Lawmakers set to discuss municipal reimbursement cuts after school building scandal – NBC Connecticut

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Farmington and Hartford are on the hook for more money than they had budgeted for school building projects so far.

The two municipalities learned about it shortly after the firing of the head of the state funding program, while the files are being reviewed and a federal investigation is underway into the management of the program.

Lawmakers are now considering how to get from these districts what they were promised.

A joint hearing is scheduled on the subject for the finance, revenue and surety and education committees on Monday.

“There is concern for the entire state delegation, Farmington, for the leaders of the city of Farmington, and I think many voters as well,” said State Sen. Derek Slap, D-West Hartford. , which represents the inhabitants of this district.

Farmington received a letter from the state in December saying that after a review, the state would reimburse about 24% of a certain portion of its school construction project, not the approximately 29% from city officials who say they were planned.

The chairman of Farmington High School’s building committee told NBC Connecticut the city expects the state to cover $915,000.

Adding to the confusion, city residents endorsed the higher percentage in a referendum vote.

“Overall, it’s a relatively small amount of money for the public school building program and the budget, but it’s a significant amount for the taxpayers of Farmington,” said Slap, who thinks himself optimistic that there will be a solution in Farmington.

In a statement, Rep. Mike Demicco, D-Farmington, said:

“This news is certainly frustrating to Farmington residents and local leaders. Although this issue for Farmington involves less than $1 million out of a total project cost of approximately $130 million, the Farmington Legislative Delegation has assured the Board of Education and City Council, in person, that we are working to ‘make Farmington whole’, and I have full confidence that it will happen.”

Meanwhile, heads of state are looking to restore confidence in this school construction project. The new acting commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services addressed the issue during a taping of NBC Connecticut’s Face the Facts.

“Taxpayers deserve these answers, as does our legislature. So not only are we doing this internal review with internal auditors and our own internal staff, but we’re really about to hire an external audit firm that should actually be on board this week, to start doing this work,” Michelle Gilman said. .

Hartford is in a similar situation with its Bulkeley High School construction project.

In a letter to the state this week, Hartford city corporation attorney Howard Rifkin wrote that it was a fifty percent reduction in reimbursement from what the city ​​was waiting.

“A rescission of your office’s engagement at this late date, now that the City has already incurred significant costs and expenses in reliance on the OSCG&R’s initial representations, would result in significant hardship for the City of Hartford,” Rifkin said in the letter.

House Speaker Matt Ritter said lawmakers are looking at how many other municipalities may be affected.

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