Changes in region's council of governments

Norwich - The towns of Windham and Lebanon will most likely become the newest members of the region's council of governments, while Voluntown will leave to join the northeastern council.

The reshuffling would bring in more revenue for the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments, because the council would gain a town and represent a larger population overall.

The state, which is pushing for fewer and larger regional planning agencies, will pay more under a formula set to go into effect a year from now. Starting in 2015, the state will pay councils of governments $125,000, plus 50 cents for each person, with additional payments for councils that had voluntarily consolidated.

The state Office of Policy and Management has been recommending new boundaries for local planning regions and offering incentives for voluntary consolidation under a new law. In October, the state completed a report analyzing the boundaries.

As a result, the state has redesignated Lebanon and Windham to southeastern Connecticut. The two towns, up till now members of the Windham Region Council of Governments, are now eligible to join SCCOG, according to state letters to the towns' officials.

Lebanon is a 55-square -mile town with about 7,300 residents. Windham is 28 square miles with more than 25,000 residents, according to OPM.

Meanwhile, Voluntown, a SCCOG member town, has petitioned to join Northeastern Connecticut's planning region, the letters stated. The 40-square-mile town had a population of 2,603 residents in 2010, according to OPM.

OPM Spokesman Gian-Carl Casa said Friday the statewide process to consolidate the planning areas is moving forward. Recently, the state approved a merger between the Housatonic Valley Council of Elected Officials and South Western Regional Planning Agency into the Western Connecticut Council of Governments.

The Litchfield Hills Council of Elected Officials and the Northwestern Connecticut Council of Governments agreed to join together last summer. In other parts of the state, several towns are shuffling to new planning regions, similar to the Southeastern Connecticut case, he said.

In 2011, the Midstate and Connecticut River Estuary regions had joined into the Lower Connecticut River Valley Planning Region, according to OPM's October study of the boundaries.

Towns slated for redesignation can petition the state up to 30 days after notification. To appeal, the towns would schedule a meeting to present their objections to the state, according to OPM study.

The state's new boundaries will go into effect in January 2015.

k.drelich@theday.com

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