The following is a summary of the projects and programs currently provided by NECCOG.
Property Revaluation Program
Property revaluation is a state mandated process of each town on a fixed schedule and includes the inspection (physical) of each property at least every 10 years and an updated valuation every five years. NECCOG, in 2009, sought and secured legislation (Public Act 09-60) that enabled a regional approach to property revaluation. Two elements of the new law are significant for regional success. The first is that the new law allows a regional initiative to alter the revaluation date for the individual towns. In this way we were able to equalize the workload over the five year period — creating efficiencies and resulting in reduce costs. Without this new authority the initiative would not work. The second is that we are going forward (within the scope of the existing law) with a new revaluation approach. Each of our towns will conduct full inspections on fifty-percent of their properties. This contrasts with the current practice of a “full” revaluation every ten years where all properties are inspected and the so-called “statistical” or “update” revaluation where no inspections take place. The result, we believe, will be a less volatility in local property values and better stability for each town. Subsequent to the legislation’s passage, NECCOG put in place the first ever regional revaluation program in Connecticut. The resulting savings to the participating towns was significant – estimated at more than $650,000. NECCOG administers the Program and in 2015 the Program will begin its second five-year cycle.
Paramedic Intercept Program
NECCOG operates a regional paramedic intercept program to provide advanced life support services for a majority of the towns in its region. Advanced Life Support (ALS) provides a higher level of care delivered in the field to patients than Basic Life Support (BLS). Every town in Connecticut is mandated to provide its residents with BLS services. Having ALS in the Region is similar to taking a hospital emergency room to the field. Without question it results in saving lives and improving patient care. In 1999, due to the relatively low volume of medical calls and the high costs (ALS was operating on insurance reimbursements alone) of providing ALS services, the Region was in danger of losing its ALS services. At that time NECCOG agreed to coordinate and subsidize the ALS program and secured an ALS vendor to provide ALS services. Currently, the program covers approximately 2,000 ALS transports per year.
Related to the Regional Paramedic Intercept Program is a new study for 2014-15 to be facilitated by NECCOG for its region to examine pre-hospital emergency care. This study is funded by the Connecticut Regional Performance Incentive Program and will examine each element of pre-hospital emergency care (initial responders, ambulance, paramedics, hospitals and dispatch) to determine what improvements can be made to enhance patient care and efficiencies.
Animal Services Program
NECCOG, since 2004, has operated a regional animal services program. The Program began with three towns and now serves nine towns with 24/7/365 services. The NECCOG program provides the full range of animal control services as directed by Connecticut Statutes for the
health and well being of domestic animals. We also operate a kennel facility in Dayville where animals are housed for potential adoption, quarantine or to be reunited with their owner. Each year the program receives in excess of 7,000 calls, conducts approximately 300 investigations and places approximately 350 animals. To date, the program has placed more than 4,200 animals and no animal has been euthanized due to lack of space.
The Engineering Services Program (begun in 2007), the only such one in Connecticut, provides professional engineering services full-time for the towns of Ashford, Brooklyn, Canterbury, Pomfret and Putnam. Essentially, these towns split the cost of having a professional engineer with the benefit of having such services available on an on-call basis – at no additional cost. Engineering services include site design; site review; environmental permitting (underground storage tanks and septic systems); drainage calculations; sewer design and review; zoning and subdivision application review; inland wetlands reviews; road design; report and specification writing; contract preparation; quantity takeoffs and cost estimating; and construction inspection. Our engineer works with the Connecticut Department of Transportation and other agencies on an ongoing basis and can serve as a liaison for the town on a given project. Other member towns have access to the engineer on a fee basis and conditional on time available. Project examples include:
- Design services and bid document preparation for the Route 44 Crosswalk Safety Upgrade in Ashford
- Design services and permitting specifications for the Vehicle Wash Water Drainage System at the DPW in Brooklyn
- Evaluated the Potential Pomfret Community School Supplemental Drinking Water Well Siting in Pomfret
Geographic Information Services Program
Geographic Information Services (GIS) has been used by NECCOG for more than a decade. In 2008, with the assistance of a Connecticut Regional Performance Incentive Grant, NECCOG began work on putting in place a fully regional GIS system. The backbone of the system created is highly accurate parcel data. To do this NECCOG either created or corrected parcel data from 11 of its 12 member towns (the exception being Killingly – which had its own data). NECCOG also developed an online GIS Viewer fully integrated with each towns parcel data and related
assessor data sets – allowing persons to locate parcels and information that previously required a trip to a town hall. The viewer also contains natural resource information, transportation and other data. With the addition of four new towns to NECCOG, the organization is developing a new GIS viewer. The GIS Program also provides maps on demand for member towns covering a range of issues and needs. The Program can also conduct advanced build-out analysis for our member towns.
