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Where the money goes: Municipal grants and aid

The Office of Fiscal Analysis released a breakdown of how much taxpayer money is being allotted to Connecticut’s 169 municipalities for fiscal year 2023, with a grand total of $2.9 billion going to support education, roads, government buildings and municipal projects.

This year’s package of grants and municipal aid was $142 million more than last year, largely because of the extra vehicle property tax payments to municipalities whose mill rates exceeded the 32.46 mill cap placed on them this year, part of a larger tax relief package passed by the General Assembly.

Of course, not all municipalities receive the same amounts. The grants are based on formulas that are occasionally altered by the state legislature, most recently for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), which supplements towns and cities for property tax revenue lost on state-owned property, and for the Education Cost Sharing grant, which heavily considers poverty levels and school performance.

The Education Cost Sharing grant is also generally the largest grant a municipality will receive from the state, and its formula was recently updated to ensure struggling schools receive a greater share of the available money.

To help put such big numbers in perspective, Connecticut Inside Investigator took the total estimated amounts going to each municipality, including the car tax reimbursement, and broke them down on a per capita basis.

On average, Connecticut municipalities will receive $599 per person in grants, aid and revenue sharing, but that number involves very different figures on both the low and high end of the spectrum. Connecticut’s cities also have large amounts of property owned by the state, higher tax rates, more road area to care for and increased poverty rates, all of which translate into larger grant and aid revenue.

Generally, the larger the municipality, the more money they will receive, but that is not always the case. Connecticut’s struggling cities like Hartford, Bridgeport, Waterbury and New Haven took in far larger sums in grant and aid money than the comparatively tiny town of Canaan.

However, Stamford, for instance, received $28.6 million, which translated to $211.73 per capita.

On the other hand, Connecticut’s smaller, or many times, wealthy communities receive much less due to very low poverty rates, less road area and high performing school districts which they mostly support themselves through low property taxes on high-value properties. Since they generally have lower tax rates, most were not included in car tax reimbursement since their mill rates were already below the threshold.

Interestingly, the wealthy town of Woodbridge received more in car tax reimbursement than it did for all other grants and aid combined. Woodbridge received over $1 million in car tax reimbursement, but only $969,209 in other forms of grants, aid and revenue sharing.

So here is the least of the ten municipalities that received the most per person, and those that received the least. These are based on totals encompassing ten different grants and forms of aid, including the car tax reimbursement, which, in several cases, added tens of millions to the overall total:

  1. Hartford. Per Capita: $2,599.32. Hartford is estimated to receive $312.7 million.
  2. New Haven. Per Capita: $2,180.84. New Haven is estimated to receive $292 million.
  3. Waterbury. Per Capita: $1,804.38. Waterbury is estimated to receive $206.5 million.
  4. New Britain. Per Capita: $1,745.32. New Britain is estimated to receive $128.8 million.
  5. Windham. Per Capita: $1,648.52. Windham is estimated to receive $40.2 million.
  6. Bridgeport: Per Capita: $1,598.38. Bridgeport is estimated to receive $237 million.
  7. East Hartford: Per Capita: $1,517.07. East Hartford is estimated to receive $77.3 million
  8. Meriden: Per Capita: $1,306.02. Meriden is estimated to receive $79.4 million.
  9. Norwich: Per Capita: $1,262.57. Norwich is estimated to receive $50.5 million.
  10. Naugatuck: Per Capita: $1,213.78. Naugatuck is estimated to receive $38.3 million.

Town’s that receive the least in grants, aid and revenue sharing per capita.

  1. Greenwich: Per Capita: $41.68. Greenwich is estimated to receive $2.6 million.
  2. Darien: Per Capita: $45.02. Darien is estimated to receive $978,934.
  3. Lyme: Per Capita: $46.16. Lyme is estimated to receive $350,359.
  4. New Canaan: Per Capita: $46.57. New Canaan is estimated to receive $960,449.
  5. Old Saybrook: Per Capita: $52.47. Old Saybrook is estimated to receive $552,577.
  6. Waterford: Per Capita: $57.62. Waterford is estimated to receive $1.1 million.
  7. Westport: Per Capita: $60.66. Westport is estimated to receive $1.6 million.
  8. Weston: Per Capita: $69.48. Weston is estimated to receive $718,166.
  9. Ridgefield: Per Capita: $73.41. Ridgefield is estimated to receive $1.8 million.
  10. Easton: Per Capita: $73.58. Easton is estimated to receive $558,762.

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Marc E. Fitch, Senior Investigative Reporter

Marc E. Fitch

Marc worked as an investigative reporter for Yankee Institute and was a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow. He previously worked in the field of mental health is the author of several books and novels, along with numerous freelance reporting jobs and publications. Marc has a Master of Fine Arts degree from Western Connecticut State University.

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