that comprise SINA. Our housing development efforts have developed 83 affordable apartment units and created 60 homes for working -- working families in the greater-Frog Hollow area. We also administer the Homeownership Incentive Program through which employees of Hartford Hospital, Trinity College -- Trinity College, and coming soon, CCMC, receive down payment assistance from -- from their employers to buy homes in the south end of Hartford.

Because of the institutional investment in SINA, the City of Hartford now receives $265,000 in property tax revenues that it would not have received, had these properties remained abandoned. SINA, through the institutions, also provides 55 graduates of Bulkeley High School with scholarships since 1997, and through a new program, started last year, awards scholarships to students attending Capitol Community College.

Compelled to pay property taxes, the partnership between the institutions would undoubtedly continue, however it's unlikely that the member institutions would be able to continue to fund SINA's efforts to revitalize the surrounding neighborhoods. Financial contributions would likely be more tightly focused on the mission of each institution. Support for housing development, economic development, and college scholarships would no longer be economically feasible. The loss would go beyond money or housing units; the community would lose development capacity that has built up over the last 20 years. It would leave Frog Hollow and surrounding neighborhoods without a viable community development entity.

The residents of Frog Hollow and surrounding communities would bear a disproportionate burden as a result of this, as there is little evidence that the city or the state would step in to make up for lost revenues.

SENATOR OSTEN: So Mr. Colon, I'm wondering if you could wrap it up a lit bit.

MELVYN COLON: For lost revenues or capacity.


MELVYN COLON: You just missed it.

SENATOR OSTEN: Jeez; I'm telling you, I did perfect.

Did anybody have any question?

Thank you, very much, for coming.

MELVYN COLON: Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Orlando Rodriguez.

Alice; Alice Facente will be next.

ORLANDO J. RODRIGUEZ: Senator Osten, Representative Rojas, and distinguished members of the Planning and Development Committee, I'm a Senior Policy Fellow with Connecticut Voices for Children, a research-based, policy, education, and advocacy organization that works statewide to promote the well-being of Connecticut's children, youth, and family. I was also co-chair of the Impediments to Fair Housing Choice Task Force.

Today, I am here on behalf of Connecticut Voices for Children to testify regarding House Bill 5582, AN ACT CONCERNING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE IMPEDIMENTS TO FAIR HOUSING TASK FORCE. We support the bill, which requires the Department of Housing to review state housing regulations in order to determine whether such regulations comply with state and federal laws concerning fair housing.

We recommend additional language to require this review to include the degree to which statutes, regulations, incentives, project selection, and allocation criteria have or have not resulted in affirmatively furthering fair housing for families with children; the degree to which statutes, regulations, incentives, project selection, and allocation criteria have or have not resulted in the disproportionate concentration of state-funded and federal-funded subsidized housing for families with children in the enrollment area of schools performing below proficient; necessary steps to remediate current residential segregation by race and ethnicity, which has been exasperated [sic] by past allocations of public housing funds; and finally, necessary steps to increase the availability of state-funded and federal-funded subsidized housing in the enrollment area of schools performing at or above proficient.

Studies have found that children who move frequently fall behind significantly in their educational attainment and are at greater risk of dropping out. Often the lack of long-term, affordable housing is a root cause for high mobility among families with children. Furthermore, when affordable housing is available only in areas with struggling schools, it further limits the opportunity for children from low-income families to break the cycle of poverty.

Thank you for this opportunity to testify regarding H.B. 5582. We support this legislation and call for the state to more closely link housing policies and education policies, in order to eliminate the large achievement gap among minority children in Connecticut.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you, very much.

Are there any comments or questions?

And you made it under the three minutes; thank you.

Alice Facente. Hi, Alice. How are you? Nice to see you.


My name is Alice Facente, and I'm a community health nurse at Hartford Healthcare, the East Region, Backus Hospital and Windham Hospital. As a nurse for more than three decades, I have never seen the need for health care greater than I do today. The amount of care we are providing in underserved communities continues to increase, and even more importantly, the acuity of patients is higher than ever before.

It is commonplace for us to provide a screening at a soup kitchen, church or homeless shelter and to refer a participant to our community department for dangerously high blood pressure. Literally, the free care we are providing can mean the difference life and death. Unfortunately, the wide range of free health care we provide to the poorest and economically disadvantaged sections of New London, Windham, and Tolland Counties would be in jeopardy if this bill passes.

Although I am certainly not well versed in the details of the state's PILOT program, I do understand that this is one of the reasons we can offer these costly services to those who are unable to pay for them.

Both Backus and Windham Hospitals have conducted community health needs assessments to determine what the major health issues are in their surrounding communities, and they use data to target their health activities so appropriate health care is offered when and where it is needed most. And both hospitals are committed to fundamentally changing the health care delivery system, moving from a model where the norm was costly inpatient stays and emergency room visits to a system in which preventative care is offered outside the walls of the hospital and in communities before people get so sick that they need costlier care. I would hate to see such innovations stall; we have come too far.

In Fiscal Year 2013, Backus provided approximately $4.5 million in community benefits, impacting more than 215,000 people. In addition, Backus offered more than $5.8 million in charity care for those who were unable to pay.

Backus has two mobile health units that bring health care to the neediest populations. The vehicles offer primary care, blood pressure clinics, bone density screenings, cholesterol screenings, and a wide range of health education. In addition, if people are identified without primary care providers, they're signed up for a visit to a physician if they are in an uninsured or -- or underinsured.

I might add that one of our mobile health vans is parked at the Sprague Food Pantry, as we speak, and providing primary care, Senator Osten's hometown. I would be there if I wasn't providing this testimony.

The -- I had a list of programs that are not funded by any insurance, Medicaid or Medicare, and these are just a few of the many programs Backus and Windham Hospitals offer to the community for those who need them, regardless of their ability to pay. We're at the forefront of the population health movement.

If this bill passes, these programs could be eliminated or drastically reduced. While this might help bring in more tax revenue in the short run, the cost to society and Connecticut in the long run will be much higher.

Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: I knew the van was down there in Sprague and they -- they, the community center feeds over 200 families in the, in a town the size of only 3,000 people, every Friday.


SENATOR OSTEN: Every Friday. I think that that's really important to note.


SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you, very much, for doing that, Alice.

Are there any questions?

Thank you, very much.

We have Gary Dee up next, followed by Mike Wallace.

GARY J. DEE: Before I get started, I would like to thank the committee for allowing me the opportunity to testify before you. I will be brief.

For the record, my name is Dr. Gary Dee; I'm the Director of Radiology and a partner in Midstate Radiology Associates. We have served the communities in Meriden, Wallingford, and Cheshire for over 30 years. And for the record, my organization does pay property taxes.

In these difficult economic time in the state of Connecticut, it is understandable that municipalities be looking for increasing revenue through property taxes, but looking at our nonprofit hospitals for the source of revenue is the absolute wrong place to -- to look at this time. The nonprofit hospitals in the state of Connecticut are invaluable resources in this era that are facing decreased reimbursement and increasing demand for their services for patients that are not insured or underinsured. The financial models the hospitals are working under is under tremendous stress.

The nonprofit hospitals give back to communities in so many ways that are not recorded in the tax rolls of municipalities. There are many cases, particularly in Meriden, one of the largest employers who give good jobs and great benefits.

The other thing that I think has to be looked at is when the nonprofit hospitals give care and the physicians that work there 24/7, they do not look to see what your insurance is before they take care of you. And as you guys grapple with the -- the conversion to non to profit hospitals, it has to be understood that nonprofit hospitals take everyone, no matter what their insurance are. Do not call for a taxi if you have the wrong insurance plan.

In addition, our hospitals give back significantly to the community in many free-service and outreach programs. The one that I am particularly proud of is the one we just recently started at Midstate for lung screening. As many of you may or may not know, the American College of Radiology funded a -- a program and divided smokers into two groups, once, one who was screened group and one was not screened for lung cancer.

The group that was screened -- as doctor, as Senator Fasano has heard this one before -- we've had a 20 percent reduction in mortality. And Midstate, to accomplish this and to use the best technology, my organization, the hospital spent millions of dollars to buy low-dose CT scanners. So we did; we established a study, and then in Meriden, we decided not to charge for it. So I make zero, the hospital makes zero on that investment. We've done a-hundred-and-fifty patients, and if insurance was charged, it's be a thousand dollars. That's a-hundred-and-fifty-thousand dollars that the hospital gave to the community without being, any record in the taxes or other thing.

These are important things to understand. There is so many programs like that, that cost a lot of money, and we need the capital to extend it. If you want to take property taxes, you want to reduce Medicaid, we're not going to be able do it with the proper machinery.

In summation, nonprofit hospitals give back to the community in so many ways that are, that far exceed what I consider the property taxes. And addition, if you add these expenses on, we will not be able to capitalize on the equipment and these programs in the future, and I think you'll see a gradual decrease, marked decrease in the quality of care in the communities.

Thank you. Any questions for me?

SENATOR OSTEN: I don't know yet; I'll find out, though.

Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO: Yes. Thank you for the work that you've done on that. I think that that, I, as we've talked --

GARY J. DEE: It was my pleasure.

SENATOR FASANO: -- (inaudible) in meetings.

GARY J. DEE: Thank you.

SENATOR FASANO: One thing I will say, though, there's -- there's a push, and you guys got to be aware of that, and around this building, that not-for-profit hospitals versus -- it's a little off topic, but not much -- not-for-profit hospitals that had this community need, with the Affordable Care Act, since arguably everybody has insurance, the -- I said arguably; I'm not --

GARY J. DEE: Yeah.

SENATOR FASANO: -- agreeing with the statement.

GARY J. DEE: I got that.

SENATOR FASANO: Arguably, that everyone has insurance, the need for community hospitals perhaps have reached an end and for-profit hospitals need to come in. And that's the reason why you see some legislation around this building dealing with that issue. And there's conversations, as I understand it, outside this building dealing with that issue. And it's something that I think hospitals like your place need to be aware of, that that is a live creature in this building.

And in short session, you never know what's going to happen, but you got to get tapped into it, as I'm telling other hospitals to do, because I think conversations are taking place without the benefit of hospital input. And what community hospitals do for a community is above and beyond that whole tax issue, and I would suggest above and beyond what a for-profit hospital may do. And that need is still there. And there are people in this building who may think it's not there, and I think there's a push to get something done this session, which is incredible to me, in that is a short session.

But I don't hear the hospitals at the table. And we have that saying that if you're not at the table, you become the meal, so I would suggest that, you know, you guys get plugged into some of these conversations in this building.

GARY J. DEE: Yeah. I -- I know. I know there's quite a bit going on between the profits and the nonprofit, you know, not -- profit hospitals coming into the state. And there may be a need for them, since there, we have a number of hospitals that are failing.

But as you said, with the Affordable Care Act, there's insurance and there's insurance. And if you don't have the right insurance in many parts of this country, they'll, some hospitals will put you in a taxi and send you to wherever you have the right insurance. And I don't think that's going to change with the Affordable Care Act.

And that's my own opinion, though, and I think it's important that the nonprofit hospitals in the state have the ability to reach out to the communities, as best they can, for a long time.

