|Councils of governments of Connecticut|
|Location||State of Connecticut|
|Populations||96,196 (Northeastern CT) – 981,447 (Capitol Region)|
|Areas||140.46 square miles (363.8 km2) (Metropolitan) – 1,027.46 square miles (2,661.1 km2) (Capitol Region)|
Councils of governments in Connecticut are organizations that bring together the chief elected officials and/or professional managers from member municipalities in Connecticut. The bodies are meant to aid coordination among neighboring cities and towns, and between the towns and the state government, on issues including land use, zoning, and transportation. They serve some functions analogous to county governments in other states, but have no independent taxing authority (Connecticut disbanded county governments in 1960). Councils of government also host some intermunicipal services based on the needs and voluntary participation of member or client municipalities. Councils, or COGs, receive funding through membership dues, state grants, and federal grants.
In 2019 the state recommended to the United States Census Bureau that the nine Councils of Governments replace eight legacy counties in Connecticut for statistical purposes. This proposal was approved by the Census Bureau in 2022, and will be fully implemented by 2024. In 2015, the State of Connecticut had previously recognized COGs as county equivalents under state law in anticipation of future census recognition, allowing them to apply for funding and grants made available to county governments in other states.
As of 2018[update], Connecticut has 9 regional councils following a series of mergers and realignments between 2013 and 2015. Populations are from the 2010 census. For current membership, see List of towns in Connecticut. Some COGs also serve as either federal metropolitan planning organizations (MPO), rural planning organizations (RPO), or share staff with one or more MPOs/RPOs within their borders; the Western Connecticut COG, for example, supports both the Housatonic Valley MPO and the South Western CT MPO.
The dissolution of county governments in 1960 created an absence of a regionally-oriented governmental level, which created problems when it came to land use and infrastructure planning. Because the power once reserved for county governments was now in the hands of municipal administrations, major land use, environmental, and infrastructure issues often pitted one town against another, resulting in little or no progress on some projects. Complicating this, the state constitution delegates a large portion of the state's authority to the towns. That means a major multi-town project could be completely derailed if only one of the affected towns opposed the project, since the project would require each affected town to issue its own permits for the portions within its territory. This often led to long and costly lawsuits between towns that supported a regional-scale project and those opposed.
In an effort to resolve these conflicts, the State of Connecticut passed legislation in the 1980s establishing fifteen regional councils, which cluster towns with similar demographics into an administrative planning region, in contrast to the old county structure. In 2013, the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management approved a merger of the Connecticut River Estuary and the Midstate planning regions to form the Lower Connecticut River Valley Planning Region.
In 2014 the state Office of Policy and Management (OPM) completed a comprehensive analysis of the boundaries of logical planning regions in Connecticut under Section 16a-4c of the Connecticut General Statutes (2014 Supplement). This analysis resulted in the number of planning regions being reduced from the original fifteen to nine, as a result of four voluntary consolidations and the elimination of two planning regions. As required by statute, the OPM notified the chief executive officer in each municipality that was proposed for redesignation and offered them a thirty day period to appeal the proposed redesignation. Of the seventeen municipalities that were proposed for redesignation by OPM, only three opted to exercise their right to appeal. OPM staff attended meetings in Bristol, Burlington and Plymouth, and subsequently granted each of the appeals.
Unlike county governments, the authority of regional councils is limited to land use policy-making, infrastructure development, emergency preparedness, and long-term planning for population and economic changes for the communities within their respective jurisdiction. The regional councils have no taxing authority; they are financed by funds from the state and member towns.
Regional councils also have some limited law enforcement authority. If approved by the regional council, member towns can put forth a portion of their law enforcement resources to create regional task forces to combat organized crime and drug trafficking. With assistance from the Connecticut State Police and FBI, several regions have established such task forces. The Northern Connecticut Gang Task Force, Bridgeport Violent Crimes Task Force, and New Haven Safe Streets Gang Task Force are examples. Individual law enforcement agencies contributing resources to these regional task forces retain their original identities, rather than assuming the identity of the regional task force.
Connecticut’s planning regions provide a geographic framework within which municipalities can jointly address common interests, and coordinate such interests with state plans and programs. State statutes authorize the secretary of the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) to designate or redesignate the boundaries of logical planning regions, whereas the member municipalities of each planning region are authorized under separate state statutes to establish a formal governance structure known as a regional council of governments (RCOG).
Several similar regional agencies exist, including federally designated metropolitan planning organizations. These include several dual purpose agencies or continuing organizations that were once designated state regional planning agencies. Several may be consolidated in the future.
||FIPS code||Council of governments (COG)
||Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO)||Largest city/town (by population)||Executive Director||Population (2022)||Area||Map|
|Capitol Planning Region||110||Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG)||(Same)||Hartford||Matthew Hart||981,447||—||
|Greater Bridgeport Planning Region||120||Connecticut Metropolitan Council of Governments (MetroCOG)||Greater Bridgeport and Valley MPO||Bridgeport||Matthew Fulda||327,286||—||
|Lower Connecticut River Valley Planning Region||130||Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCOG)||(Same)||Middletown||Samuel S. Gold||176,622||—||
|Naugatuck Valley Planning Region||140||Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments (NVCOG)||Central Naugatuck MPO||Waterbury||Rick Dunne||454,083||—||
|Northeastern Connecticut Planning Region||150||Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (NECCOG)||(Same/Rural Planning Region)||Killingly||John Filchak||96,196||—||
|Northwest Hills Planning Region||160||Northwest Hills Council of Governments (NHCOG)||(Same/Rural Planning Region)||Torrington||Robert A. Phillips||113,234||—||
|South Central Connecticut Planning Region||170||South Central Regional Council of Governments (SCRCOG)||(Same)||New Haven||Carl J. Amento||573,244||—||
|Southeastern Connecticut Planning Region||180||Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG)||(Same)||Norwich||Amanda E. Kennedy||280,403||—||
|Western Connecticut Planning Region||190||Western Connecticut Council of Governments (WestCOG)||South Western CT MPO &
Housatonic Valley MPO
The United States Census Bureau formally recognized the planning regions/councils of government as county equivalents in the Federal Register on June 6, 2022. A draft notice of potential recognition would have adapted the existing FIPS codes for the eight "legacy counties", however in response to submitted comments, the bureau retired the codes and assigned new ones to more clearly illustrate the break in geographic continuity. The Census noted that there is substantial correlation between the historic county borders and planning regions, however planning regions may incorporate towns from several counties. The bureau notes that the recognition of planning regions as county equivalents was unique to the specific conditions in Connecticut, and would not constitute a binding precedent on similar conditions in other states.
These regional planning agencies existed prior to the realignment beginning in 2013:
Connecticut has a number of informal regions that have no governmental unit associated with them, although may generally correspond to a regional planning agency or council of government boundary.