Land Use Services
Land Use services is a fundamental service of NECCOG and one that has been with the organization when it first formed as a planning agency in the late 1950s. NECCOG maintains expertise in land use including: zoning, subdivision, wetlands, (regulation drafting/review) planning (smart growth, build-out analysis, and plans of conservation and development facilitation). NECCOG also provides (when requested) local land use commissions with process and procedure assistance. NECCOG, along with providing land use planning services for its member towns, is required by state statues to facilitate a regional planning process and Regional Plan of Conservation and Development. The Regional POCD, in accordance with State Statute is required to “make recommendations for use of the area including land use, housing, principal highways and freeways, bridges, airports, parks, playgrounds, recreational areas, schools, public institutions, public utilities, agriculture and such other matters as, in the opinion of the agency, will be beneficial to the area.” NECCOG also conducts advisory reviews of municipal applications for planning and zoning development, regulations and map changes to determine regional impacts. In performing its regional planning functions the NECCOG staff regularly work with state, federal and other regional partners to provide input on land use issues. NECCOG, on an ongoing basis, initiates and comments on land use matters at the General Assembly. An example of this is the Connecticut Village District Act enacted in 1998, as the result of requests from the Town of Brooklyn, enabling towns to better protect the unique character of their towns.
Examples of land use assistance include:
- Thompson Zoning and Subdivision Regulations
- Canterbury Plan of Conservation and Development
- Killingly Sand and Gravel Regulations
- Thompson Plan of Conservation and Development
- Woodstock Wetland Regulations
- Brooklyn Wetland Regulations
- Killingly Subdivision Regulations
- MMUDD Regulations for Killingly
- Thompson P&Z Training
- Woodstock Wetland Agency Training
- Killingly Subdivision Regulations
- Pomfret Build-Out Study
- Killingly Planner Assistance
- Eastford Plan of Conservation and Development
- Killingly Plan of Conservation and Development
- Putnam Zoning Regulations
- Ashford Subdivision Regulations
- Union Plan of Conservation and Development
- Brooklyn Planner Services
- Ashford Zoning Regulations
- Woodstock Plan of Conservation and Develpment
NECCOG has an ongoing role in economic development for the Region. We provide assistance to towns on a individual project basis (providing maps, demographic data, site analysis, etc.) or with strategic planning, the region in terms of strategic planning, and information of business looking to locate or expand in the Region. Specifically, NECCOG facilitates the Northeast Economic Partnership Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) in accordance with the guidelines of the U.S. Economic Development Administration. The Northeastern Connecticut CEDS is the product developed with broad base and diverse community participation that addresses the economic challenges and potential of the Region. It promotes sustainable economic development and opportunity, fosters effective transportation systems, enhances and protects the environment and balances resources through sound management of development. The CEDS is constant with and complementary to the Connecticut Plan of Conservation and Development and the Connecticut Economic Development Plan. The organization also administers the Eastern Connecticut Enterprise Corridor (ECEC). The ECEC, established by statute in 1994 covering properties in 10 communities (primarily in association with Interstate 395), is regional rural version of the more common urban enterprise zone.
Transit District Administration
Since 1998, NECCOG has been the administrator of the Northeastern Connecticut Transit District (NECTD). NECTD is the public transportation provider for northeastern Connecticut, available for all residents and visitors to our region. Currently, the District provides approximately 50,000 rides per year – a more than 60 percent increase from 2008. The District provides two types of service: deviated fixed route and dial-a-ride for elderly and disabled persons. The deviated fixed route service operates Monday – Sunday with various scheduled stops located throughout the service area. The elderly and disabled service, which provides door-to-door service, is also available seven days per week by reservation with NECTD – details can be found on the District’s website: nectd.org. NECCOG’s role, as the administrator of NECTD, provides multiple benefits for the Region: (1) administrative costs are kept lo (lower than any other transit district due to the shared use of personnel); (2) the District’s facility serves as a low-cost home for NECCOG and a valuable regional meeting place, and (3) the District’s board are the same persons that are responsible for the function of their towns (prior to NECCOG Transit was operated by an appointed board with limited oversight and accountability to the member towns.
NECCOG is responsible, in coordination and consultation with the Connecticut Department of Transportation, for making transportation decisions in the region. NECCOG is the designated recipient of the United States Department of Transportation planning funds for use in performing transportation planning work through the Connecticut Department of Transportation. As a condition of the receipt of Federal highway and transit capital or operating assistance, NECCOG is required to have a transportation planning process and a plan detailing that process referred to as the Unified Planning Work Program (UPWP). The work tasks described in UPWP are conducted on a continuous basis in order to maintain certification and eligibility for Federal highway and transit funds, and to plan for the orderly and efficient development of the transportation system infrastructure. Required by this process is the development of a long-range transportation plan, review and action on the Connecticut short-range transportation improvement program, and a planning work program which includes other planning and project development activities which address transportation issues in the region and in support of extra-regional and/or statewide transportation planning activities. NECCOG provides direct project assistance to towns, pavement condition analysis and the ability top reform traffic counts on roads and trails (we have multiple state-of-the-art counters).