SENATOR FASANO: And I think as policy makers, we have to be, I think -- this is my personal view -- we have to be cognizant that if the Legislature decides to leave everything alone, then we're making a nondecision to make a decision that the for-profits have got to come in, because we're not helping out our not-for-profits. And if we're going to do that, then we sort of made a decision by not helping out not-for-profits; we're going to let profit hospitals come in.

I think that should be a -- a conscious-policy decision not a lack-of-effort decision.

GARY J. DEE: I absolutely agree with you that nondecisions are the worst type of decisions to make.

SENATOR FASANO: Yeah. Thank you. And thank you for coming up.

GARY J. DEE: Thank you.

REP. ROJAS: Are there any further questions; none?

Seeing none, thank you.

Mike Wallace, followed by Lori Longhi.

MICHAEL WALLACE: Good afternoon, Senator Osten, Representative Rojas, Senator Fasano, Representative Aman, and distinguished members of the Planning and Development Committee.

My name is Michael Wallace, and I am the Vice President of the Connecticut Environmental Council, otherwise known as "CTEC." I appreciate this opportunity to offer my comments in support of House Bill 5580, in regards to Sections 1 to 3.

CTEC is a membership organization representing Connecticut associations and professionals. Our members include Grounds Keepers Association, the Tree Protection Association, the Pest Control Association, the Irrigation Contractors Association, and the Association of Golf Course Superintendents. All of our members are licensed and educated professionals.

There are three reasons to support House Bill 5580. First and most importantly, this legislation puts the oversight and evaluation of pesticides for safety and effectiveness where it should be, with the Pesticide Advisory Council and the regulatory process with the DEEP commissioner. The Pesticide Advisory Council has the expertise to utilize the best scientific minds and experienced researchers to make recommendations on best management practices for pesticide use. Serving on the advisory council are the Director of the Agricultural Experiment Station, Commissioner of Agriculture, Commissioner of Public Health, the dean of UCONN's College of Agriculture. This distinguished group of experts would be responsible for making recommendations for best management practices for the use of synthetic and organic pesticides by municipalities.

Second, House Bill 5580 seeks to create an on-line registry, similar to the one already being utilized in Massachusetts. Such an on-line registry of pesticide use would transfer piles of unread pesticide reports at DEEP into a system that professional applicators, town managers, parks employees, and citizens could review. The system would lead to a better sharing of best management practices for school grounds, athletic fields, and municipal properties.

Finally, this bill encourages municipalities to work together on a regional basis to make group purchases of products to protect municipal properties from pest populations.

Other 20 organizations which are responsible for and maintain municipal properties support this balanced, science-based approach to ensure that our communities have safe and pest-free parks, playgrounds, athletic fields, and municipal greens.

The passing of House Bill 5580 would meet our recommendation. We respectfully request your support for this legislation.

Thank you for this opportunity to provide you with this testimony.

I would be glad to answer any questions.

REP. ROJAS: Thank you, Mr. Wallace, and good timing.

Are there any questions for Mr. Wallace?

Seeing none, thank you.

MICHAEL WALLACE: You're welcome.

REP. ROJAS: A Lori Longhi, followed by Ron Thomas.

LORI LONGHI: Good afternoon. I'm Lori Longhi -- that was close -- but I would like to thank the entire Planning and Development Committee for the opportunity to testify today.

I am in support of the substitute language with no trigger and the information about the LLCs for House Bill 5541.

And, Senator Fasano, I am so happy that you came back, because I am one of the LLCs that you were asking about.

I first would like to tell you that I'm a third-generation property owner in Thompsonville. I also own more than one property there. One of the properties that I own burnt, burnt down on April 27, 2012; it was a total loss. This house had been my grandfather's house, my aunt's house, and then I purchased it. If anyone on -- understands

the need for fire protection, I do. I respect the firemen that put their lives on the line every day to protect the people and their property. With that said, I feel my fundamental right to vote was just taken away because the management of the District did not want the people to vote. This is wrong. LLCs lost their vote in 2009 when an amendment went into the Special Act that controls the District that said you had to be a person to vote. I own my properties in the LLC.

The Connecticut General Statutes Chapter 613 Limited Liability Companies Section 34-101, the definition of a person is: The person means an individual, a general partnership, a limited partnership, a domestic or foreign limited liability company.

We have five fire districts in Enfield, and my LLC can vote in any other District except for Thompsonville. And I have voted in other districts, the same exact LLC. I go, I get one vote. I found out that I couldn't vote when I arrived at a meeting to vote on whether to build the new fire station. The management of the Fire District told me, no, only people can vote. I said, I'm -- own property in the District, I pay tax in the District. I live in the town of Enfield.

The person alongside of me was another owner of an LLC. He was the member of a large lumber company in the town of Thompsonville. He was also turned away that day. We were both stunned. I didn't think it was fair because my father owns a mall in a partnership, and there's four partners, and all of them get a vote. I, as an LLC, don't get any vote. I am just looking for the right to vote in the District. I care about the District. I want to have a say in what goes on in this District.

REP. ROJAS: Thank you, Ms. Longhi, Longhi.

Are there any questions? Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO: Yes, thank you for clarifying that. As I said, one of the concerns we had is we couldn't find any research in which an LLC had a right to vote. So, we will review that research. And I don't know, they'll figure it out. They'll get back to us with something on it as to how that's derived, whether that's by Special Act, whether that's by their own bylaws. I don't know, but I'd be interested to figure out how that authority arose and where that would leave if we did codify it.

I mean, if it's within some other District which are local bylaws, whatever, that may be different than the Legislature doing it, and I don't know that to be the case either, you know. It's something we will, we will, I guess, look at because we're obligated to do -- we'll have an answer for you. But that's the only thing that gave us some concern, is that we were advised by our research staff that they didn't know there was some provision in the statute that allows an LLC to vote. That's what raised our concern and we don't want to be the first thing out there to do that.

LORI LONGHI: Right, and I -- and I appreciate that. And I -- when I went -- the way the other District looked at it was the LLCs have to file a statutory agent with the Secretary of State. So, the statutory agent was the person that they viewed eligible to vote in the other districts. So, I went with my license. I was a statutory agent.


LORI LONGHI: And the statutory agent has to be a person. So, that's pretty much an easy fix because you were talking earlier about how do we know which person from the LLC.


LORI LONGHI: It's pretty easy if it's already identified at the Secretary of State's office.

SENATOR FASANO: And that's a good point. And I know that a lot of lawyers who create LLCs made themselves as a statutory agent so they could keep contact with the client, frankly. And if they get sued they get the writ and they say, "Hey, listen, you got sued. Do you want me to throw my appearance in?" So, that's the reason why lawyers sometimes are the statutory agent. But it's a good point that that's one way of keeping some sort of record. And thank you for coming up and spending your time.

LORI LONGHI: Thank you.

REP. ROJAS: Thank you. Oh, don't go away too soon just in case there are other questions for you.

Okay, now you can go.

Ron Thomas followed by John Zarella.

RON THOMAS: Good afternoon, Representative Rojas, members of the P and D Committee. My name is Ron Thomas, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities. I'm pleased to be here today to talk with you about a few bills that concern towns and cities.

I'll start with 5580. CCM supports this bill. It regards the Pesticide Advisory Council, recommendations of the EMS task force, and the elimination of a municipal mandate. You've heard the municipal perspective from towns like Farmington and Naugatuck. We concur. I will just try to be succinct as possible.

Also 5584, we support this bill that came from the Moore Commission, in particular, the Moore regional entities back office functions group. We support that. We do see perhaps a small problem with parts of Section 1 with regard to which towns would fit into which council government. I know you'll clean that up.

And last but certainly not least is 5583 regarding the payment of real property taxes by certain institutions of higher learning and hospital facilities. CCM supports this bill, perhaps no surprise to you. We applaud the speaker for this innovative landmark legislation. We think that it's finally putting a great deal of focus on the burden of property tax and making it so that the onus is not on municipalities all the time to come up here to the capital for reimbursement.

As you all know, the reimbursement rate is 33 percent. We appreciate that the Governor has increased the pilot for colleges and hospitals by 8 million, but that still only brings the reimbursement level up to 35 percent, which is, you know, just not doing it. You heard towns like New London talk about it. So, I won't go into it further but to say that we support the proposal and look forward to you favorably reporting it.

Thank you.

REP. ROJAS: Thank you, Mr. Thomas.

Are there any questions for him?

We see you so often we can ask questions whenever we want, so --


REP. ROJAS: Seeing none, thank you.

RON THOMAS: Thank you.

REP. ROJAS: John Zarella followed by Fred Rosa.

JOHN ZARELLA: Good afternoon. My name is John Zarella. I'm a representative of the Association of Connecticut Ambulance Providers. We're here today to speak about Bill 5580, and particularly sections of it that we don't agree with.

Our association members provide ambulance medical transport for approximately 200,000 patients on an annual basis. We serve 45 towns in Connecticut. This is done with a network of 128 ambulances and a dedicated staff of over 900 highly trained first responders.

We speak in opposition of Section 8 of House Bill 5580, Recommendations of the Emergency Medical Services Primary Service Area Task Force. The Association of Connecticut Ambulance Providers opposes Section 8A and B of the proposed legislation. The Legislative appointed primary service area task force has made four solid recommendations for improvements in the statewide EMS system. The recommendations were consensus driven, constructive and enhanced the roles of the Department of Public Health, the municipalities and EMS providers.

Specifically, these recommendations provide objective modernizations that are all focused on response time accountability, quality patient care, municipal capabilities, regionalized resource identification and utilization.

Emergency medical service is the practice of medicine in the out-of-hospital environment by EMTs and paramedics. The authority by which this delivery of medical care is provided exists with the State Department of Public Health and is delegated through the comprehensive relationship between each primary service responder, an acute sponsor hospital with physician oversight, medical direction and control. Further, emergency medical services response systems as it has evolved spans across the destination of regions.

We know that many parts of what we do and respond to cover and are covered as regional -- we are regional providers. We believe there's plenty of tools in the box of the task force recommendations from 1 through 4. We don't believe that section 5 and Section A and B of 5580 are appropriate to continue.

Are there any questions regarding 5580 or our position?

REP. ROJAS: Thank you, Mr. Zarella.

Are there any questions? Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO: Why do you think the town should not have a right to weigh?

JOHN ZARELLA: They do, Sir. They do. I was a selectman for a number of years. I can tell you that up until this point there hasn't been any regulations in place. You know, the Department of Public Health has -- there have been complaints, but they haven't (inaudible) on their own terms enough teeth to do it. I take exception to hearing all the complaints -- all the problems there are for the past 30, 40 years. There haven't been. I've been doing this my whole adult life. People have been transported safely. Care has been delivered properly and appropriately.

In the recommendations from the EMS task force, 1 through 4 gives them every right, 5 gives them the ability to arbitrarily remove any PSAR without due cause, and that is not a good idea.

SENATOR FASANO: If we were to clear that up more --


SENATOR FASANO: -- or at least it was more objective, I agree. It should not be arbitrary because you can't run a business on arbitrariness.

