We Should Be Doing Better

Stratford Designated a Distressed Municipality

Did you know Stratford has been designated a Distressed Municipality by the State of Connecticut?
Do you know why?

Other than reading information posted on Facebook and other social media sites, including news publications, is all you know is that because of this designation Stratford was awarded over $4.7 million?

A recent Letter to the Editor authored by Stratford resident Rachel Rusnak clearly presented Stratford’s “Dis-honor” of being designated a Distressed Municipality.

“In a blow to the residents of Stratford for the second time in 15 years, we have the unfortunate distinction of landing on the State of Connecticut’s Distressed Municipalities list. A dis-honor I’m sure most of us would have rather avoid; we find ourselves among the top 25 impoverished communities out of 169, and one of only two in Fairfield County.”

Rusnak also noted “Stratford last appeared on the list in 2012, under the guidance of former Mayor Harkins. Since then, in 2018 the Yankee Institutes’ “Assessing Municipal Fiscal Health in Connecticut” identified Stratford as the third worst-off municipality in the state, based on general fund balances, long-term obligations, pension contributions, and changes in unemployment rates and property values.”

Overview:
Stratford ranked #24 out of 25 municipalities (out of 169 towns and municipalities) in the State that are considered Distressed.

Updated annually, the Distressed Municipalities’ lists identify the state’s most fiscally and economically distressed municipalities and are used by state agencies to target funds for needs which may include housing, insurance, open space, brownfield remediation and economic development programs, among others.

The lists develop statistical indicators measuring the fiscal capacity of each municipality based on:

  • Tax base
  • Personal income of residents
  • Residents’ need for public services

According to C.G.S. Section 32-9p, a distressed municipality should be based on “high unemployment and poverty, aging housing stock and low or declining rates of growth in job creation, population, and per capita income.

Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) Methodology:

Weighted components are summed to measure the rank of the 169 towns. For each component, every town is ranked from 1 to 169, with the best town scoring 1 and worst 169. The top 25 towns with highest total scores are designated distressed municipalities.

DECD’s components and weight:
1. Per capita income for 2018, weight 1;
2. % of poverty in population for 2018, weight 1;
3. Unemployment rate for 2019, weight 2;
4. % change in population from 2000 to 2010, weight 1;
5. % change in employment from 2009 to 2019, weight 1;
6. % change in per capita income from 2000 to 2018, weight 1;
7. % of house stock built before 1939 in 2018, weight 1/3;
8. % population with high school degree and higher in 2018, weight 1; and
9. Per Capita Adjusted Equalized Net Grand List in 2020-2021, weight 1.

DECD additionally included:
(1) Level of Per Capita Income
(2) % of population with high school degree and higher and
(3) .Per Capita Adjusted Equalized Net Grand List (AENGL) to arrive at its ranking.

Data sources: Census 2000, Census 2010, 2014-2018 Census American Community Survey 5-year Estimates, DOL, DOE

2020 Distressed Municipalities Rankings
Ranked by Score

Ansonia 1417 1
Waterbury 1378 2
New London 1366 3
New Britain 1359 4
Derby 1347 5
Hartford 1309 6
Bridgeport 1304 7
Bristol 1292 8
Windham 1283 9
Torrington 1281 10
Sprague 1275 11
Norwich 1238 12
East Hartford 1228 13
Montville 1216 14
Griswold 1212 15
Voluntown 1203 16
East Haven 1202 17
Winchester 1184 18
Meriden 1180 19
New Haven 1180 20
Putnam 1165 21
Preston 1159 22
West Haven 1153 23
Stratford 1151 24
Chaplin 1150 25

Prepared by DECD Research September 2020

Thanks to our distressed status Stratford is on track to receive an additional $4,719,720 from the Distressed Municipalities pot, which is funded via state bonds, and in this fiscal year through the Cares Act. (The Mayor’s Proposed 2022 Operating Budget misidentifies this revenue as “State Covid Funding”, however, the Governor’s budget is very clear that this funding is a result of Stratford being identified as a “Distressed Municipality”.)

Question: As a Stratford Resident is this how you want our Town to be labeled?

What do you think we should do to move Stratford Forward?
Please comment via: Editor@stratfordcrier.com
Thank you.

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