Other communities may need to help Hartford pay sewer bill - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Other communities may need to help Hartford pay sewer bill

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Hartford’s financial problems could be a burden for several other towns.

The Metropolitan District, which handles the city's sewer treatment, says there's a strong possibility that Hartford won't be able to pay its share, and they may have to pass the cost onto seven surrounding towns.

Hartford has been struggling financially for years, but everything came out in the open this year when the city's new mayor appealed to state lawmakers for help...even saying bankruptcy may be an option.

The city is facing a $25 million shortfall this year, possibly $50 million next year, which could impact its ability to pay its sewer bill.

"We met with the towns, we explained to them what we are taking about…that there is going to have to be a plan that they pay a percentage of the shortfall,” said William DiBella, the MDC board chairman.

DiBella said the MDC must prepare if Hartford goes under.

While he said the board has not approved any agreement, there is a proposal to increase fees to seven surrounding towns to cover Hartford if it can't pay the $11 million it owes yearly.

For West Hartford, it could mean an increase of $3.5 million, and for East Hartford, nearly $2 million.

In a statement, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said "we're going to do everything we can to get Hartford on the path to fiscal sustainability, but it's going to take fundamental changes at the state level this year." 

Since he took office this year, Bronin has been saying half of Hartford’s property is non-taxable, far less taxable property than some of its smaller suburban neighbors.  

Hartford’s financial woes have hurt the city's bond rating, and the MDC said it is hurting theirs as well...and they can't just wait to see what Hartford’s mayor is going to do. 

"He's going to have to have a plan. Chapter nine if he does, or goes to the legislature they will say to him ‘what's your solution, how do you get out of this’,” DiBella said.

Towns are faced with significant higher sewer costs. West Hartford’s town manager says it could force cuts in services or even higher taxes something no one wants.

The board is expected to vote on this plan in mid-December.

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