HARTFORD, CT – Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is approving the recommendations of the Municipality Accountability Review Board (MARB) to designate the City of West Haven as a Tier IV municipality, providing the greatest level of state oversight into a municipality’s finances as allowed under state law.
The board’s recommendation to change city’s designation was detailed in a report released on April 14, 2022, and follows a statutorily required 30-day period of public comment. That statute also requires the governor to approve or disapprove the recommendation.
The governor explained that he is approving the change due to the city’s strained fiscal condition, which he said is lacking adequate oversight by municipal leaders.
“As detailed in the MARB report, there is an obvious lack of fiscal controls in West Haven and it is necessary for the state to step in and provide the oversight and accountability that the residents of the town and the state deserve,” Governor Lamont said. “This decision is a direct result of the fiscal mismanagement in the city that has gone on for too long. Taxpayers deserve to have confidence that their money is well spent, and the stringent oversight that a Tier IV designation provides will allow the state to provide the tools necessary to address this situation.”
The MARB is a state board that was established in 2017 for the purpose of providing technical, financial, and other assistance and related accountability for municipalities experiencing various levels of fiscal distress. Municipalities experiencing degrees of fiscal distress and in need of technical or other assistance may be designated into one of four tiers, which is based on several factors, including fund balance, bond rating, equalized mill rate, and levels of state aid.
Oversight of designated Tier I and Tier II municipalities involves providing financial information and reporting on remedial measures and actions, as well as presenting a three-year financial plan. For designated Tier II municipalities, the MARB must approve assumptions in regard to state aid and property tax revenues used in the annual budget.
For designated Tier III municipalities, the MARB also reviews, comments and makes recommendations related to annual budgets, contracts, debt obligations, and other matters, and has approval powers regarding refunding bonds and labor agreements and arbitration awards. Tier IV involves more significant MARB approval powers in regard to budgets, transfers, contracts, debt, and labor contracts.
The MARB is comprised of 11 members, which includes appointments from the governor and legislative leaders of both parties.