Lawmakers weigh in on Hartford's debt situation

Hartford City Hall (WFSB file photo)

Leaders from Detroit are coming to Hartford next week to discuss what bankruptcy could mean for a city.

The forum titled "What Does Municipal Bankruptcy Mean and What Can We Learn From Other Cities?” will be held on Oct. 19. The purpose of the event is to "give residents and property owners a chance to hear directly from people with first-hand knowledge of the Chapter 9 process in other cities, so that we can learn from their experiences."

“As we consider all of our options for putting the City of Hartford on a path to sustainability and strength, it’s essential that our residents are a part of that conversation, and we’ve had a number of requests for a more detailed discussion of what bankruptcy would mean for our City. I’m grateful to the Hartford Foundation for convening this forum, which will give residents and property owners a chance to hear directly from people with first-hand knowledge of the Chapter 9 process in other cities, so that we can learn from their experiences. Like my monthly town halls, my hope is that this forum will be another important opportunity for an honest, informed community conversation," Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said in a statement on Tuesday.

The panel discussion comes after the I-Team did a series on how the city of Hartford filing for bankruptcy could be the best thing for our capital city. The I-Team recently traveled to Detroit, MI to speak with the men who led the largest municipal bankruptcy ever and they had a simple message for Hartford: Get on with it.

The following people will be involved on the panel: Don Graves Senior director, corporate community initiatives & relations at Key Bank, former deputy assistant to President Barack Obama and counselor to Vice President Joe Biden. James Diossa, Mayor of Central Falls, RI and former city councilor. Kevyn Orr, partner at the Law Firm of Jones Day, former emergency manager for the City of Detroit.Hartford Foundation for Public Giving President Jay Williams will be the moderator for the event.

“Helping the city face its fiscal challenges will take efforts from all members of our community. As a key convener in the Hartford region, we are pleased to bring together experts and leaders from around the country who have addressed similar issues. We have much to learn from them, and from local residents, business leaders, and philanthropy; their perspectives will help guide the city’s ongoing conversations," Williams said in a statement on Tuesday.

The I-Team talked with Diossa, who took over as mayor after the state forced the city into bankruptcy in 2011, for its series. He told the I-Team that it was a dark time in the city with multiple double-digit tax increases. However, he said things have finally begun to improve.

"Central Falls saw tax increases [and] services cut, but it was an opportunity for the community to turn around, get new leadership, get young people involved and I can tell you now that we're doing much better," Diossa previously told Eyewitness News.

As the debate over how to move forward in Hartford continues, so will the I-Team's Capital City in Crisis series. Here are the other stories in this series: What suburbs can expect from a bankruptcy filing Hartford pension recipients are right to be worried about potential bankruptcy Detroit business leaders say Hartford bankruptcy wouldn't ruin its reputation Bankruptcy could be the best thing for Hartford Rhode Island city's bankruptcy situation mirrors Hartford'sThe event will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Hartford High School on Oct. 19. For more information on the event, click here.

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