Hartford officials look for solutions to combat budget shortfall - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Hartford officials look for solutions to combat budget shortfall

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The city of Hartford is facing a huge budget shortfall and may reach out to the state for help. (WFSB) The city of Hartford is facing a huge budget shortfall and may reach out to the state for help. (WFSB)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

The city of Hartford is facing a huge budget shortfall and may reach out to the state for help.

While the city has a new mayor, he has inherited a financial mess.

However, the state has its own financial problems so the city will have to be creative on what can be done.

"We are still in our budget development so I am not going to use numbers ---but its tens of millions of dollars,” said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin.

He said there could be cuts across the board and layoffs, but even that may not be enough to get the city’s financial house in order.

There are some options-- the most extreme would be a state take-over or oversight. That happened to Waterbury back in 2001, and things got better but Waterbury had to pay off deficit bonds.

State Rep. Matt Ritter said the city could also give less in pension contributions but that would require legislation.

"This is my sixth year at the state Capitol and every single year the administration comes to the state Capitol looking for relief in some way,” Ritter said.

"Clearly Mayor Bronin has stepped into a difficult situation in Hartford. That should not be a surprise to anyone,” Gov. Dannel Malloy said.

Hartford has lost property tax revenue, after a reevaluation, and they lost big tenant United Technologies when it moved its headquarters out of the city.

Former city councilor Ken Kennedy said the budget has always been a struggle but the city should be in control.

"The people elected a government and that government should be able to make decisions. I don't like the narrative ‘Hartford couldn't solve its own financial issues’,” Kennedy said.

A meeting was held on Wednesday night for officials to discuss the matter. The city’s budget is due on April 18.

Bronin said he won't predict just exactly how large the deficit will be, but he estimates it will exceed $30 million.

"We've got to face it now, we've got to face the reality of the gap and we've got to find some responsible ways to close it so we can get this city on the path to growth," Bronin said.

No conclusions were drawn from the meeting on Wednesday, and the suggestions do not include a state takeover or even state oversight.

Despite a lack of specifics, Bronin said the meeting was a step forward.

"Everybody in that room wants to do what's in the best interest of Hartford and everybody in that room knows the city of Hartford faces a severe budget challenge. It was a serious discussion, a good open discussion about the challenges we face about a range of options," Bronin added.

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