JOHN ZARELLA: No, you cannot --

SENATOR FASANO: You can't make capital investments in arbitrariness.


SENATOR FASANO: You need some certainty. If we were to clean that up but still give a right for those towns who may have a problem -- I mean, I would argue with you that not everything is as smooth as it seems to be sometimes. But at least that a municipality needs to have some venue in which they could say, "You, State, may like them, let me tell you my problem locally." And the State would have to pay attention. If they had a guideline for which -- you know, you knew you were in compliance and they would know when you're not in compliance.

JOHN ZARELLA: Absolutely. But the Department of Public Health needs to play an active role.

SENATOR FASANO: That may be a best practices type of a thing that may be interesting concept that you just added to the equation.

JOHN ZARELLA: I agree. I agree with a lot of that, but I know that people have been transported safely and appropriately for a number of years.

SENATOR FASANO: Please, you know, when it comes to police, fire, ambulance --


SENATOR FASANO: -- we all rely upon you guys. You do a great job by and large, absolutely.

JOHN ZARELLA: I just take particular exception, listening for the past few days, about some of my friends and other service related businesses saying that there isn't, and that's not true. For the record, I'd like that to be recorded.

SENATOR FASANO: That's fine, and it is duly noted. And we appreciate your passion. And I just want to balance that against, you know, potential unknown issues that may erupt that a town should have some say more than what currently law has.

JOHN ZARELLA: Yes, sir. And they will --

SENATOR FASANO: And note that they cannot arbitrarily and it's left to politics, if you would, or other outside forces. That's not fair and that's not right to you guys. There has to be some balance. I don't know what it is right now, but --

JOHN ZARELLA: Well, there are some good tools in their recommendation, 1 through 4 awesome tools. It could take it -- if they use those tools, those problems will subside. I agree, there are places that need to be repaired.

SENATOR FASANO: I thank you. Thank you very much.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

JOHN ZARELLA: Thank you.

REP. ROJAS: Senator Osten.

SENATOR OSTEN: I was just wondering on your -- this is not a question about Section 5. It's a different question. Sorry. Seeing as you're here, I'm just wondering on your position with the ambulance services, do you get ambulance billing money? Is that how you fund your service?

JOHN ZARELLA: That's it, Ma'am. There are no -- the days of subsidies to EMS services are probably gone, most parts, especially Connecticut. The services are reliant on -- 70 percent of the recovery is Medicare and Medicaid.


JOHN ZARELLA: And as we know, that was reduced, especially on the Medicaid side, by 6 percent back in 2010. We're trying to get at least back to that percent. And as previous speakers discussed issues with hospitals, we're at the same mercy. We can't say, "No, we can't go." So, yes, our whole foundation for delivering services on the revenue side is on billing for service -- fee for service, yes, which is set by the Department of Public Health. It's sort of like the public utility. They're -- determine how much we can charge. It's not arbitrary.

SENATOR OSTEN: The Department of Public Health determines how much you can charge?

JOHN ZARELLA: Yes, Office of Emergency Medical Service. Each year, any service who transports, licensed or certified transport EMS service has to apply for that, that schedule. There's a fee schedule, and they -- it's determined at that point what it is you can charge for basic life support, advance life support, et cetera.

SENATOR OSTEN: And is that right online on the Department of Public Health?


SENATOR OSTEN: Or do they send it to you?

JOHN ZARELLA: It's public information, yes.

SENATOR OSTEN: And lastly, do you know if everybody who receives ambulance billing money, whether a volunteer firefighting service that provides EMS or a ambulance provider company, rolls that money back into purchasing their own ambulances?

JOHN ZARELLA: I could tell you on the commercial side it's all part of your operating costs. So, and there's also a small margin of any -- if there ever is such a thing as a profit --


JOHN ZARELLA: -- there's a small margin. There's not -- it isn't arbitrary. This is something that you could just try to make as much as you can. You can't. A and B, being a volunteer myself, I could tell you that most volunteer services for the -- maybe over the past 15, 20 years, all bill. There's maybe one out there, anomaly, that doesn't bill. So, they do bill for services. And as a selectman, I could tell you that it was our anticipation that that money would come back into the, you know, into our finance system and, you know, as things go, it doesn't always come that way.

SENATOR OSTEN: Selectman where?

JOHN ZARELLA: Selectman in the towns of Bethlehem and Morris.

SENATOR OSTEN: And you expected them to purchase the ambulance or you expected at least either to get money back in to reimburse the town for the costs of providing capital or supplies to the ambulance?

JOHN ZARELLA: Certainly it was one way to help them -- you know, set a goal to replace vehicles, maybe some training money, but it would help the town. A lot of the towns also have stipends for their volunteers.


JOHN ZARELLA: You know, incentive programs. So, it's sort of offset that cost, if you would.


JOHN ZARELLA: It's helpful.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you very much.

Are there any other questions?

Thanks. Appreciate it.

JOHN ZARELLA: Thank you. I appreciate your time.

REP. ROJAS: Fred Rosa.

FRED ROSA: Good afternoon, members of the Planning and Development Committee. I'm here today -- you have my written testimony which includes a petition from over a hundred volunteers servicing the EMS industry in northwest Connecticut, both fire and EMS.

We are strongly opposed to 5580 as it is now written. The PSA system, I've heard many times it's 40 years old, it's outdated. I agree changes need to be made. We're certainly not opposed to that. What we are opposed to is -- the reason why it was put into places was poor performance by certain providers and undue political influence. It was basically -- ambulance service was treated like a towing contract. They would change as the political leadership would change. People will say those days will never happen again. Unfortunately, we see it happening almost every day somewhere in this country.

We are in agreement with the recommendations of the Public Safety Task Force on 1 through 4, which equates to 4 through 7 in 5580. We are strongly opposed to Number 8 in 5580. We truly believe that the system will and has progressed since the days of the PSA. As far as regionalization is concerned, we have four regional paramedic intercept programs operating up in northwest Connecticut. That was brought about through the cooperations of the EMS services, a private provider, and the towns on how best to do it, but it was their decision, you know. It was their input, and it was their desire for their patients to provide that better patient care. And that's what we believe in.

We also notice that the Moore mandate subcommittee did not agree with Section 8 of the bill also. We would strongly ask you not to let this go forward as it -- as it now stands.

Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Any questions?

Thank you very much for coming. Appreciate it.

Art Greux followed by Lyle Wray.

ART GREUX: Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak. My name is Art Greux. I'm the Chief of Service for Suffield Volunteer Ambulance and the Vice-president of the Connecticut EMS Chiefs Association.

I'm here to speak to you again about 5580 and our support for recommendations 1 through 4 of the PSAR task force. We do not currently support recommendation 5 as it's implemented in this bill, and for a couple of reasons.

First of all, you've heard a lot of conversation about ambulance service. The way it's written it not just encompasses ambulance service, but starts at the first responder level. PSAs currently in the state of Connecticut are not always designated by municipal boundary. When this goes into effect, PSAs will automatically be considered based on municipal boundary, not based on service area -- in other words, populations, need for service, hospital destinations, and call volume loads. So, it's an instantaneous change in the way that PSAs are looked at. We feel that more study needs to be done as to how that's going to impact that.

There's a question about subjective and objective standards as to how a provider is going to be measured. We believe that every municipality should have an input into the process. Those standards that everyone is being measured from need to be up front and need to be spelled out ahead of time. If that's, if that's done and there is a study as to how that implementation is going to work and how it's going to impact the regional providers versus the municipal providers and how we're going to phase that in then it could be a great change.

I think 1 through 4 addressed a lot of the concerns that came up last year, you know. We've been using EMS plans that have been outdated, haven't been updated by many municipalities. Some municipalities don't have them. That the recommendations in 1 through 4 make those plans mandatory, put measures that services can be measured towards as to whether they're meeting the requirements of their municipality. What happens when they don't meet those standards? And those are the important things, and that's where the municipality has the ability to spell out the standards. But there's no explanation as to how those standards are going to be implemented under recommendation 5, and that's a concern for us.

I submitted written testimony. I'm not going to paraphrase all of that. I know everybody wants to get back to their brackets for March madness, so, I'll end there.

SENATOR OSTEN: Is that that round brown ball? I don't know, I'm not really good with sporting analysis. Just saying.

ART GREUX: Yep, round ball is we're in support of 1 through 4 of the PSAR task force recommendation. We're not in support of implementation of 5 at this point until those standards are firm, and that there's how that implementation is going to affect regional providers.


Are there any questions? No?

We get where you are. Thank you very much. You have a nice day.

ART GREUX: You, too.


LYLE WRAY: Chairs, members of the Committee, my name is Lyle Wray. I serve as Executive Director of the Capital Region Council of Governments.

SENATOR OSTEN: How are you?

LYLE WRAY: Good, thank you.

We are 30 towns, soon to be 38, going from 700,000 to a million people as of July 1st of this year, so, we're going to be busy. I'm here to support 5584. You have my written testimony, so, I'll just highlight a few items. I know your Calendar is very compressed.

We've been working on -- with the Moore Commission on the back office efficiencies issue for a long time, and we've just done a study on how to be more efficient in back office. So, we're here to strongly support that.

Let me just highlight a couple things, if I might, to the Committee. We suggest that in Section 1, as Ron Thomas mentioned, just to revise some of the towns' per Capital Region Council of Governments, and we have provided that in the written testimony.

The second one is a specific issue on regional planning commissions on Section 9. And we suggest that the sentence that ends on line 352 should include language that states an exception for advisory comments on zoning amendments and subdivision issues which may be issued by regional planning commissions prior to Regional Councils of Governments' endorsements. And this is really a sequencing issue of advisory comments. It really doesn't substantially change things, but I think it realistically identifies how we -- potentially works.

The other pieces we're asking you to consider, the qualifications of members should be, not only local planning organization commissions, rather, but also members of local Planning and Zoning commissions. So, on line 356. So, those are kind of minor, but they're important to us on the regular review we have of plans.

In terms of Section 10, we suggest that the items number 6 and 7 have been transposed in terms of budget figures. We were involved in the concepts and worked with the Moore Commission on these, so, we -- basically the $750,000 and the $405,750 for Human Services and documentation ought to be flipped.

But just to conclude for the Committee, I believe that there's some really potentially, really serious positive progress that could be made on back office consolidation and services in the state with this bill, and we strongly support it and look forward to having this open to all towns in the state. Everyone could participate and we look forward to moving forward on this because, frankly, any money we spend on back office is not spent on direct service to people. So, it's really overhead or people.

So, we're very strongly supportive of this and I'd be happy to answer any questions, Madam Chair, Mr. Chair.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thanks for coming today.

Any comments or questions? No?

Thank you very much.

LYLE WRAY: Thank you, Madam Chair.

SENATOR OSTEN: Mary Ellen Harper, but I think she already spoke. Did she?







MARY ELLEN HARPER: (Inaudible). Usually I'm loud enough. Sorry about that.

I am the Director of Fire and Rescue Services for the Town of Farmington which, for your information, is a combination fire Department, predominantly staffed by volunteers. We have 175 volunteer firefighters and eight full-time firefighters. I also had the opportunity to serve as Co-Chair of this task force that wrote the legislation that you see in H.B. 5580.

