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Deal on City Budget Close

By Jeffrey B. Cohen

May 31, 2009

Mayor Eddie A. Perez has reduced his budget's proposed tax rate increase by one mill, and it looks as though the opposition to the budget on the city council is beginning to wane.

"I have new information that I provided to the city council about the revenue side of things," Perez said Sunday. "And I've informed the council that that's equal to a mill. I've asked the president of the council to support that."

Councilman Matt Ritter -- who has previously said he would not support the most recent $535,768,191 budget with a 5.44 mill increase -- called Cityline earlier Sunday morning to say the same thing.

"We spoke briefly and I asked him, 'Have you gone down a mill?'" Ritter said. "I said, if that's the case, I can vote on the budget."

Ritter was one of five on the council who were previously leaning against the budget. Councilman Kenneth Kennedy, who also has said he would not vote for anything higher than a three mill increase, said in an interview Sunday that he'd consider a 4.44 mill increase.

"If you start at the premise that he was at nine mills and we were at zero, we divided it by two," Ritter said.

The council must still vote to approve the deal. The deadline is midnight tonight.

"I hope they have five or six, maybe even seven votes," Perez said.

As the deadline approaches, the tone of the budget discussions has gotten increasingly intense.

Now, the rhetoric seems to be softening.

"The council president is going to be submitting a mill decrease as we worked it out with him to the council," Perez said. "I've worked with everybody and I asked Matt [Ritter] to be part of the majority."

Reprinted with permission of the CityLine blog of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the CityLine at http://blogs.courant.com/cityline/ and the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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