Local Government in Connecticut

A system That's Rather Unique

There are 169 towns that make up local government in Connecticut. These towns are then divided into incorporated cities or boroughs, as well as unincorporated villages. The system is very similar to civil townships. For example, the territory of Connecticut is split into towns. But there is a different in the way that the towns are run. Part of the decision-making process is left in the hands of individual towns. Much like cities in other states. But leaving a lot of the decision-making process in the hands of local towns does have its problems. But there are also advantages to this type of system.

One such advantage, is that residents of the town have a much greater say in issues relating to the local area. However, this can also be a double edged sword. Giving towns broad powers when it comes to decision-making means there can sometime be very serious disputes when a certain project affects a number of different towns. It's only natural for local residents to want the best for their own particular area, and forget about the much bigger picture. Making wider decisions on a local basis can lead to a lot of discord and can sometimes scupper the project completely.

One example of this happening was the Sikorsky Airport. Neighbouring towns Bridgeport and Startford found themselves caught up in a length legal battle. Another example relates to the construction of Freeway number 7. A lot of political discourse was stirred up between Wilton and Norwalk.

Connecticut is made up of 8 powerless counties

Municipal administrators took up the slack for land use and infrastructure planning

In 1960, when the county governments were dissolved, the issue of land use and infrastructure planning was not taken into consideration and there was a bit of a gap. It was decided to give power to municipal administrations to cover the gap. But the unfortunate consequence of this was that towns often found themselves pitted against each other. This meant that quite often, there was no progress at all with certain projects because all towns involved were unable to agree on a way to move forward. Some projects never even got off the ground, and if they did there were often costly and long lawsuits involved.

A system was created to try and resolve these problems. In the 1980s, Connecticut passed legislation that led to the creation of fifteen regional councils. These councils combined towns with similar demographics into one planning area. Following their creation an analysis of the local planning regulation was completed and led to the number of regions being reduced to just nine.

These nine councils are responsible for land use policy making, preparations for emergencies, developing infrastructure and long-term planning in relations to economic and population changes. The councils are funded by state and member towns and have no taxing authority themselves. They also have a limited amount of law enforcement authority and can create regional task forces to combat organized crime and the trafficking of drugs.

News & facts about Connecticut

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