Hartford gets a bailout. What now?

The city of Hartford will meet the deadline for its next loan payment of $12 million thanks to a bailout from the state. The total agreement between the city and state is expected to settle Hartford’s general obligation debt of $550 million over at least the next two decades.

This will keep the city out of bankruptcy, however, state lawmakers are threatening to reduce other city funding after claiming to have misunderstood the terms of the agreement. “We believe the Contract violates the spirit of the historic bipartisan budget that was adopted this past fall. The agreement between legislative leaders and the understanding of legislators who voted for the budget was to provide Hartford two years of additional financial assistance with the goal of helping our capital city get back on its feet. Lawmakers did not vote to pay off more than $500 million in Hartford’s debt over a period of 20 years,” said State Republican Leaders, Len Fasano and Themis Klarides.

In response, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said, “If Republican leaders regret the long-term partnership they embraced last fall, they should have the courage to call for our Capital City to file bankruptcy, because that's the only responsible long-term alternative to the partnership they supported last fall."

With at least two years of loan payments guaranteed, Mayor Bronin told FOX 61, the city is still focused on growth and attracting more businesses. “If you look around the country at those states seeing real economic growth. That growth is being driven by cities, but that growth is helping lift up communities of every size around them,” said Bronin.

In the last few months, the city has celebrated Infosys bringing hundreds of new jobs to Hartford, the renovation of two downtown buildings that sat vacant for decades and the Albany Avenue Streetscape Project.

Hartford also welcomed another new business on Pratt Street this month. “Painting with a Twist,” owner, Stephen Richmond is a Bloomfield resident, but said, he sees potential in Hartford. “When it came down to it, I thought, Hartford needs it,” said Richmond.

With a focus on growth, Bronin said, the city’s budget will remain tight and tough, especially with Hartford’s unique financial situation. It’s a small city, roughly 17 square miles and can barely generate revenue because half the property is occupied by buildings that can't be taxed.

“It's a structure that's not built to work. That basic structural problem was made worse by attempts to just fake it and push out debt payments and raise taxes that you just can't grow.”