Cash-strapped Hartford sees labor union reject money-saving contract

The I-Team looked into what could happen if Hartford files for bankruptcy (WFSB)

In Hartford, city council members are considering a proposal to keep the fiscal crisis faced by the capital city from expanding.

On Monday, City Council President Thomas Clarke put forth a resolution calling for the mayor to implement a hiring freeze for nearly all departments.

Labor is the biggest expense for just about every business, and while this is not a binding resolution, it certainly sends a message.

“This would exclude fire and police until a time to be determined that the city is on a better financial path,” Clarke said. “It's an important time in our city where we are actually counting every dollar, every cent that is coming into the city and every expense that is going out.”

Michelle Muhammad, whose husband has owned a dental office in Hartford for two decades, supports the hiring freeze.

“If we're struggling financially as a city, I think we certainly should you know have a hiring freeze and look at people who already work for the city, exactly what it is that they're doing making sure that they're efficiently doing their jobs before we look to hire,” Muhammad said.

Though Councilman Larry Deutsch wasn't on board with the proposal, he questioned whether the resolution would enable the city to hire outside consultants to complete work that would have been done by newly hired city workers.

Council members referred the proposal to a committee that will take it up next week.

Should the hiring freeze be passed by the council, Mayor Luke Bronin is not compelled to adhere to it.

Hartford, meanwhile, is mired in a budget hole of nearly $50 million dollars.

In a statement, Bronin said “our departments are running on extremely lean staffing. While I appreciate the spirit of the resolution, failing to refill necessary positions would compromise our ability to manage effectively or deliver basic services to residents, businesses, and visitors."

The City Council is scheduled to go over Hartford’s proposed budget on May 17.

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