I've already submitted written testimony. I'm not going to read through that. I just want to leave you with a couple points.

The first one is I came into this knowing that consensus was important, and let me tell you, I tried so hard to get consensus. Some of my task force members are here. We had meetings that went seven and eight hours. We were banging our head against the wall. We tried, and we came so close. We got it on four of the five issues. And on that fifth issue, we came really close on that, too, but we just couldn't get something we would all agree on. And the reason for that is that there's people coming to the table with different interests. Some people are looking to make profits and sustain a business out of it. Some are municipalities that don't have those same interests, and you're never going to get those players to all agree on the same issues.

I just kind of want to summarize a PSA, the Primary Service Area assignment. I look at it almost as a forced arranged marriage that was with required by the state of Connecticut, and in my case the state of Connecticut married me to my designated provider many, many years ago. And that provider has the right to walk away from that relationship at any time. If they choose it's no longer good for them, they can walk away. I don't have that right as the municipality. And if I find that ironic because at the municipal level I'm the one that's serving the needs of my residents before an emergency and again after the emergency, and the buck always stops at the local level yet I'm the one that doesn't have the flexibility to make change to better serve my community.

I think, you know, 40 years ago, in our case when we gave away our PSA, we never thought it would be forever. It just -- nobody told us we could never get it back. And in our case, you heard my Town Manager. It's not that there's an emergency. It's that we think we can do a better job in a different way, and we want the opportunity to raise the bar and maybe just offer a better level of service to our community.

I just want to leave you with the idea that back in 1999 there was a similar task force that was commissioned to look at some of the same issues. And I wish I had read that report before this task force because I probably could have saved six months of my life that I will never get back. They identified similar issues and they came forward with similar recommendations, and those were not acted upon. And we've let those age for 15 years and I really don't want to be back here in 15 years asking us to do it again. So, I think we've aged the issue enough. We've given it some chances.

The problems still there, the solutions are still there. I'm just asking for a right to have our specific issues heard by a regulatory body. I'm not looking for an answer or an arbitrary decision. Recommendation 5 just lets the municipality have its day in court and let somebody of a higher authority say, Does your plan make sense and will it help your community? And that's all we're asking for with Number 5.

Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you. Very good, three minutes.

Anybody have any comments or questions for the non-talkative young lady?

MARY ELLEN HARPER: Thank you so much.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you very much, Mary Ellen.

Donald Christmas followed by Catherine Rees.

Good afternoon.


Thank you for listening today. I've never done this before, so, I hope you guys can bear mine with me.

The reason I'm supportive of 5541 and not in support of the three percent increase because we have five districts in our town and each one of us have a fire Department. Our Fire Department in Thompsonville, which is the poorest part of the town, pays 6.5 -- 6.45 mills and the rest of the town enjoys a 1.2 to 2-point mill rate. Because we are -- because of our 6.5 -- 45 mill rate, we have a full-time fire department, which the rest of the town gets to use for free because they're first responders. The other town -- the other parts of town are volunteer. So, our fire department is dispatched throughout the rest of the town and we have to pay for it. They get -- they really get a free service.

We lost our vote and it came a consequence as we have a Fire Chief now as a GC of our Fire Department that's going up. We have a district -- our Chairman is -- (inaudible) business and life support, that is in charge of our budget and in part -- in charge of our new firehouse. And, by the way, just so you know, the Chairman and the Fire Chief are brothers.

I think that we should have a right to vote because that three percent -- what would happen is if they were allowed to get the three percent every year, I think the other parts of town would become more reliable on us. So, the other parts of town get to vote. They'll all say, "No, we don't want an increase." But the town of -- then Thompsonville would get an increase and they would rely on us more and more for more and more of our services.

It is very critical that we do have a vote -- a vote on our, on our budget so we can keep them in mind and keep them where they're at, considering we are the poorest part of town and we do provide this service for the whole town. Forty percent of our town -- of our district doesn't pay taxes because it's owned by the town or is tax exempt. It's very critical that we do have oversight on what's happening and what's going on, and that's my testimony.

I'd like to yield the rest of my time to Roger Ashbaum, if I can.


ROGER ASHBAUM: If I may. I just have a --

SENATOR OSTEN: Quickly, hurry up. Let's go. Chop-chop. We're trying to move along here.

ROGER ASHBAUM: Okay. Representative Fasano asked me how will we deal with something that goes wrong, and I alluded to my problems that I was not informed about things and meetings that occurred that I wasn't part of. I have to make a comment on Chief Alaimo's statement today that this support of the, of the union, the firefighters union and the Chiefs Association of this bill with the trigger is directly related because he is the lead negotiator for the district with the union and that this issue was made part of that negotiation session and, in fact, as he stated, was responsible for many of the concessions they made.

Well, I'm here to tell you that was never discussed or brought to the board. And if it was, you can bet it would not have been authorized to make that discussion -- enter into that discussion or make any decisions about agreements of the bargaining process had it been.

That's all I have to say.


Next is Catherine Rees followed by Elliott Ginsberg.

CATHERINE REES: Good afternoon.

Members of the Planning and Development Committee, thank you for the opportunity to present testimony concerning H.B. 5583.

My name is Catherine Rees. I'm the Manager of Community Benefit of Middlesex hospital, and I oppose this bill. The real property tax exemption for hospitals was put into place in recognition of the critical roles they play in their communities. Middlesex Hospital provides vital lifesaving healthcare services within its walls and also improves the lives of those throughout its community.

It's my job to identify health needs and develop programs and services to meet those needs, ultimately improving public health and the vibrancy of individual's lives in our community.

Today you have heard many of my healthcare colleagues talk about community benefits. In my testimony today, I'd like to give an example of estimated community benefit program that's very important to Middlesex Hospital. This will also give an example of how for-profit hospitals are differentiated from not-for-profit hospitals.

I'd like to share this story of Michael, whose name has been changed to protect his privacy. Michael came to Middlesex Hospital two years ago in an acute state of alcoholism. He was living on the street, on the verge of divorce, estranged from his family, was unemployed and had a criminal record. The severity of Michael's alcohol use and associated medical concerns caused high Emergency Department utilization.

Around this time Middlesex Hospital had recently launched a pilot community benefit program in its ED called the Community Care Team. This focused on helping those experience severe alcohol and/or other drug addiction and serious mental illness which cause frequent visits to the ED. Patients in our target population encountered complex social issues that, when unmet, resulted in their falling through the cracks of the healthcare delivery system.

For Michael, the team developed a plan for detox followed by a long-term rehab program, and an after care plan once he returned to community living. As Michael's homelessness was identified as a contributing factor for destabilization relapse, the primary focus is placed on housing. After he left his long-term rehab, he struggled. Relapse followed, as did feelings of shame, guilt, and remorse. The Community Care Team reassessed Michael's plan and asked, What were we missing?

Isolation was discovered as a trigger. So, Michael was offered a volunteer job washing dishes at the local soup kitchen and was linked to supportive housing services through Saint Vincent de Paul, Middletown.

I'm happy to tell you that Michael has been sober for four months and that his job has increased -- he was able to obtain a job and his job has increased from two shifts per week to six shifts per week. Michael told himself that when he got a job he would get a dog. Last week he became the proud owner of a two-year-old -- of two-year-old Missy who greets him with unconditional love when he returns home.

This is how Michael has described his journey. He said, "I was living on the street, I was unemployed, I had a suitcase, I really didn't have too much hope for anything. The help that I was given and the resources that were made available to me changed my whole outlook on life. If I didn't have this help, I'd be on the streets, drinking, maybe dead by now. I can't say enough about the help I got. I feel good about myself. There were people that believed in me when I didn't believe in myself and I owe my life to them. I can't put into words how hopeless I felt. My whole life has turned around."

Middlesex Hospital's most recent benefit to the community was $39 million. The hospital's commitment to keeping the benefit allows us to provide subsidized low-margin and free of charge programs and services to our community members. This differentiates us from for-profit hospitals.

I ask you not to change their current structure to the real property tax exemption as that would put yet another financial strain on hospitals and negatively impact our ability to offer critical -- critically important low or no-margin programs to our community's most at-risk and vulnerable populations.

Michael's story is just one of so many in Middlesex and across the state that can be told here thanks to the vital roles that hospitals play in our communities. Hospitals exemplify why tax exemption was developed and I urge you to keep that in place.

Thank you so much, and have a nice day.

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any questions?

Thank you very much for coming. Appreciate it.


SENATOR OSTEN: Elliot Ginsberg followed by Elizabeth Gara.

ELLIOT GINSBERG: Senator Osten, Representative Rojas, members of the Committee, my name is Elliot Ginsberg. I am President of the Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology in East Hartford. I am appearing today in support of Raised Bill 5584, specifically its provisions to extend assistance to Connecticut's Regional Councils of Governments through the Development of Pilot Programs to Demonstrate Information Technology Applications Using the Broadband -- Connecticut's Broadband Nutmeg Network.

CCAT is excited about our opportunity to partner with the CRCOG, to provide opportunity to increase the efficiencies of municipal day-to-day operations and generate cost savings for municipalities statewide through the regionalization and utilization of the Nutmeg Network. For Connecticut municipalities to be efficient and effective today, they must move beyond an operating system based on paper flow and files to a digital environment, provide not only speed and efficiency but also critical disaster recovery and security.

Today we communicate and operate in a digital world and the citizens of our municipalities expect us to provide extensive online access. It's time to incorporate advanced information technology systems and applications into town management. Our towns and cities need to individually and collectively incorporate IT-based communication and management systems into their operations. If they do not, they will be left behind, severely hampered in their ability to perform mounting day-to-day work, let alone function during a crisis situation.

CCAT has been at the forefront of this transitional effort, providing IT services such as vital desk tops, virtual desk tops, infrastructure as a service, data backup and disaster recovery to schools, cities, towns, libraries, laying the network for the past five years. Originally established for connecting schools and libraries, the broadband fiber-optic network has proven to be a reliable, effective means delivering these services and high-speed Internet access. This bill supports a logical and in today's world essential expansion of its use to deliver government services to towns, cities, and at the State level.

Under the project as defined in the legislation, CCAT will partner to address developing a regional and data disaster recovery center, developing pilot programs that include storing equipment at regional data centers, electronic document management systems, voice over Internet protocol for websites and video conferencing, customize host software solutions and virtual environments for data storage and custom software to coordinate Board of Education and municipal payrolls, and online portal for municipal human resources services.

CCAT applauds the intent of the legislation to further strengthen Connecticut's municipalities. The bill, through its support by the Committee, will enable our cities and towns to effectively leverage IT technology, to improve delivery services to the residents they serve.

As a nonprofit organization, we understand the importance of fiscal responsibility and the need for cost containment. We live by it every day. We believe that our extensive experience working with municipalities, schools, and libraries, our depth of IT experience and our recent recognition as the preferred provider by CRCOG make us well prepared to team with CRCOG in this effort. We recognize that the large scope will bring together private IT and application development companies to ensure timely completion and implementation of all the aspects.

