Drastic measures are being taken to solve Hartford’s budget crisis.
The Hartford City Council has adopted a budget that includes at least dozens of layoffs and requires millions in union concessions. The council and the mayor have been looking at a number of ways to cut back.
Some feel the city is at a disadvantage with revenue and while the state has its own problems, it still needs to be more supportive.
"The only way we can get out of the mess is to cut our way out with budget cuts. That we are doing but we are still not out of it because we still have to provide services to our taxpayers,” said City Councilor Cynthia Jennings.
The $552 million budget adopted by the council on Monday night attempts to close the deficit with layoffs, at least 40 spread out across several city departments, and seeks more than $15 million in concessions from union workers, including freezing wages, changes in co-pays, and deductibles in health plans, as well as higher premiums.
The city’s budget director said Hartford is at a real disadvantage, as more than half of the city’s properties are tax exempt. To add to that, the state doesn’t fulfill its financial obligations.
Melissa McCaw, Hartford’s budget director, said the city is filled with commuters and the demand for more services, yet it’s the city’s taxpayer who get stuck paying the bill.
"We heavily rely on our pilot revenues and we are unlike other municipalities where we cannot increase our mill rate --- and the state has to play a role in that,” McCaw said.
Raising taxes is really not an option. The city’s mill rate is nearly 75, which is the highest in the state.
Eyewitness News reached out to the president of the Hartford Firefighters Union to get their reaction to the budget, however they did not return phone calls.
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