City of Hartford looking for ways to solve budget deficit

HARTFORD — With an estimated $50 million budget deficit next fiscal year, Luke Bronin, Mayor of Hartford, is putting more pressure on the city’s labor unions.

"I’ve said for a while that we have an obligation in the city of Hartford to do everything we can to get our house in order and that means our labor unions have to be a part of that effort,” said Bronin on Friday. "The three big elements in any contract are salary, healthcare, and pension and we’re obviously going to be asking for changes.”

One labor union representing Hartford firefighters has agreed to new terms. Six others are still locked in heated collective bargaining.

AFSCME Local 1716, representing sanitation workers and other utility employees, rejected a contract that would have saved the city millions. .

"Local 1716 members have spoken and rejected the tentative agreement with the city,” said Kenneth Blue, President of local 1716. “We are assessing the next steps to take. We want to protect the vital services our members provide to Hartford residents and businesses."

Hartford is also dealing with an expected drop in state aid as Connecticut deals with its own projected deficit are worth more than $2 billion.

Bronin also blames fewer taxable assets compared to neighboring towns, as a factor in Hartford’s fiscal woes. Bankruptcy remains a very real possibly but city and state leaders said they’re trying to prevent that.

“We’re all going to have to do difficult things and that includes our labor unions,” said Bronin.

The Hartford Common Council will vote on its budget on Monday.