Hartford adopts budget, and then waits

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HARTFORD – Amid a looming budget crisis in the state, the City of Hartford next in line to get its finances in line as it faces a nearly $50 million deficit.

Hartford City Council adopted at $612.9 million budget for fiscal year 2017-18, Monday. The city is now awaiting state aid.

Last week, city council amended the Mayor’s Recommended General Fund Budget, Capital Improvement Program and Tax Levy, through a series of resolutions. Mayor Luke Bronin vetoed five of those resolutions and partially vetoed a sixth.

The Mayor’s actions include reducing the allocation to Hartford Public Access from $49,960 to $34,371.

In a letter to council Mayor Bronin wrote, “Given the recent significant grant received by HPATV, as well as their recent technology purchase, I do not believe it is appropriate for the City of Hartford to support additional investments at this time … I believe HPATV should be able to continue its standard operations.”

This action raised concerns by council members but ultimately it did not get enough votes to override the veto.

All of Mayor Bronin’s other vetoed items did not get enough votes for an override. It would need support from at least seven council members.

Other vetoed items include:

-Providing allocation of $16,650 to Upper Albany Block by Block

-Providing allocation of $35,000 to CT Coalition for Environmental Justice

-Providing $300,000 of CIP funding to be used to subsidize the establishment of small business; re-establish marking as a core part of the DDS and create a public art program.

-Increasing special event overtime allocation in Police Dept. by $50,000. The solution by Mayor Bronin was to use a portion of the $117,000 overtime allocation which was a council action for reduction.

“Having spoken with those representatives from some of those respective organizations we are wholeheartedly committed to making sure that whatever money is reduced is going to be restored back, whatever money was zeroed out will be given back to them,” Hartford City Council President T.J. Clarke said.

The budget was passed without raising taxes. It contains $612.9 million in expenditures and $563.3 million in revenues creating a gap of $49.6 million.

Mayor Bronin is seeking nearly $40 million from the state, in order to balance the budget,  through money that the state pays to the city on its tax-exempt properties.

The city is also relying on a conditional gift from the city’s major insurance companies of $10 million a year, for five years.

Finally, city leaders are waiting on union concessions. 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.

“We have done our job now, we passed a budget which has a flat mil rate,” Clarke said. “Now it's up to our friends with the Hartford delegation at the state capitol to hope that we actually get the money we need to actually help us financially.”

Mayor Bronin has said bankruptcy is a possibility but Clarke said he remains optimistic.