Town withdraws from SWRPA

At the May 19 Board of Selectmen meeting, town leaders voted to officially withdraw from the South Western Regional Planning Association (SWRPA) at the end of this year.

This withdrawal clears the way for the town to become a part of the 18-member Western Connecticut Council of Governments effective Jan. 1, 2015.

The Western Connecticut Council of Governments is a consolidation of two regional planning groups: SWRPA, and the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials.

Town leaders had voiced interest in this switch as early as December, 2013, when the state approved a merger of the two groups.

The merger came about because of a new state statute requiring the consolidation of Connecticut’s 13 regional planning agencies into no more than eight by 2014. If regions do not merge into larger councils of governments (a type of planning agency), they risk losing funding for things like economic development initiatives and regional transportation projects.

A provision of the statute allows regional organizations that merge by mutual agreement into a single council of governments (COG) by the end of 2013 to be exempt from restructuring by the state, as long as the secretary of OPM formally re-designates the consolidated region.

— by Christopher Burns and Jeannette Ross