In summary, Raised Bill 5484 provides the opportunity to build on the success of Connecticut's significant investment in the Nutmeg Network. Presently, approximately 97 of the towns -- state's 169 towns and municipalities are currently connected or are in the process of connecting to the network. This is the time to help municipalities transition to a fiber-optic network and leverage the valuable resource of the state. Connecticut -- CCAT believes the provisions detailed in Section 10 will strengthen our cities and towns, further economic development, and position Connecticut as a leader nationwide.

Thank you, and I'll take any questions.

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any questions?

Thank you very much.


SENATOR OSTEN: Next up is Elizabeth Gara followed by David Lenihan.

ELIZABETH GARA: Thank you. My name is Elizabeth Gara. I am the Executive Director of the Connecticut Council of Small Towns, and we have submitted written testimony on several bills. I just want to focus my comments in support of House Bill 58 -- 5583, the reverse pilot program.

I think the reasons that we support this are obvious. Towns are in a very difficult place right now budget wise. State aid to municipalities has been flat funded for a number of years and the cost of providing education and public safety continues to go up and up. And, so, every dollar increased in our budget translates into an increase in property taxes. Our residents, our businesses are fed up with that, so, this is welcome relief.

In reviewing the bill, we did have a lot of discussion about the fact that we value our colleges and hospitals in our communities. We do recognize that there are community benefits and, so, we are very pleased to see that the bill provides a mechanism to reimburse colleges and hospitals for the revenues that they are going to be paying to the towns.

We are also pleased that the bill continues to provide Pequot and Mohegan funding to other municipalities that rely on that funding. The only thing we would suggest is that we also need to begin to look at the State property pilot and somehow increase the reimbursements to towns for that because they do shoulder the burden of providing services in those -- to those properties and they -- it's just very difficult for towns that have a significant amount of pilot -- of State property pilot.

Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thanks, Betsy.

Are there any questions?

Seeing none, thanks so much.

David Lenihan followed by Kelly Soukup.

DAVID LENIHAN: Good afternoon, Senator Osten, Representative Rojas, Senator Fasano, Representative Aman and members of the Planning and Development Committee. My name is David Lenihan and I am with the Connecticut Association of School Business Officials and here of support of House Bill 5580 with respect to the Pesticide Advisory Council.

As a little bit of background, CASBO is a nonprofit professional association that represents school business officials throughout the state of Connecticut. School business officials are responsible for many aspects of school business and operations. This includes, but not limited to, development and monitoring of budgets as well as overseeing school maintenance and operations, including field preparation and care.

To this end, CASBO has always made the safety of children its highest priority. We realize, however, that we do not live in a risk-free world and it is virtually impossible to shield children from all risk. Our goals have always been to identify risks associated with school safety and develop comprehensive and balanced programs that will manage and mitigate such risk in a safe, reliable, and cost-effective manner. CASBO believes that House Bill 5580 provides a balanced approach to accomplish this important objective and we urge the Committee to pass it.

Since July 2010, there has been a ban on the use of EPA-registered pesticides on public school grounds K to 8. Since the ban has been in place, many fields have been damaged severely and some have actually been rendered unplayable. Despite the great efforts of ground staff to maintain these fields using more expensive organic materials and/or labor intensive manual procedures, simply stated, these materials and procedures are not effective in addressing the pest problems on school grounds. As a result, this has resulted in other unintended consequences. These include, but not limited to, invasive plants, poison ivy, ticks, tree disease, and playing surfaces that are very hard and uneven. All of these other issues present serious health and safety hazards to our students.

We understand that there are several bills before the Legislature to expand this ban, and there is a great deal of debate surrounding the pros and cons for the judicious use of pesticides on school grounds. CASBO, similar to many other organizations that you've heard today, strongly supports the Pesticide Advisory Council to review and that all facts concerning the safety and effective use of both synthetic and organic pesticides and to work with the Commissioner of DEEP to create a set of best practices and appropriate regulations. We also understand that the Moore mandates working group recently recommended this common sense approach.

In summary, CASBO as well as many other organizations believes that a comprehensive, balanced, science-based approach that safely controls pests and addresses all safety issues is a far better way to ensure the safety of our children. House Bill 5580 accomplishes this balanced approach.

Thank you, and I'd be happy to answer any questions.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you very much.

Are there any questions?

Seeing none, thanks so much.


SENATOR OSTEN: Kelly -- I'm not going to try to say your last name again. Sorry. I don't think I got it right, so.

KELLY SOUKUP: You did all right.

SENATOR OSTEN: Jeremy Rodorigo will be next.

KELLY SOUKUP: Thank you. My name is Kelly Soukup and I am the Revenue Enhancement Specialist at Johnson Memorial Hospital in Stafford Springs, and I am here to oppose 5583.

Connecticut, like the rest of the nation, enacted the property tax exemption for hospitals in recognition of their critically important role in the community. We understand that towns need to fulfill their financial obligations with respect to budget. However, hospitals already make a significant contribution to the community in many economic ways. Instituting a property tax to already financially fragile hospitals would seriously impact their ability to provide safe, quality healthcare.

In particular, Johnson Memorial supports its local communities by providing free health screening, health education programs, support groups and free care to the uninsured. This has totaled approximately $400,000 over the past three years. Hospitals treat everyone who comes through their doors 24 hours a day, regardless of ability to pay. In 2012, Connecticut hospitals provided nearly 225 million in free services for those who could not afford to pay. This in particular, coupled with potential reimbursement changes, will seriously impact not only Johnson Memorial Hospital, but all Connecticut hospitals.

In addition to our care giving role, Johnson Memorial Hospital is an important part of the local economy and the area's economic development strategies. Johnson Memorial Hospital employs 1100 individuals with a payroll of over $33 million. Hospital payroll expenditures serve as an important economic stimulus, creating and supporting jobs throughout the local and state economies.

Many members of our respected communities entrust us with their personal healthcare as well as that of their family members and expect the best possible care for their individual needs. In addition, many of these individuals are Connecticut taxpayers and are already concerned with high deductibles and increased premium costs. A tax of this nature will increase the cost of healthcare, resulting in less people seeking or being able to afford the healthcare they need.

Johnson Memorial Hospital has always been committed to improving patient care and ensuring that every person receives safe, excellent care. Generations of families have come to rely on Johnson Memorial Hospital to care for them in sickness and in health over the past 100 years.

As a lifetime resident of Stafford Springs and a long-time employee of Johnson Memorial Hospital, I am very concerned about the impact this tax will have on Johnson's continued ability to provide high-quality healthcare in my community. In addition, as one of the largest employers in Stafford Springs, and given Johnson's financial history as a distressed hospital, the implementation of this tax could be detrimental to Johnson's viability. Johnson cannot endure another tax. We are asking that you reject this bill and keep the current exemption in place.

Thank you for your consideration.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you for coming.

Are there any questions?

Thank you very much, Kelly.

KELLY SOUKUP: Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Jeremy Rodorigo followed by Ulysses Hammond.

JEREMY RODORIGO: Hi, good afternoon. My name is Jeremy Rodorigo. I represent American Medical Response of Connecticut. We are a regional ambulance provider here in Connecticut. I come here today to speak against Raised Bill 5580, specifically Section 8, the portion of the bill that discusses recommendations of the State Emergency Medical Services Primary Service Area Task Force.

The task force was comprised of experts from a variety of public safety and municipal arenas. The task force unanimously agreed on four very significant recommendations that strengthened the current statewide EMS system. There was a fifth recommendation that was offered by the task force and was not agreed upon and became contentious. In fact, the vote was split by the various members of the committee.

The primary reason that Recommendation Number 5 was contentious was because the implementation of the first four very good recommendations would in all likelihood make Number 5 unnecessary. Additionally, Recommendation Number 5 is subjective and creates a real uncertainty for the current Primary Service Area Responders here in Connecticut -- providers that have invested so much in infrastructure, equipment, and personnel.

Language similar to Recommendation Number 5 has been placed in this bill. Although the language is a little different, the intent is the same. It is still subjective. It still creates uncertainty to the designated PSA responders.

Some of the testimony you've heard previously mentioned a recently very popular theme, regionalization. Most commercial ambulance providers are regional and have been since the term became so popular. In fact, ambulance providers of all kinds have been working collaboratively and regionally for many years. I ask that you consider the effects of passing the PSAR language in this bill would have on the statewide EMS system of delivery and remove it from this bill.

I thank you for your consideration. Have a good weekend.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you very much.

Any questions or comments?

Thank you.

JEREMY RODORIGO: You're welcome.

SENATOR OSTEN: Appreciate you staying.

Ulysses Hammond followed by Eric Johnson.

Is Ulysses Hammond here? No?

Eric Johnson, is Eric Johnson here? Mr. Johnson, please come.

ERIC JOHNSON: Good afternoon.

SENATOR OSTEN: Good afternoon.

ERIC JOHNSON: My name is Eric Johnson. I'm the Executive Director for the Livable City Initiative from the City of New Haven. I'm here to testify in support of S.B. 436, to authorize municipalities to provide tax abatements for housing development in which at least 20 percent of the dwelling units are designated for low to moderate income persons.

Senator Osten and Representative Rojas, members of the Planning-Development Committee, thank you for giving me this opportunity to testify on S.B. 436. The City of New Haven strongly supports the proposed amendments to Section 8, 215. The City of New Haven believes that the proposed amendment is not only consistent with the current national policy efforts surrounding affordable housing. The changes will facilitate the creation of new mixed-income housing developments in New Haven and other communities throughout the State. Section 8 215 as written does not support tax abatements for mixed-income development. It requires any residential development applying either for a state pilot or for a local tax abatement to be 100 percent affordable.

It is the city's past experience that these -- these developments often require large amount of public subsidy with little private investment are often not viable long term, consecrate or segregate low-income persons to certain neighborhoods and communities, and compromises towns' ability to develop workforce and market rate housing. The City of New Haven believes in amending the State tax abatement legislation. It is consistent with efforts by DOH, SHAF, and other State agencies for building new affordable mixed-income communities, aligns with national policy objectives, facilitates increased residential development in Connecticut cities and smaller towns that have not traditionally been interested in development of workforce and affordable units, and reduces the amount of public funding required to create new affordable and workforce units throughout the State.

The City of New Haven support of S.B. 436 should not be construed as a change in the City's commitment to provide affordable housing to its residents. However, it should be seen as an opportunity to provide a diverse set of housing opportunities for individuals who want to live, remain, or move to the City of New Haven.

Thank you. That's my testimony.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you very much for coming today. We really appreciate it.

Any questions or comments?

Seeing none, thank you for staying.

Tom Ronalter. See, I'm getting better at this each time.

TOM RONALTER: It's good for late in the day.

Thank you, Senator, and members of the Committee. My name is Tom Ronalter. I'm the Fire Chief for the City of New Britain and I recently served with Mary Ellen and others here on the EMS-PSA task force. Please accept my support of H.B. 5580.

H.B. 50 -- H.B. 5580 includes all five recommendations of the EMS-PSA task force. All of these recommendations will improve EMS delivery in Connecticut. However, it is particularly Number 5, the alternative provision of PSA responsibilities, which would allow municipalities to make a change in their EMS provider. This may be to improve patient care, more efficiently allocate resources, allow regionalization, or align with a new EMS provider better suited to meet its needs.

