To the editor:
The Darien First Selectman [Jayme Stevenson, a Republican] sent a letter to our legislative delegation expressing her concern regarding “a new financial burden” being placed on towns and municipalities with respect to, “the state shifting the burden for the disposal of unclaimed bodies from the state to cities and towns.”
In her letter, the first selectman calls this action a “new municipal mandate which shifts the burden for the logistics and disposition of unclaimed decedents to municipalities.”
It’s important to set the record straight. This responsibility is not new — it is and has been the responsibility of the local municipalities. The state, however, has historically been performing these duties for cities and towns for years.
As Connecticut Mirror reporter Keith Phaneuf states in his May 26 column, “though state law makes cities and towns responsible for final disposition of unclaimed decedents in their jurisdiction, this has not been enforced for years but rather handled by the state.”
Perhaps in good financial times this was something the state could afford to do. Today with bipartisan calls to address the deficit by reigning in spending, this is one service that unfortunately cannot be performed by the state any longer.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner stated that there were 100 unclaimed decedents statewide per year. There are 169 municipalities in the state. Assuming the number of unclaimed decedents was found to be equally distributed, that’s less than one decedent per year per municipality.
Undoubtedly, there will be more tough decisions to be made in Hartford in the years to come. These decisions need to be made thoughtfully with all of the facts in hand, so we can avoid this type of incorrect information being disseminated. Learning, knowing and understanding the facts are key for Darien to have a respected voice in Hartford.
As your state representative, I will make sure both the Darien first selectman and the mayor of Norwalk are fully informed and understand the implications of any legislation before it is enacted and after. This will mitigate any misconceptions and misunderstandings such as this one.
Editor’s note: Randy Klein is the Democratic nominee for state representative for the 141st district, opposing incumbent Republican Terrie Wood.