SEC. 1. The general assembly shall by general law delegate such legislative authority as from time to time it deems appropriate to towns, cities and boroughs relative to the powers, organization, and form of government of such political subdivisions. The general assembly shall from time to time by general law determine the maximum terms of office of the various town, city and borough elective offices. After July 1, 1969, the general assembly shall enact no special legislation relative to the powers, organization, terms of elective offices or form of government of any single town, city or borough, except as to (a) borrowing power, (b) validating acts, and (c) formation, consolidation or dissolution of any town, city or borough, unless in the delegation of legislative authority by general law the general assembly shall have failed to prescribe the powers necessary to effect the purpose of such special legislation.

SEC. 2. The general assembly may prescribe the methods by which towns, cities and boroughs may establish regional governments and the methods by which towns, cities, boroughs and regional governments may enter into compacts. The general assembly shall prescribe the powers, organization, form, and method of dissolution of any government so established.

The Age Of Regions:  Urban Expert David Rusk Outlines The Merits - And Limitations - Of Regional Cooperation
August 8, 2004 Hartford Courant

In 1993, you put Hartford and Bridgeport on a list with Detroit and Newark as cities on life support. Do you still think that's true?

The specific phrase was "cities past the point of no return." I would have to amend that to say cities past the point of almost no return, because up to 1990 no city which had gone past three milestones; significant population loss, significant racial disparity between the city and suburbs and above all had dropped below 70 percent of per capita income (compared to its suburbs). No city had ever come back on the income scale.

Chicago did in this past decade. There was such an enormous gentrification that went on around The Loop. Chicago did get off the list, but 17 other cities joined it and Hartford sunk down farther on that list. Cleveland and Detroit stabilized, but I would have to say that the overall picture, even at the end of the decade of the most sustained prosperity our country has seen, is that these cities where there is economic and racial isolation have not changed.

Your book "Cities Without Suburbs" introduced the idea of elastic vs. inelastic cities, in other words, a city that could physically expand, usually through annexation, has a better chance to solve its problems than cities frozen into historic boundaries, such as Hartford. Are you still thinking that way?

Yes, but most of my work has been in the Northeast or the Middle West. Annexation is impossible in New England, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, and it's improbable in many Midwestern communities. You really have to think of other strategies: regional land use and transportation planning, regional mixed-income housing policies, inclusionary zoning or regional tax-base sharing.

You're not going to be able to change the nature of your governments, but you can at least change what they're called upon to do on a multi-municipal basis.

You recommended that small and medium metro areas could solve some of their problems by forming metro governments. Is that idea gaining any traction? How important is the Louisville experience?

[Please read the rest of this article at the Hartford COURANT website]


Towns Rethinking Home Rule;  With Dwindling State Funding And Growing Demands For Service, Communities Are More Open To Forging Regional Ties To Save Money
July 21, 2003, By GREGORY SEAY, Courant Staff Writer
The state's financial squeeze is prompting more Connecticut communities to look at partnership opportunities with neighbors to provide vital services more efficiently and inexpensively.  For instance, Berlin plans to build a new animal control facility large enough to accommodate the needs of neighboring New Britain and Newington.

Four towns - Cornwall, Falls Village, Salisbury and Sharon - are sharing the $8,000 annual cost of a new daily bus service to transport elderly and handicapped citizens to medical appointments.  Public policy experts and other proponents of regionalization say the new openness could be one of the few benefits that emerge from the statewide fiscal crisis.

"Regionalization has a better chance to succeed in this climate than it ever has before," said David Baram, former Bloomfield mayor and a proponent of municipal cooperation.  The deeply embedded notion of home rule has long made regionalization a tough sell for communities skeptical of ceding control of services, observers say. Moreover, they were wary of persistent prodding from outsiders, mostly state leadership, in promoting the concept.

Until the middle of the last century, county government was the mechanism for coordinating regional services to communities, particularly police, jails and courts. In 1959, legislators abolished a system that had grown corrupt and ineffective.  Over the years, various public-policy organizations, such as the Capitol Region Council of Governments, emerged to promote regional cooperation. But interest in regionalization remained dim, observers say, as long as the suburbs were buffered from the problems plaguing Connecticut's cities, such as crime and financial pressures.

But as those pressures have spread and the state's aid spigot dried up this budget season, more suburban communities are wrestling with providing public services without drowning property owners in taxes to pay for them.  It has also opened more taxpayers to consider what regional cooperation has to offer.  In June, about 200 people from the New Haven area and Naugatuck Valley participating in a regionalization forum at Yale University were surveyed about their support for regional strategies for financing local government and public services.

Some 54 percent favored them, including sharing taxes regionally to fund services, said Yale Professor Cynthia Farrar. More than three-fourths of those in favor also indicated they wanted a say in how those dollars are spent, Farrar said.  David Russell, a former Granby first selectman who until recently promoted regionalism from the state level, said residents in many communities are probably ahead of their elected leaders in being more open to cooperative ventures.

