Hartford budget shortfall grows to $22 million - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Hartford budget shortfall grows to $22 million

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Mayor Luke Bronin is seeking help from a state panel after he projected a $22 million budget shortfall. (WFSB photo) Mayor Luke Bronin is seeking help from a state panel after he projected a $22 million budget shortfall. (WFSB photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

The City of Hartford is getting deeper into the red.

Mayor Luke Bronin sought help on Thursday from the state Municipal Finance Advisory Commission after he projected a $22 million budget shortfall.

Bronin said drastic cuts and layoffs are on the table.

He also said the city can't raise the 74.29 mill rate. It's by far the highest in the state.

The Hartford City Council approved a $552 million budget this past spring for this fiscal year. It already included dozens of layoffs and required $15 million in union concessions.

About 100 city positions have been cut, along with badly needed programs, and there have been cuts to the police force. There were 500 officers, now there are only 380.

Frozen wages, changed co-pays and modified health plan deductibles were discussed and could be on the table for union negotiations.

The city has been in financial turmoil for months.

A number of legal problems haven't helped.

It has had to foot legal settlements and services for the yet-to-be-completed Dunkin' Donuts Park.

Mayor Bronin is asking members of the Municipal Finance Advisory Board to look at the city's books and help get them out crisis. 

Chrystal Clements helps her family run Stellas, a new Hartford restaurant downtown. She says people who live in Hartford can't be taxed anymore, and she's already seen the effect of layoffs, from the state and the city.

"People in the area constantly coming in, I see them at the grocery store and I ask why I haven't seen them. They say they were laid off and aren't in the area anymore,” Clements said.

Many who live in the city are poor, and a majority do not own their own homes. That hurts the tax base, as well as the fact that more than half of the property in Hartford is tax exempt.

"There’s a limit to how much you can tax before you strangle a city and a limit to how much you can cut before you hollow out a city,” Bronin said.

The city's numbers are sobering…the deficit will continue to grow, $22 million now, and the mayor projects $55 million in just five years.

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