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City Council May Not Have Final Vote On Hartford Ballpark

City of Hartford
"It's a check and balance on the fiscal responsibilities and fiscal acts of both the mayor and the council."<br><em>John Kennelly</em>

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has called his plan to move the New Britain Rock Cats to the capital city a "done deal." He's celebrated the plan as both good for Hartford's pride and for its pocketbook.

The city council doesn't necessarily have the final vote, however -- and not everyone likes it. 

"I want to kill it," said Ken Krayeske, a lawyer and city resident. He said there are various opposition groups meeting. "The people that I have spoken with, and met with, are in agreement that we don't think this deal can be improved. It needs to be deep-sixed," he said.

Now, people like Krayeske may have another option. According to the city charter, any improvement over $2 million for which the city borrows money can be pushed to a citywide vote after the council approves it.

"It's a check and balance on the fiscal responsibilities and fiscal acts of both the mayor and the council," said John Kennelly, a lawyer and former city councilman who has served on charter revision commissions. Kennelly said that once the council approves a measure like the one for the new ballpark, residents who oppose it can try to push for a referendum.

To do that, residents have to get the signatures of not less than three percent of the city electors. According to the city's registrar, that's around 1,400 people.

Should they succeed, the city council can either repeal the ordinance, or submit it to referendum at the next general election or later.  

"Not just for this issue," Kennelly said, "but for all issues, it allows the voters to have a direct act voice in the fiscal house of the city of Hartford."

Krayeske said that the people he knows who oppose the new stadium plan haven't spoken about the possibility of a referendum, but they may now. "Mayor Segarra has suggested that he wants full public participation," he said. "Well, then, it might be worthy to bring it to a budget referendum."

The city council is considering the proposal. A public hearing is scheduled for July. 

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