Most importantly, Number 5 is the alternative provision of these responsibilities. The recommendation states that municipalities shall have the right to submit a local EMS plan for consideration to DPH, the alternative provision of PSA responder responsibilities. Recommendation 5 does not require this change. Rather, it simply allows a municipality to determine its own destiny by requesting a reasonable provider change.

Let me return to one of the items above, the R word, regionalization. I know the Moore Commission is continuing its good work on this issue. The reality is our current model of delivering municipal public services is not sustainable. While some view this as heresy, it really is the only path forward. Regionalized services will improve the quality of services and decrease costs. While this may not happen tomorrow, we must begin to set the stage to allow this possibility to occur. The first step is to remove obvious obstacles. The PSA issue is an obstacle to regionalization. Municipalities will drive regionalization through their effort to control escalating costs. They cannot regionalize what they do not control. Please give them that power to do so. Right now they have the responsibility for public safety without the commensurate authority. H.B. 5580 will give them that ability.

Lastly, municipalities must provide public safety services for their citizens. However, in the case of EMS services, local government has no direct control over the provision of their EMS provider. Primary Service Area Responders have enjoyed almost four decades of having exclusive rights to the PSAs within Connecticut. No other municipal services are granted this entitlement. It is time for a rational and reasonable change.

In closing, I ask your support of H.B. 5580 and thank you for your opportunity to speak today.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you very much. Appreciate it.

Are there any questions? No?

Thank you very much.

TOM RONALTER: Thank you very much.

SENATOR OSTEN: And thanks for staying as long as you did.

Terri Eickel. Terri Eickel? No? Is he here?

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

SENATOR OSTEN: Okay. Matthew Stuart?

MATT STUART: Madam Chairman, members of the Committee, my name is Matt Stuart. Up until recently I was a Battalion Chief with the West Hartford Fire Department. I started my career in 1979 in western Massachusetts as a paid on-call firefighter and a member of an EMS service. I also spent quite a bit of my time working for private ambulance services that provided the primary EMS service for municipalities in western Massachusetts.

I'm here to support House Bill 5580, especially Section 5. One thing that is kind of lost on me is I live in the little section called Unionville which is a part of Farmington. And if they were to go out to bid for trash service, they would have a number of places that they could get bids from. However, if they wanted to go out and find another EMS provider or at least put it outside the realm that we have now, they're not allowed to do that. To me, that strikes as an unfair trade practice, restricting the people that I have elected to represent me, having an inability to go out and find or at least enhance the service that they're already receiving.

When I was in western Massachusetts, the municipalities controlled who did their EMS service for their municipalities. It didn't mean that other services couldn't operate within those communities. It just meant primarily for the 911 call, they controlled who provided those services. That was the way it was always done. It was done under contract, contracts which were bid out with different EMS services or maybe even run by the municipality themselves. It was not much of an issue with quality of service because at the end of that contract, if the quality of service was poor, the company would be let go and another company would pick up those services.

From what I've heard from the testimony from other people today, the issues around here are not necessarily much different from that in Massachusetts, and that's been that way since 1979.

I'd just like to support House Bill 5580, especially Section 5. And based on my experience, I would urge that you support that also.


Are there any questions?

Thank you so much.

Jeff, is Terri Eickel back yet? No?

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

SENATOR OSTEN: Okay. Jeffrey Cross?

JEFFREY CROSS: Hello. Thank you for the opportunity to speak in front of the Planning and Development Committee. My name is Jeff Cross. I am President of the CTTFD, the Concerned Taxpayers of the Thompsonville Fire District. Next to me is the attorney for the CTTFD who will be able to answer any legal questions regarding the lawsuit.

Prior to this past May, the taxpayers of the Fire District for 35 years, if not longer, had been voting on the budget. This past May, the Board of Commissioners of the TFD, in my opinion, stole our vote and took the vote from the taxpayers on the budget from the hands of the taxpayers to the hands of the Board of Commissioners.

Soon after that, based on the outrage of the taxpayers, the CTTFD was formed. We sought legal advice and engaged the services of Ryan McKeen. Through -- the CTTFD filed suit to enjoin the budget on July 3rd, 2013, to stop the budget from being enforced and to get our vote back. Fund-raising by the CTTFD was in nickels and dimes and quarters, dollars throughout the Tax District. The majority of the funds came from very small contributions from many people, and many of these people that I discussed, their stories were heart breaking, and supported our efforts wholly.

Despite the words written in the 2009 amendment of the Special Act that passed through this very Committee when Representative Sharkey, now Speaker of the House chaired it, those words, "The electors may vote on any matter at an annual or special meeting of the district." Those are the words of the Special District or the Special Act. Judge Peck ruled against us and after a lot of thought, the CTT decided to appeal.

The lawsuit is on appeal. Then we decided to pursue the legislative branch. We contacted the CTT through the auspices of Attorney Ryan, contacted Dave Alexander, and we are here today. We met with Representative Rojas over here today.

So, I just want to say one thing about the taxpayers of the Thompsonville Fire District. We are responsible stewards of the funds of the Tax District. I would challenge you to ask the union when in the 35 years, that generation that we've been voting on this, that they've been harmed. In the two times that the budget was voted down, it had nothing to do with the firefighters. It had to do with capital improvements in which the taxpayers felt were exorbitant and not needed to the degree in which they were to be funded.

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

JEFFREY CROSS: Okay. The issue has never been with the firefighters. The taxpayers are ready and willing and able to support the firefighters. And I am pleading with you, I'm asking you, I'm insisting that you restore our vote.

Thank you.


JEFFREY CROSS: Any questions?

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any questions?

A VOICE: I'm --

SENATOR OSTEN: You've got to address it -- you have to at least give me your name.

RYAN McKEEN: Senator Osten, my name is Ryan McKeen. I represent the Thompsonville Fire District and I'm just here -- I submitted written testimony. I'm just here to answer any questions that you may have regarding the appeal that has been filed in this matter, any questions the Committee may have.

SENATOR OSTEN: I don't think that any of us have a question on the appeal. I think that the appeal is within the purview of the group. I think our questions are mostly pending on the legislation itself. I haven't heard anybody ask me here today on the appeal process, and I don't think we would want to weigh in to a court action that is going on. That's just my sense, unless anybody has any questions.

No? I think maybe, you know, it's Friday and it's later in the day. So, it makes it a lot harder to ask questions, let's just say.

JEFFREY CROSS: Tell us about it. We've been here all day --

SENATOR OSTEN: If we have any questions, I'm certain that we will be able to reach out to you at your number on your, on your testimony, too. I'm certain that we can get it from you.

RYAN McKEEN: Yes, Senator. Thank you very much.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you very much. I really appreciate it.

Vincent Susco.


SENATOR OSTEN: Is Vincent Susco here? Going once, going twice, not here.

Is Terri Eickel here? Going once, going twice, going several times. No?

Vincent Landisio?

A VOICE: He's not here.

SENATOR OSTEN: He's not here. And Steve Cogtella.

How many of you are -- I have Steve Cogtella, Erline Provencher and Karen Laplante. Do you all want to come up here at the same time? Do you all have stuff to say, or do you want to just submit -- live on your written testimony?

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

A VOICE: I'd like to speak.

SENATOR OSTEN: Come on up. Come on up. All of you can come up. One, come on up, all three of you come on up. You can sit all right there. There's two more microphones right there. We'll get as many --

A VOICE: Do we get triple the time now since the other --

SENATOR OSTEN: I don't know about all that now.

You're up.

STEVE COGTELLA: Madam Chair and Committee members, I'm in favor of House Bill 5541, the act concerning the Thompsonville Fire District as amended by Representative Alexander today.

My name is Steve Cogtella. I'm a retired resident of the Thompsonville Fire District. I was and still am a union member for over 30 years with ATU local 448 in Springfield, Mass. Fifteen of those years I served in the capacity of Vice President and/or Executive Board member. I've participated in the negotiation of at least six contracts, did scores of grievances and mediations, and been involved in numerous arbitrations, one of them being my own.

I believe in unions and strong aggressive leadership to bring the brothers and sisters of those unions to the levels they deserve. Strong leadership is how that happens along with the support from the rank and file, and that has happened with the Thompsonville firefighters. It also required the continued support and funding by the District taxpayers for at least 35 years of voting on the budget.

We have recognized and appreciated the dedicated service of the firefighters which is evident from the wages, benefits, safety and security afforded in their collective bargaining agreement. I believe strong union leadership has the obligation to strive for continued improvement through every possible avenue, much like we have here he today. However, strong leadership also has to be aware of how the pursuit of these other avenues affect others.

I recently asked one of the union leaders why the union and advocacy groups in concert with them are pursuing this three percent. I was told that it would be a dereliction of duty if he and the others didn't pursue this. I strongly disagree. It's a dereliction of duty when the union and others fail to see the big picture. Savvy union leaders need to be cognizant of any actions they undertake, and the consequences of those actions on others. This is especially true in this case, where this self-serving three percent benefit so few and negatively impacts so many -- not exactly union philosophy.

A Thompsonville union fire fighter has everything and more one could strive for in this economy. Good wages and benefits, job security and safety, that is realistically possible to achieve through a collective bargaining. Now to take more than they need using the legislative process is unconscionable. The added burden this will create on the district taxpayers that have proven their support now lose their security and safety, especially the 19 percent whose homes are owner occupied, many on fixed incomes. We just can't afford it any more. We're not living comfortably, we are living adequately.

There comes a point in time, like we have before us today, where savvy union leadership and those supporting them need to take a step backwards. It is this type of unjustified conduct that destroys the community and working relationship with a union. The taxpayers of the district have proven themselves for over 35 years of having the ability to be the final check and balance of the budget, and rightfully should be. It's our money. I ask you today to support a revision of this bill that reinstates our vote unconditionally as Representative Alexander modified it this morning.

Thank you.


Just push that red button and go right into it.

KAREN LAPLANTE: Okay. Good afternoon, Legislators. Thank you for the opportunity.

My name is Karen Laplante. I reside at 166 North Maple Street in Enfield, and I am a taxpayer in the Thompsonville Fire District and also a second district in Enfield, the Shaker Pines Fire District where I live. I am here today as a concerned taxpayer regarding Raised Bill 5541, An Act Concerning the Thompsonville Fire District. I do not support the bill as originally presented and would request revisions made prior to the passage.

Our current three-member board of Fire Commissioners is barely functioning. We have one Commissioner that resigned and has tried to reinsert him back in as a Commissioner, and two other commissioners that have had various health issues leading to meeting cancellations, delayed votes, and general turmoil. I support the section of the legislation that allows for two additional commissioners, but would like to see the terms staggered, one serving two years and one serving three years for the first term.

This appointment was recently approved at a special meeting by the taxpayers, but I would like to see this added to our Special Act to avoid any future confusion. Instead of terms -- instead of the terms of these two commissioners beginning in July 2014, I would like to suggest for clarity all elected commissioners' terms should be -- begin immediately at the end of the annual meeting.

