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Hartford Mayor Bronin Says State Must Act To Close City's $50 Million Budget Hole

Jeff Cohen
Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin in a file photo.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin will present his budget to the City Council Monday, and he's projecting a $50 million hole. But he said a lack of clarity about the state budget is making the city's job harder. 

Bronin said his budget is bare bones -- this year he cut millions, eliminated dozens of positions, and called for labor concessions, which he's mostly not yet gotten.

And his problem is exacerbated by the fact that half of the city's property is tax exempt.

Even if you figure in the $10 million that three of the city's largest employers have pledged annually for five years, Hartford still has a structural budget problem that only the state can fix, Bronin said.

The governor proposed an additional $35 million for Hartford.

The mayor is hoping legislators send even more his way, and quickly.

"I hope that there's a state budget in place by the beginning of June," he said. "But what is going to be really, really difficult for us is if we begin the next fiscal year -- if we head into July 1 facing a $50 million shortfall and no state budget, it is going to present us with a problem that we simply can't solve at the local level."

Rep. Matt Ritter represents Hartford and is the Democratic majority leader in the state house. He said it's not yet time for alarm, and that while the legislature moves slowly, it will eventually move, and Hartford will likely get additional money.

But it won't be without conditions.

"There will be requirements and strings attached to that so that these things do not come back up in, say, five or 10 years... bonding caps, no question. There may be a spending cap on the city," Ritter said. "There are going to need to be checks and balances [so] that people at the state capitol can feel assured that there are not going to be similar problems down the road."

By charter, the city's budget has to be approved by May 31 -- likely well in advance of any state budget agreement.

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