Four Scenarios Laid Out For Hartford City Council To Shore Up Budget Deficit
March 18, 2010
The good news at Thursday's budget workshop was that the projected deficit that a month ago sat at $40 million has been scaled back in recent weeks. The city's schools stepped up to make $10 million in cuts and city officials have identified several million dollars more to reduce the overall projected deficit to $26.7 million.
The bad news was then laid out to the city council and Mayor Eddie A. Perez in four scenarios aimed at filling that gap.
The first scenario included $9.9 million in revenues by increasing the city's tax rate by 2.9 mills, eliminating a $7.8 million payment to the city's pension fund, eliminating a proposed $5 million increase in educational spending and $4 million in union concessions.
The second scenario included $14.6 million in revenue by increasing the tax rate by 4.3 mills, $7.1 million in savings by closing city hall on Fridays, reducing the pension payment by $3.9 million and $1 million in union concessions.
The third scenario included $12.3 million in revenue by increasing the tax rate by 3.6 mills, increasing projected revenue from the state and licenses and permits by $3 million and $2 million respectively, reducing educational spending by $2.5 million and laying off 57 non-public safety city employees for a $3 million savings.
The final scenario included taking $8 million of the city's $16.3 million "rainy day" fund, eliminating the pension fund and educational spending increases and laying off the same number of city employees.
For many on the council, the scenarios raised many questions: Does the city council have the authority not to fund the pension fund? Who would get laid off? How much of a tax increase can residents and businesses afford before they start leaving the city?
Much of the ensuing discussion centered on trying to find a way to balance the pain that will come from the difficult decisions that must be made, and sparing residents and businesses as much as possible.
Leadership Greater Hartford's Ted Carroll, who led the workshop, summed it up for the council.
"There are at least four and closer to a million ways to do this," he said, "but none of them will be painless."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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