Mayor releases the budget proposal for the city of Hartford for the 2018 year and says the capital city faces a massive fiscal crisis.
Luke Bronin submitted his recommended budget for the fiscal year 2018 to the Hartford City Council on Monday afternoon. It's "his second proposed budget since assuming office."
“This budget delivers basic, essential services only," Bronin said in a statement on Monday.
Bronin said the budget is a continuation of last year's that "preserves public safety and keeps education spending flat." There will $18.6 million in reductions made from last year’s fiscal year 2017 adopted budget.
According to Bronin, the budget includes "significant cost increases" in fixed costs such as debt service, pension, and health care. The budget also includes "further service reductions as well as a continued need for labor concessions."
However, Bronin said even with the reductions and labor concessions over the last two years, the proposed budget "relies on a new partnership between the state and the city's largest employers to fill a gap of $49.6 million."
“Last year, we made huge cuts to the City workforce and to services, and while this proposed budget includes more tough reductions, we're reaching the limit of what we can responsibly cut without defaulting on our basic obligations to our residents. With half of the City's property tax-exempt, and with less taxable property than West Hartford, the City of Hartford cannot close a fifty-million-dollar gap without a new partnership with the State of Connecticut," Bronin said.
The "bare bones" budget continues to fund homeless shelters, food pantries, libraries and violence prevention programs.
There will be no layoffs to the more than 1,300 city employees, Bronin said.
"Our departments are running thinner than they should be," Bronin said. "We have already impaired our ability to provide services as well as we should deliver in our capital city."
Currently, Hartford has the highest property taxes in Connecticut and a mill rate of a 74.29.
Bronin stated, "an across-the-board, general property tax increase would drive jobs and businesses out of the City, damaging the City's future fiscal health and growth."
“In today's economy, strong urban centers are vital to economic growth, and Connecticut needs a strong, vibrant Capital City. There will be huge consequences for the region and for the State of Connecticut if we cannot work in partnership to get the City of Hartford on a stable, sustainable fiscal path. We are doing everything we can at the local level to put our house in order, but this is a crisis that can't be solved at the local level alone," Bronin said.
Three big insurance companies committed to $10 million per year for next 5 years. This is not factored into this budget because they're waiting for a commitment from the state first.
Bronin said Hartford needs a new partnership with Connecticut and the capital city can't do it alone.
"If you cut too much, you default on your basic obligations to your residents," Bronin said. "Without the (state) partnership, the crisis can't be addressed on the local level."
Bronin said state should be willing to help bail Hartford out because of the city's huge amount of untaxable property such as hospitals and Hartford's importance to the state.
"We need to be putting this city in a position to grow to be strong to be vibrant to be a generator of jobs and economic development for this state," Bronin said. "But, if we're going to do that it's going to take a new partnership with the state of Connecticut."
To read the full budget proposal, click here.
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