New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart on Wednesday hosted the first of what is expected to be numerous meetings with union negotiators in response to her announcement that there is better than a 50-50 chance that she will lay off some of the 500 city employees.
“We have a $23.5 million deficit from now until June 30,” said Stewart, a first-term mayor. “Then, starting the new fiscal year, July 1, we’re projected into the $33 million range.”
Among the options: dipping into the city’s $12.5 million rainy day fund and job furloughs.
“Taking a furlough day once a week, perhaps, from now until the end of the year,” said Stewart. “Still, you have to calculate how much money in savings that would actually generate. … Every day I’ve been in my office with the finance team just buried in numbers up to my ears and trying to figure out all avenues of how to make this work.”
Stewart presents her budget recommendations to the city’s Common Council April 9. The final budget must be adopted by June 6. Prior to a final budget being passed, the city will host a public hearing.
Café Beauregard, which opened on Main Street in December, has experienced a 40 percent to 50 percent bump in business since President Barack Obama dined at the restaurant earlier this month. The owner says job cuts would stem, not stop, their momentum.
“I’m sure politicians, as a rule, don’t like laying people off,” said Rob Chiovoloni, Chef and Owner of Café Beauregard.
Several city employees declined an interview request, but one, who is a lifelong New Britain resident and wished to remain anonymous, says he recommends a tax increase over layoffs.