The budget proposed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy would merge the first and second companies of the Governor's Horse Guards.
The line item is listed under the Military Department in Malloy's 2011-12 budget summary, and recommends that the state of Connecticut "combine Governor's Horse Guard units" in order to "reduce funds to reflect a phase-out of costs associated with operating two separate units."
“The intention is to consolidate the two,” Gian-Carl Casa, the state's undersecretary for legislative affairs in the Office of Policy Management, said Monday.
Combining the of Avon and the Second Company Horse Guards of Newtown would save the state $78,632 in fiscal year 2011-12, the budget summary projects, as well as an additional $141,501 in 2012-13.
The First Company was established in 1778 and chartered in 1788, and the Second Company was chartered in 1808. Initially, the Second Company would escort the governor from New Haven to Middletown and the the First Company would take over from there to Hartford, according to the Second Company's Web site. Each unit usually is currently allocated slightly under $80,000 a year, Major Michael Downes of the First Company Governor's Horse Guards, said.
The consolidation would save money on food for the horses, veterinary, other horse care costs and some staffing.
"Additionally, there is a full-time and a part-time Agricultural Worker associated with each Horse Guard," Casa wrote in an e-mail to Patch on Tuesday. "One part-time position’s funding is eliminated beginning July 1, 2011 and a full-time position has funding for three quarters of fiscal year 2012 and no funding for fiscal year 2013."
That depends on if the entire budget proposal for the next fiscal year is approved.
The budget line item does not indicate how the consolidation would be achieved, but Casa said Monday that it is likely the Second Company would be moved from Newtown to Avon, though nothing has been officially decided at this time. But it is ultimately up to the Military Department to decide "which facility they continue to operate, which Horse Guard to phase out, and how to handle where the horses go," Casa wrote in the e-mail.
"We are cutting the number of Horse Guards from two to one. We are phasing out one unit in FY 2012 so the state’s military department can find placement for the horses or move some of them to the other unit," Casa wrote in the e-mail. "How the consolidation occurs is ultimately up to the Military Department."
Casa, echoing the budget summary, explained that the idea is to "phase out" having two separate operations and "move gradually over" to one unit.
Major Michael Downes of the The First Company Governor's Horse Guards declined to comment on the ramifications of the possible merger, but he did say, on a separate note, that when the First Company's equestrian search and rescue training is over, his unit may qualify for further grant funding. He said that 25 of the First Company Governor's Horse Guards are scheduled to complete training in April, after months of delay because of the high snowfall this year.
“This is not only meant to be vital resource for state,” Downes said. “It will hopefully qualify us for grant funds and other resources that will enable us to rely on state funding for everything much less than we do now.”
The First Company Governor’s Horse Guards paid for search and rescue training out of pocket, Downes told Patch in December. Grants and private funding already cover the cost of horses and uniforms, he said Monday.
Downes said that he has not heard how state plans on combining the First and Second Company Governor's Horse Guards if the proposal is approved. The new budget, once approved, will go into effect on July 1, 2011.
"There is a section of the governor's proposed budget under the military section that says 'combine [Governor's] Horse Guard units,' Downes said. "It doesn’t say where or how."