May 24, 2007
By DANIEL E. GOREN, Courant Staff Writer
Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez returned the city's budget to the city council Wednesday, making no additional changes to its $511 million spending plan.
Council President John Bazzano said he expects to formally adopt the budget on Tuesday, at the council's next regular meeting.
Perez described the budget process as a joint effort with the council. He said the final plan enabled him to stick to his core priorities for the city, despite financial constraints.
"It's a tough but fair spending plan," the mayor said Wednesday.
"It enables us to squeeze the most we can out of every dollar we spend in this city."
"There was a lot of give and take in this budget," he said. "But we made it happen without sacrificing any of the essential services to the community, and keeping the mill rate flat."
With hundreds of small businesses in Hartford facing sharp increases to their tax bills, the city council was under great pressure to slim down the mayor's initial $517 million spending plan.
The council cut $6.1 million from the mayor's recommended budget - about 1 percent - by reducing increases to post-employment benefits, electrical costs, debt service payments and by implementing a limited hiring freeze on non-public-safety personnel.
An additional $5 million in revenue anticipated by city officials also enabled the council to lower Perez's proposed tax rate by about 4 percent, from 61.1 mills to 58.55 mills.
The council also agreed to pass an additional $10 million to $11 million of anticipated education cost-sharing money from the state to the board of education.
This year, Hartford's small businesses stand to get slammed with big tax bills, in some cases three times higher than last year. The problem stems from a 2006 revaluation of city property that saw values soar, particularly for residential property owners. A subsequent effort to protect homeowners left small businesses taking the biggest hit.
The city council made its cuts in order to limit spending. But it also made a plea to the General Assembly for permission to delay the revaluation, saying it needed time to study the negative impact on small-business owners, many of whom say the rise in taxes could force them to close.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at