[Please read the rest of this article at the Hartford COURANT website]
Conservation, Development Focus Of New Regional Plan
April 27, 2003
By MIKE SWIFT, Courant Staff Writer
For all the convenience of its location and its high-quality suburban communities and schools, the metro Hartford region must overcome significant problems if it is to preserve its quality of life, according to a proposed new regional conservation and development plan.

The Capitol Region Council of Governments' new regional plan - the first since 1988 - urges the region's 29 cities and towns to preserve open land, to revitalize Hartford, and to replenish the region's aging workforce.

As a purely advisory document, the CRCOG plan is toothless. But in a region that is consuming land at nearly triple its rate of population growth, that lost 28,000 jobs during the 1990s, and where poverty is concentrated in urban areas where much of its future workforce is growing up, advocates say the plan is crucial to the region's future.

"If Hartford fails and we lose jobs left and right and people leave, where are we then?" said Susan Errickson, chairwoman of CRCOG's regional planning commission and head of Tolland's planning and zoning commission. "Hartford has some real problems. The purpose of the report is to say that we're all in this together, and hopefully that's what people come away with from it."

The CRCOG plan echoes a recent study backed by the Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford, which showed that Connecticut is developing land much more quickly than it is adding people as population spreads out from the region's core.  "This continuing trend of movement away from the region's
center is increasingly raising concerns about the loss of open space, development pressure on our rural communities, the negative impacts on our central city and some of the older suburbs, and the lack of access for many to jobs spread across the region," the CRCOG plan says.

While the suburbs have seen steady growth in population, jobs, housing values and wealth as people moved out from the region's core, "this growth is not sustainable with a failing core city," the plan says.  "We're seeing a lot of alarming trends," said John P. Guszkowski, community development planner for CRCOG.  A recent national study of sprawl found that while the population of metro Hartford grew by 7.6 percent between 1982 and 1997, its urbanized land increased by 20.4 percent.

[Please read the rest of this article at the Hartford COURANT website]
Regionalism making comeback in county; Debate over movement's merits reaches gubernatorial race

By Matthew Strozier - Staff Writer -  Stamford ADVOCATE
October 7, 2002

Forty-two years ago last week, county government in Connecticut officially ended, closing the book on an almost 300-year-old institution. This year, the anniversary again went without public notice.  By the time of its demise, county government was nominal. Three county commissioners oversaw county jails and the sheriff system, but that was about it.

Four decades later, regionalism is making a comeback of sorts. Fairfield County officials say traffic congestion, housing shortages, bioterrorism threats and suburban sprawl must be addressed jointly. And debate over regionalism -- the word coined to describe the movement -- has reached the gubernatorial race.

While calling for an end to home rule may amount to political suicide, Connecticut's intensely fractionalized system of governance may be forced to adapt in coming years, experts and politicians say. If it does, Connecticut will join a trend in other states.  "I would say that the public is probably ahead of the elected officials" in supporting regional governance, said Thomas Wright, executive vice president of the New York City-based Regional Plan Association.  "And local officials are often ahead of state and
federal officials."

Regionalism means different things to different people  -- everything from full-fledged county government with police officers and parks to towns purchasing salt together. Connecticut has regional planning agencies -- sometimes called councils of government -- but some say they are not enough.  "Many of our basic services should be coordinated, in my opinion, across city borders," Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy said. "I think, intellectually, people understand that and support it. But many people say, 'But if we do this, where is it going to stop?' "  Problems created by the current system are clear, critics say.

Dr. Anthony Iton, Stamford's director of health and social services, pointed to health and bioterrorism. Connecticut's health system is parochial, he said, with health administration starting at one municipal border and ending at the next.  Since Sept. 11, deficiencies in this system have been exposed, Iton said.  Regional emergency plans in the event of an attack on the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, N.Y., for example, are coordinated within each municipality, not across the region.

[Please read the rest of this article at the Stamford ADVOCATE website]

SACIA chief reveals tarnish on Gold Coast economy
By Julie Fishman-Lapin, Stamford ADVOCATE Staff Writer
January 24, 2004
GREENWICH -- Armed with charts, graphs and demographic statistics, Christopher Bruhl grabbed an opportunity yesterday to give local business leaders a wake-up call.  Bruhl, president and chief executive officer of SACIA, the Business Council of Southwestern Connecticut, addressed about 100 Greenwich Chamber of Commerce members in an effort to answer the question, "Has the Gold Coast lost its luster?"

"No, it hasn't, but if we don't keep polishing it, it will," said Bruhl, keynote speaker of the chamber's annual economic outlook luncheon held at Milbrook Country Club.  A number of worrisome issues, ranging from antiquated infrastructure to slow population growth, could stall the area's competitiveness if not addressed, Bruhl said.

"A company can't thrive in a community that is failing," he said. "So what the future is likely to look like happens to be a business issue."  Some of these issues may not be pressing, but they will be in the future, he said.  The population growth rate in Fairfield County, for example, is growing at double the rate of the rest of the state, but it's growing at about half of the national average, Bruhl said. From July 2001 to July 2002, Fairfield County added about 12,000 people.  The number of automobile registrations is double the number of births, he said.  Further, the younger population is decreasing while the 65-and-older population is increasing, he said.

[Please read the rest of this article at the Stamford ADVOCATE website]