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Deutsch Don't Pay That

By Jeffrey B. Cohen

July 15, 2009

Faced with crushing budget deficits late last year, the city council agreed that each of its members would give back $1,000 of their $15,000 stipends to help the city balance its books.

All of them did but one - Minority Leader Larry Deutsch, of the Working Families Party.

Deutsch said it's not that he forgot to pay or couldn't pay. He didn't pay, he said, because he didn't think it fair to ask for a roughly seven percent reduction in salary when, in his view, the city's highly-paid staff hasn't been asked to do the same.

"The operative word here is proportionality," said Deutsch, who has tried to get reductions in the salaries of highly paid managers at city hall. Deutsch said he has long advocated for "shared, proportional sacrifice."

In March, Perez announced that the city's non-union staff would take a series of pay reductions and benefits cuts - including the mayor, department heads, and deputy department heads.

"If someone can convince me that the category or people which I listed gave up the equivalent of seven percent, then I'll say that's just great and all this would be moot," Deutsch said.

So this week, he did what he said he had planned to do for a while - he set up an escrow account and at the Hartford Municipal Employees Federal Credit Union and deposited $2,100 in it, or just over two years worth of contributions. He's hoping others - the mayor, four of his aides, all department heads, and the city council - will do the same.

Below is the text of his proposal.



"Officials and Executives Escrow for the General Fund of the City of Hartford"

Recognizing that the City of Hartford is attempting to close a budget gap for Fiscal Years 2008 - 2009, and 2009 - 2010, and that the Administration of the City has asked all departments to reduce their budgets by approximately 15 percent, and that the City's Court of Common Council members have expressed a wish to contribute $9,000 (approximately seven (7) percent of the salary of each Council member) to help meet the 15 percent goal with the given understanding that such contributions would be matched by similar sacrifice with contributions from executive members of the Administration and other Departments.

There is established an Escrow Account ("Officials and Executives Escrow for the General Fund of the City of Hartford") for the purpose of accepting contributions towards the General Fund of the City as follows:

Contributions to be in the amount of seven percent (7%) of annual salary as listed in annual Budget documents, from the following contributors:

From members of the Court of Common Council;

From certain full-time employees of the Office of the Mayor (Mayor, Chief of Staff, Director of Communications, Director of Constituent Services, Capital Projects Manager);

From City of Hartford Department Heads.

Collected funds to be held in Escrow until eighty percent (80%) of total goal (as summed from calculated contributions from above) is reached, whereupon the sum shall be released to the General Fund of the City of Hartford. In the event of failure to reach said goal within ten (10) months of inception of this Escrow account (16 May 2010), funds will be returned to contributor

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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