Mayor tells legislature that East Hartford needs PILOT funds
By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Fri., Apr. 1, 2011
East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc went before a committee of the state legislature on March 24 to ask for the return of PILOT funds that would be lost in Gov. Dannell P. Malloy’s proposed state budget. The budget as proposed would eliminate a grant that cities received in lieu of taxes on manufacturing machinery and equipment.
Leclerc told Appropriations Committee members that she was “stunned” when she learned that the Manufacturing and Machinery Exemption (MME) PILOT program would be eliminated. As the home base of Pratt and Whitney, the state’s largest manufacturer, East Hartford is the largest recipient of such funds in the state. “I knew at once the elimination of the PILOT grant would have a direct and catastrophic impact to the East Hartford budget for 2011-2012,” Leclerc said.
PILOT, which stands for “payment in lieu of taxes,” refers to a grant that East Hartford received from the state in place of a tax on manufacturing machinery. East Hartford will lose $3.6 million if the governor’s proposal to end the program becomes law when the state budget is passed.
The MME program provides a 100-percent exemption of local property taxes due on qualified, newly-acquired manufacturing machinery and equipment, with the state reimbursing municipalities for a portion of the lost tax revenue. “The direct impact to our budget is $2.9 million when potential new revenue sources, identified in the governor’s budget, are factored in,” Leclerc explained.
This issue was raised the same day by town residents concerned about a rise in tax rates during Leclerc’s monthly “Lunch with the Mayor” meeting. The elimination of the program is part of the governor’s effort to cut the state budget, she said.
“It was not done intentionally by the governor,” Leclerc said to the concerned residents, “but I want to assure you that I am still fighting the fight to restore those funds.”
State Rep. Timothy Larson (D-East Hartford) has also met with the governor’s office in regard to East Hartford’s situation. “It’s not like we can simply send a $3.6 million tax bill to UTC to make up for the loss,” said Larson, a member of the Finance Committee. “I was encouraged by our meeting with the governor’s people, and there are a lot of legislators committed to getting this problem fixed before voting on a budget.”