Econsult Solutions, the economic consulting company hired by Mansfield to conduct an impact report on the effect that Next Generation Connecticut will have on Mansfield, presented their preliminary expectations for their report at a town hall meeting Monday night.
Specifically, the report will discuss the economic and fiscal benefits of Next Gen CT, as well as the local service, school and infrastructure impacts. The report will also look at the impact on intergovernmental revenues and collaboration opportunities for Mansfield and the University of Connecticut.
In addition to exploring future scenarios, the report will analyze the local impact of the previous infrastructure initiative, UConn 2000/21st Century.
Town Council member Virginia Raymond expressed concerns about past and current infrastructure issues that were supposed to be addressed during UConn 2000/21st Century, which lasted from 1995 to 2014.
UConn 2000/21st Century was specifically an infrastructure initiative in order to address the “number of facilities that had degraded to the point where it was embarrassing,” said Raymond. In her question to Enconsult’s Senior Vice President Lee Huang, Raymond wanted to know how the existing infrastructure problems affect the allocation of funds provided through Next Gen CT.
Huang stated that while Raymond raised a valid point, the purpose of the report is to analyze trends presented by previous initiatives, with a focus on fiscal and economic impacts. Using these trends, Econsult will create a model depicting how Next Gen CT will affect the town.
With the recent talk of cutting the state allocations for higher education, concern was raised about the possibility of a slashed UConn budget affecting the goals of Next Gen CT.
When UConn initially brought this concern to the town council, they said “if the budget flat lines or goes south, Next Gen CT might not happen or look like what they said it would,” Deputy Mayor Paul Shapiro said.
Council members Antonia Moran and Virginia Raymond also echoed worries about the impact of a budget cut on Next Gen CT, especially with an increase in university enrollment and the capacity of the town to meet the demands of a growing population.
Huang responded that the report would illustrate several different scenarios, including the possibility of a UConn budget cut. However, he also brought up the point that neither UConn nor Mansfield will know truly what the final impact that Next Gen CT will have until it is completed, nor what the fiscal climate will be when it’s enacted.
The Econsult report is scheduled to be completed in May, and further town council meetings will be held throughout the process to discuss Next Gen CT.