Last year, two of three Fire Commissioners in the Thompsonville Fire District voted to approve a controversial budget, and for the first time in anyone's memory the taxpayers were not allowed to vote on the budget. In previous years' budgets, taxpayers voted to reject the proposed budgets that included large expenditures for a new firehouse. Many taxpayers feel this is the real reason our vote was not allowed at last year's annual meeting. It is my opinion management and two commissioners did not want another rejected budget that included monies for their new firehouse, and at the last minute the voters were told they would not be allowed to vote.

The taxpayers deserve to have their voices heard at budget time. We need our vote back with no stipulations, not if the budget is raised more than three percent, not if the budget is raised two percent, and not even if there is a decrease as was the case last year.

The budget was manipulated to show a decrease and, in fact, they negative budgeted. There is at least $300,000 in expenditures in this year's finances that has not been budgeted in that prior -- in this current year budget. This is what we've been dealing with at the Thompsonville Fire District. We have opinions from one legal team, then we have opinions from another legal team as to what the act says, what the act doesn't say, and it's very confusing. As taxpayers, we're just upset and we want our vote.

Taxpayers are watchdogs of government spending. The taxpayers need to get their vote back. Please remove the stipulation from this bill and allow all taxpayers in this district the ability to vote on their budget and have a say on how their money is spent.

Thank you for listening and I hope you will consider my suggestions.


And you're up now.

ERLINE PROVENCHER: I think I'm the last one.

A VOICE: I don't know.

SENATOR OSTEN: I think you're the last one from Thompsonville. You're not the last one to speak today, though. (Inaudible) we still have more people.

ERLINE PROVENCHER: I'll make this short. I know our crew back there is probably hungry.

My name is Erline Provencher and I am a Concerned Taxpayer of the Thompsonville Fire District. I have lived in this District for over 40 years and I have been a homeowner. I am here to support Bill Number 5541, only with Dave Alexander's recommendation of the substitute language with no trigger.

As Jeff Cross mentioned, we lost our vote on the annual budget last May, and he did state that we were nickel and dime and donations. Let me tell you, we had two tag sales this summer with donated items from the residents of the Fire District, and we received over $4,000 just on the tag sale. We had people coming up to our tag sale that were way down in the state in Plainville, didn't even know us, but heard of our cause. We were fighting to get our vote back, and they gave us donations. One person gave us a $200 check. We've been working very hard to get our vote back.

I was excited to hear the State Representative worked on bringing forth a bill to you to get our vote back, but unfortunately some interest groups got involved and put a stipulation in the bill stating that a vote by referendum would only be taken if a budget go over three percent budget. Due to -- as I said, due to the stipulation, I cannot ask you to support this bill as written. I do have written testimony and hopefully you do have a copy of that which explains that fully.

I am a proud American and a proud resident of the Thompsonville Fire District. I can freely vote as an American. However, if this bill passes as written, I will not be able to vote freely as a resident of the Thompsonville Fire District. Let America know that our voice was heard in this Legislature. Please support us by allowing us to vote freely without stipulation.

Another note that I just want to mention, which is minor because everyone did agree, but it's regarding the commissioners from 3 to 5, and that is all in my written testimony and I do agree with everybody else. And I want to thank you very much for allowing me to speak. And if you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them.

SENATOR OSTEN: I don't have any questions -- I don't have any questions for you, but I really want to congratulate you and the rest of the group. I think you did a tremendous job representing your area and you were all very good and very polite and I think you did a great job.


SENATOR OSTEN: I want to know, did you come in a bus?


SENATOR OSTEN: You really have done a --

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

SENATOR OSTEN: You've done a tremendous job. You really have, you know, put your case out there. And I for one, and I'm thinking the whole Committee thinks that you've done a very good job, and we really appreciate you staying here all the way through on a Friday night and providing us with enough information. And you can be assured that we all will read your testimony. We do find it interesting. We really appreciate it. Thank you very much for coming.

I think Senator Fasano wants to say something also.

SENATOR FASANO: I'm a size, I'm a size large in the T-shirt, just for the record. No, only kidding, only kidding, only kidding. Only kidding, only kidding.

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

A VOICE: When all this is done, we're not going to mention which firemen, but one of the firemen is the one who (inaudible) this for us and have him put your name.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you. Thank you. Bye.

I just -- just to reiterate, Terri Eickel is not here. Vincent Susco, Vincent Landisio, not here, not here. I don't see them.

I have Mr. Burch and Mr. Cook. Do you guys want to come up together? You might as well. Thank you very much, and I'm certain that Terri, you'll represent Terri Eickel's concerns all at the same time.


SENATOR OSTEN: Maybe. Looks like you are.

LOUIS BURCH: Possibly.


LOUIS BURCH: I'm not sure of the nuances, but --

SENATOR OSTEN: I think you all have -- you're all a con on the same bill, so.

LOUIS BURCH: So, thank you, Senator Osten, Representative Rojas, and the rest of the distinguished members of the Planning and Development Committee.

For the record, my name is Louis Burch. I'm the Government Relations Liaison for Citizens Campaign for the Environment. We work to protect human health and the environment by promoting policies aimed at reducing toxic exposures in our environment, including reducing pesticide use wherever applicable. CCE, therefore, opposes the provisions of Sections 1 through 3 conditionally as they are written. We feel that the -- both the language and the intent of those sections are somewhat unclear and may, in fact, lead to unintended consequences.

I would also testify that our State policy in many areas is to reduce pesticide exposure wherever applicable. Part of the reason that we are concerned about these sections and the lack of clarity therein is that, as you all have seen today, there are many parties that are going to work to try to use that legislation as a vehicle to roll back certain children's health protections that we've passed for school playing fields, particularly with respect to integrated pest management. And we can get into more details if you all have questions.

But integrated pest management, while it is absolutely appropriate and recommended for indoor purposes as well as agricultural uses, is absolutely not appropriate for short-grass playing fields considering that the only type of pest problems -- well, the type of pest problems that you've been hearing folks testify about all day today being grubs, crab grass, weeds, these kinds of things are all -- can all be dealt with using nontoxic methods.

CCE, furthermore, supports the idea of cooperative bids and bulk purchasing of materials and equipment to save municipalities money. Once again, the section does not specify what kind of pesticides are included in that agreement and we are opposed as written on the grounds that it may be interpreted to allow for procurement of lawn care pesticides, which is, once again, inconsistent with the State policy.

We are absolutely willing to have a conversation about making amendments to reflect certain recommendations that the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection have made which can include but are not limited to bulk purchasing of grass seed, composting materials, and natural fertilizer. And we also support a program to provide capital assistance for municipalities to help them with implementing the existing school pesticide ban. And, so, I think what we're really looking for here, as opposed to opportunities to use this legislation to actually roll back certain children's health protections, we would absolutely be supportive of ways to find solutions, technical solutions that some of the school districts need in order to strengthen and implement the law that we have on the books currently.

And, so, with that, I will conclude my testimony and I'm happy to take any questions.

SENATOR OSTEN: Are there any questions for Mr. Burch?

Senator Fasano. I'm sorry, Representative Diminico. Sorry.

REP. DIMINICO: Thank you, Mr. Fasano. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Just curious, on the Pest Advisory Council, sounds like you don't have much faith in the Advisory Council.

LOUIS BURCH: Our understanding is that the Pesticide Advisory Council has been dormant for some number of years. And also from talking to the Deputy Commissioner of Environmental Quality at DEEP, our understanding is that they are, are not strongly supportive of this legislation because of the potential for duplicative functions. We feel that those kinds of responsibilities could well be housed in either Department of Energy and Environmental Protection or Department of Public Health or some other appropriate State agency without adding additional responsibilities to a body that really has not been used for some number of years.

REP. DIMINICO: Well, how do you feel about the Department of Public Health being an advisory -- having an Advisory Council or DEEP?

LOUIS BURCH: I would go with Department of Public Health. So, we're talking about making public health determinations as to whether or not there's a health risk with respect to various kinds of pests. And we feel that's more in the purview of the health -- the local health director or the Commissioner of Public Health, but not necessarily to involve several agencies in one, in one process.

REP. DIMINICO: All right, thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you. Are there any other questions? Senator Fasano.

SENATOR FASANO: Just because the hour is growing late here, but, you know, I think a lot of the concerns we're hearing is that, one, it takes a lot of water with respect to the natural that has caused significant problems to schools. Number two is a lot of municipalities are weighing the theoretical danger of pesticides versus the fact that these fields get chewed up because the roots are not deep enough and the kids are getting injured when they're playing the sports. A lot of schools have even turned to the AstroTurf stuff which may or may not be safe. Who the heck knows on that? And it's just turning into a nightmare. The ability to do this a natural way -- my words -- just has not risen to the ability to keep these fields in play. There's some districts who won't even go to another district to play a game because they're saying, "Your fields aren't safe."

So, we're running into all sorts of problems on this. And you could take issue with the statement, that's fine, but I think the jury is out on, on a causal connection being strong. I mean, I'm sure you take a chemical at a high dose and you put it into a mouse or rat, you're going to get a chemical reaction. I don't think that is indicative of the issue.

So, I think that what's happening is the reality of what's -- what we've put in place is backfiring on us in a number of different regards, and that's the reason why you're saying you're seeing sort of, "Hey, listen, Advisory Council, we need you to look at this with a different set of eyes and determine what's right and wrong and what's the best way of doing it."

That's more of a comment. Feel free to re-comment.

LOUIS BURCH: So, there are a few thing there I want to touch on. The first thing is that I want to reiterate that the jury is absolutely in on the science end. Every reputable scientific body that we reference, whether it be the Environmental Protection Agency, the American Academy of Pediatrics --

SENATOR FASANO: If it is the Environmental Protection Agency then why, when in response to Representative Diminico when he said the DEP is -- DEEP is going to look at this and be part of the advisory, you didn't seem to have the faith and credit in that group.

LOUIS BURCH: No, I didn't say I don't have faith in the DEEP. I said it would be more appropriate in the Department of Public Health.

SENATOR FASANO: Okay. So, (inaudible) with deep, and if you have faith that it's DEEP then I would think that your faith in the advisory group would have to stand. If you believe -- if what you said was true, that DEEP believes there is a causal connection -- I don't know that to be true or not -- then I would argue that they're the appropriate agency to look at it. And, also, I understand there was a Massachusetts study that everyone turned to, the Harvard thing. I haven't read it. So, I'm coming from a little naive stance on this. But my understanding is that they didn't exactly come out as strong as proponents thought they were going to come out. And I say that somewhat hesitantly because I haven't read the report. That's just my understanding. This is -- I think he's dying to make a comment on the -- to the left of you on it. So --

LOUIS BURCH: Well, and I'm going to defer to him in just a moment because he has testimony he wants to deliver as well. But there are --

SENATOR FASANO: He's straining to make a --

LOUIS BURCH: There are a number of issues here, and I'm glad that we're having a conversation about DEEP, some of the technical issues, because it's not a matter of whether or not organic pest management is effective. New York State passed legislation in 2010 that went above and beyond what we have done here in Connecticut and it needs to be said -- we actually have a letter from the assembly sponsor of that legislation saying that they have had -- they have significantly more school districts than we have here in Connecticut. Their law goes farther than ours does, and they have had none of the push back.