This Long-range Transportation Plan (LRTP) will examine the entire state of transportation in northeastern Connecticut and explore ways in which NECCOG, its member towns, and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (CTDOT) can cultivate transportation systems that are compatible with one another and with regional land use patterns, that support economic activity, job growth, environmental and historic preservation, and quality of life, and that equitably and efficiently serve the region’s nearly 100,000 people.
In 1997 the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Connecticut Department of Transportation (CT DOT) approved the Route 169 National Scenic Byway Corridor Management Plan (CMP). NECCOG is charged with the coordination of the Route 169 advisory committee and the CMP. As the management entity NECCOG has undertaken many initiatives proposed by the original CMP. In 2011 the NECCOG received a grant to conduct an update of the original CMP that includes the development of a Geo Database and review of Historic Resources along the Byway. The CMP update will also address the incorporation of the Livability Principals adopted by FHWA. The CMP update will provide an outline and action plan for both regional organizations and local municipalities to protect and enhance the Route 169 corridor while promoting tourism and economic development.
Human Services Coordinating Council
NECCOG is responsible for encouraging collaboration between the various, dedicated human service organizations in the region, pursuant to Section 17a-760 of the Connecticut General Statutes. The NECCOG Human Services Coordinating Council will begin to meet in 2016 and act as a body that fosters collaboration, innovation, and regionalism amongst elected officials, workforce development boards, non-profit human service organizations of all kinds, other non-profit organizations, and family advocacy groups.
NECCOG is responsible for several elements of emergency management: (1) Local Emergency Preparedness Committee assistance and facilitation – which is made up of the Region’s Emergency Management Directors; (2) Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program coordination. The CERT Program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills as an assist to neighborhoods and emergency responders; (3) Region IV DEMHS assistance; (4) NECCOG assists in the planning and function of Region IV – which provides the network and infrastructure for emergency response; and (5) Natural Disaster Mitigation Planning and Maintenance developed in accordance with FEMA guidelines and regulations and intended to reduce or mitigate the impacts of natural hazards on the Region.
Regional, State and Federal Relations
The actions/activities of the Legislature, State Government, Congress and Federal Government have impacts on the member towns of NECCOG. Developing and maintaining a relationship with officials is critical so that they can understand NECCOG’s priorities and we can understand theirs. It has been NECCOG’s approach to be proactive in addressing initiatives put forth at either the state or federal level and to also put forth proposals that address the needs of our member towns. Current activities include:
Tribal Recognition – NECCOG became involved in the potential recognition of two Native American groups in 2000. Since that time, we have actively participated both as a party to specific applications and most recently proposals by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to modify the tribal recognition process. Our most recent comments, in part, state the following:
NECCOG firmly supports a fair, robust federal acknowledgement process that provides recognition for those petitioners who can demonstrate the distinct, historic cultural and political authority of their tribes. To weaken those requirements would allow groups to receive recognition who are unable to demonstrate that core criteria. In so doing, the BIA could cause significant harm to NECCOG’s members and other local towns and landowners. Indeed, it is hard to conceive of a more significant event with permanent costs to local governments. In Connecticut, the consequences to towns and landowners near federally recognized tribes are often momentous and incalculable. Towns near federally recognized tribes have experienced the loss of tax base, the potential for land claims against private landowners, and loss of regulatory control over land. Coupled with the loss of revenue and regulatory control, these towns have also experienced increased burdens on town infrastructure and services, including to schools, roads and public safety needs.
MORE Commission – The Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies (MORE) Commission was established to examine and make recommendations regarding the efficient and more effective delivery of services by the state and its municipal governments. NECCOG is an active participant with the MORE Commission and its several working groups including the Regional Entities and Special Education working groups.
NECCOG regularly provides member towns with Census and other demographic data to support grant applications, economic initiatives, program compliance and other purposes
NECCOG, on an ongoing basis, provides individualized problem solving assistance for its member towns. Town officials can contact NECCOG with any question, problem or request for technical assistance. Examples of NECCOG’s member assistance covers a wide range of issues that may develop for one or more of the member towns. These have have included: FOI training; grant assistance; assistance with state/federal agencies; town hall management assessment including job descriptions; economic development assistance; research; state or local road traffic counts; board/commission training; regulation review and drafting, by-law development, legislative proposals; smart growth workshops; census and other demographic data; planning and meeting facilitation. NECCOG is continually monitoring the needs of our members and are committed to providing our member towns with cost-effective programs and services required to meet the needs of their communities.
NECCOG, since its creation in 1987, has grown in terms of programs and services offered and in the size/complexity of our budget. Currently, NECCOG administers approximately $1.7 million annually (both NECCOG and Transit) and manages approximately 27 employees. The proper administration of NECCOG is critical to the overall effectiveness of the organization in realizing its mission.