Hartford mayor holds private meeting to talk financial crisis

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HARTFORD--On Wednesday night, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin held a closed-door meeting with City Council members, as well as state senators and representatives to discuss Hartford's current financial situation.

'We The People' was the first to break the story on Tuesday.

The city is facing a budget deficit of $32 million or more for the upcoming fiscal year. That deficit is only made worse by the millions of extra dollars the delayed Yard Goats stadium is costing Hartford.

"The city of Hartford is facing severe financial challenges this year," said Mayor Bronin.

The rumored fix involves state oversight.

"The rumors that I've been hearing is that there may be some sort of oversight board in the works," said state Rep. Edwin Vargas.

We asked Mayor Bronin if there is any truth to the rumors, and he said, "I'm not interested in anybody taking over. I want to make sure that we in the city of Hartford, the City Council and myself, have the ability to address the problem in an honest, transparent, direct way."

Mayor Bronin went on to say that "it's not about shifting responsibility," but rather about taking responsibility.

The mayor added that while the city is not interested in a state takeover, but said that Hartford needs to face reality and stop passing imbalanced budgets. He also added that there is a very good chance that there will be layoffs.

Both Mayor Bronin and Representative Vargas agree that the city's current problem stems back to years to budget blunders.

"People have been trying to deal with it by patching the budget together, selling one-time assets," said Vargas. "But, unfortunately, the city is running out of options. So, it seems like it's a pretty tough situation the mayor is facing."

"We are looking out at a future that has larger and larger deficits," said Bronin. "And what we need to do now is make the structural changes that are necessary to get us on a path to growth. That's how we're going to solve the problem in the long run."

Earlier Wednesday, Gov. Dan Malloy sympathized with the mayor's problems.

"I certainly appreciate the difficult situation he's in," said Malloy. "Hartford has struggled for a long period of time. I think there are occasions where there could have been better decisions that it didn't make, but we all have to play the cards we're dealt. He knew what he was running for, and we'll work together."

When asked about the transparency of Wednesday night's meeting, Bronin said he has had many public budget discussions and will have many more, but chose to keep Wednesday's meeting private as they move forward to find a solution. "This is just a chance to sit down, to go through the numbers and to make sure that everyone feels free to throw any brainstorm they want on the table."