SOUTHINGTON — A town councilor is hoping colleagues will support his resolution opposing tolls on state highways.
Tom Lombardi, a Republican, said town government’s opposition to tolls could help sway state legislators.
“It’s the biggest issue,” he said. “I don’t even think it’s a Democrat-Republican issue. Everyone I talk to is against tolls. The time is now to take a stand on it. If we don’t speak up now, when are we going to speak up?”
The resolution states that Southington residents already pay higher taxes and fees than residents in other parts of the country. Chris Palmieri, council chairman and a Democrat, agreed to put the item on the March 25 agenda.
“The residents of Southington pay a gas tax each time they purchase fuel for their vehicle. Tolls would be a financial burden to the residents of Southington,” Lombardi wrote. “Town Council of the Town of Southington is opposed to the imposition of tolls on its residents and urges its elected representatives in the State Legislature to oppose any measure that would impose tolls on our constituents.”
State House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, a Democrat representing Southington and Berlin, called the resolution a “political maneuver and it’ll be viewed as such.”
“It’s extremely disappointing,” Aresimowicz added. “I’ve worked very hard over the past 14 years to ensure that Southington has gotten its fair share of funding.”
He defended tolls as necessary to keep the state competitive.
Aresimowicz also said that Southington had received state money for its own roads.
“I wonder what it would be if we took all the road money from Southington to keep the highways, how that would be received,” he said.
Aresimowicz also questioned why the town was involving itself in a state issue. Lombardi said it was an important issue that affects every resident either directly through the tolls or through increased prices.
Palmieri said he’s asked state legislators about reimbursement for the increased use of local roads if tolls are implemented and residents attempt to avoid highways.
“That would be a direct impact to the town,” Palmieri said.
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