And, so, I recognize that there are challenges certain municipalities have, particularly with respect to irrigation and things like that. And, so, these are the things that we need to be working on. We need to be looking at, for example, bulk procurement of grass seed and composting materials. This is going to help many of these municipalities implement that turf care program as opposed to saying, "Look, we don't have the tools we need. We can't do it. You guys please do something about it."

So, so, again, it's those technical things we need to be looking at to make this work because if it works in New York State, why shouldn't it work here?

SENATOR FASANO: I don't want to take up -- because it's getting late and you want to testify, but I'd love to have a off-line conversation so we don't hold up this Committee on this so I could get more educated in this because I don't know the issues as well as I probably should on this. (Inaudible).

REP. ROJAS: Representative Aman.

REP. AMAN: Just quickly, the, the problem I'm having from listening to part of your testimony is the University of Connecticut's turf management team's organization -- the unit there that is known for turf management is known nationwide as being one of the best turf management groups or universities in the country. And the idea that you seem to be very concerned that they are not qualified to come up with the recommendations bothers me. And, so, I guess my real question is, what is the problem that you have with University of Connecticut's turf management (inaudible)?

LOUIS BURCH: (Inaudible). We're not saying that the University of Connecticut isn't qualified. UConn has come out in support of integrated pest management which, once again, I will say is absolutely appropriate and we support integrated pest management for use in indoor settings. The use of chemical --

REP. AMAN: (Inaudible) they're talking -- I'm not talking about their indoor group. I'm talking about -- their turf grass management group is the one that goes across the country testifying and speaking at seminars.

LOUIS BURCH: And that's important --

REP. AMAN: Nobody is paying the bill for them to travel.

LOUIS BURCH: And that's important because many states and many towns across the country have absolutely nothing in place regarding pesticides. And, so, integrated pest -- to introduce integrated pest management to a school in Kentucky, or something like that, that has never done anything on this is a good first step. But to be perfectly frank, they're using a bit of an outdated paradigm on their school playing field if they're still supporting the use of pesticides in places like Connecticut and New York, where we've already taken that step.

REP. AMAN: Thank you.

REP. ROJAS: Thank you.

Have you had a chance to offer your testimony?

BILL COOK: No, but I have been waiting impatiently.

REP. ROJAS: You're on.

BILL COOK: Listen, folks. Good afternoon, good evening, Senators or Representatives. I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you. I appreciate your patience. It's late in the day.

I'm Bill Cook. I represent Grassroots Environmental Education. Grassroots is a nonprofit organization dedicated to educating the public about links between common environmental exposures and human health. I have offered myths and facts about turf pesticides, children's health, IPM in Connecticut schools, and I've offered written testimony by our Associate Executive Director Doug Wood. I'm going to dispense with all of that.

Theoretical danger -- no, here's what's going on. Exposure -- and here's what the science tells us and it's universally acknowledged in the scientific and medical community. Exposure to pesticides contributes to an increased incidence of cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, learning disabilities, Parkinson's, asthma, on and on. Now, I didn't say exposure to pesticides causes because that's a causational relationship. And to be able to demonstrate that, you need to take a control group of children and expose them to a lot of pesticides. You need to take another control group of children and expose them to none and then look at the impacts. That, besides being unethical, is illegal. So, we don't do that.

What we do is we base everything on research that's done, long periods of time, animals and people, a number of different ways, but we have offered -- Grassroots has provided to this Committee and a number of committees a digest of independent science on pesticides and children's health. There is no debate. Every time we are exposed to pesticides, the chances we'll get cancer go up. How much is based on a million different variables: Age, sex, exposure history, health, genetics, on and on. But the truth is every time you're exposed, the chances you'll get cancer go up.

This is more important to pregnant women and young children and children in their teens and developmental years. So, if that's true and science and the medical community universally tell us that's true, the other part must be true also. Every time we avoid an exposure, every time we avoid an exposure, the chances we're going to get cancer are less. How much less is dependent upon a million things. Now, we can't avoid all of those exposures, and we certainly can't protect our children completely, but we can absolutely take reasonable measures to reduce or eliminate pesticide exposure for our families and children in many places.

Now, where can it be done practicably? Now, gasoline -- by the way, gasoline vapor is, you know, it contributes to an increase in incidence of cancer. I don't think anybody is not going to fill their car, but common sense tells us not to have your pregnant wife fill the car, not to have a child fill the car. Common sense tells us to be aware of the vapors coming off and not be sucking them in. We've learned so much on health and environmental exposures in the last two decades, it's amazing. But science tells us -- and I apologize for this analogy, but it's what they use. Science tells us that our genes load the gun and environmental exposures pull the trigger.

We are seeing a spike in cancer, educational developmental problems, learning disabilities, and it's not a spike because of the ability to diagnose. It's a spike in the number. And if you look at -- in New York, we did a law a few years ago that dealt with pesticide reporting, and one of the big groups was called One in Nine, and One in Nine is a group of women and they named themselves One in Nine because one in nine women in this country will get breast cancer. In the time since they became active in New York and now, their name should be changed to One in Eight.

We are poisoning ourselves so many ways. The reason we look at school lawn pesticides is because it is a specific area where we can eliminate the exposure. It's a critical pathway. We can eliminate it without it costing a lot of money and without it wrecking our lives. We can eliminate it practicably. That's why we're after them. That's why you guys passed the law a few years ago. That's why New York passed the law K through 12. This is not about grass. I'm sorry you're having problems, and we support the grub bill thing that is also preceding. We, Grassroots, have trained hundreds of landscapers in New York and Connecticut for free to help. We've provided training materials. We've done everything we can do to help get it right.

The truth is to continue to expose our children to pesticides on playing fields in short grass is not professionally, scientifically reasonable. It's just no longer reasonable.

In New York, yes, we have the law. Yes, it's more expansive. Yes, there haven't been any complaints, but that doesn't matter to you guys. We're doing what we can to work with landscapers who call us. We brought in one of the best trainers in the country to train Connecticut lawn care professionals, and we did it for free. We are interested in protecting children's health, our families' health, and we've got to be honest about pesticides.

I'm sorry we can't demonstrate a causational and relationship -- actually, I'm not sorry because we can't. But the science, contact Mt. Sinai School of Medicine. Contact the American Association of Pediatricians. Contact anybody in the field who is not bought and they will tell you the same thing.

We need to reduce or eliminate our exposures, especially for our children and our women as much as we reasonably can. We think this is reasonable. I am not happy that there's coaches all over the place that are upset, some parents that are upset. But if I sat down with them and I showed them the science and they took the time to really look, I suspect they would either learn to get it right or they'd learn to live with it. But our children's health must be more important than dandelions, grubs, and crab grass.

I apologize for going over my time. I sincerely appreciate your patience with me this evening. Thank you.


Are there any questions?

Seeing none, you're up.

TERRI EICKEL: Hi, my name is Terri Eickel. Thank you so much for hearing my testimony tonight. I'm the Executive Director for the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network, and we represent religious communities. We work with -- with them on environmental issues, and we support a ban on toxic pesticides because we believe this is truly a moral and ethical issue. But I would actually like to spend my testimony backing up what these two gentlemen have said.

I am a cancer survivor. Three and a half years ago I was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. I don't have a family history. I was just past my 37th birthday. I didn't drink. I didn't smoke. I exercised every single day and I found a tumor so big that I didn't think it was cancer because I could not figure out where it started and ended. It was that big. My own doctor described it as a monster.

So, when people talk, sometimes they get a little dismissive about the rising rates in cancer and they say, "Well, everyone is living longer and we've got all these great testing methods, the screening is so super." I didn't benefit and none of my friends, the countless women and men that I've met in their twenties and thirties and, of course, children that are getting cancer, we are not benefiting from screening and we are not too old. We are coming in with symptoms and we are getting diagnosed with cancer.

And in my effort to beat this disease -- and I'm so grateful that I'm cancer free. I've got scans scheduled for next week, could hopefully continue that, I have talked to oncologists and specialists all over the country. I've visited them. I've talked to them on the phone. And every single one talks about reducing your exposure to toxic chemicals and pesticides specifically because it's something you can control. You can buy organic foods. You can avoid using pesticides on your lawns, you know. It's something that you can actually choose to do. But I can't choose when I go to parks and kids can't choose on athletic play grounds and stuff like that. So, we need to make that choice for them. We have to do this.

I can't tell you -- I mean, I would -- I can't tell you the amount of stress and strain I'm under right now waiting for these scans to happen. And I would not wish this fear on my worst enemy. But I know in this room that some of you will be in my shoes because of the odds, and I know some of you will be in my parents' shoes, and that is a terrible place to be. My poor mother, my poor father. If there is anything I could take back, it would be those moments when they found out.

So, some of these -- I've heard some of the testimony in the various committees of people talking about poison ivy, you know, the kids are getting serious cases of poison ivy and I just shake my head. I mean, teach them how to identify. It's five -- you know, the five-finger leaf. It's not the same thing. It's just not.

And, yeah, I mean, I know that there are, there are issues that the athletic directors are facing and the landscapers are facing. But in my testimony I actually provided a link to study released last year showing that those applying pesticides and those who are bystanders of procedures have an excess cancer risk, you know. This is not -- this is just not -- it's not brain surgery. These toxic chemicals, we are overloading our systems and they just can't handle it any more. And, so, people like me who, you know, if you lined me up with 99 of my friends and said, please place yourselves in order as the person who is most likely to get cancer, I would have been last and yet I was first.

So, I mean, I urge you to uphold this ban on, on toxic pesticides and take it further. We can do better. We've got to do better. Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thanks, and I'm glad you're doing better.

TERRY EICKEL: Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: My sister died from cancer.

TERRY EICKEL: Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that.

SENATOR OSTEN: You know, sometimes we all experience that. Every one of us has had family members or close friends who have had cancer, so, we all understand that. We appreciate you coming.

Does anybody have any questions?

And I hope those scans come out great.

TERRY EICKEL: Thank you.

SENATOR OSTEN: Is there anybody -- I have Mike Stratton on here.

A VOICE: Thank you for the opportunity.

SENATOR OSTEN: Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Is there anybody else who wishes to testify? Is there anybody else who wishes to testify? Last call. Is there anyone else who wishes to testify?

Seeing none --

A VOICE: Just one comment about Tuesday. I wanted to clarify, not that a lot of people are in the room, but I know a lot of the folks with badges talk to each other. We're expecting to convene at 11 o'clock -- 10 o'clock. We will likely immediately go into caucus and I would expect that we would not get out until 11:30. So, please spread the word on that.

Thank you. On Tuesday.

SENATOR OSTEN: That's on Tuesday. We're on a Tuesday date. That's this week.

All right. Does anybody else have anything they would like to say? Representative Aman, Senator Fasano, anything, any comments?

Okay, this public hearing is now closed -- oh, wait a minute. Go ahead.

A VOICE: I was going to say I'm going to wear this -- I say I'm going to wear this to my wedding budget hearing. (Inaudible).

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

SENATOR OSTEN: He needs it.

Anybody else have anything?

Thank you very much. The public hearing is closed.