Hearing On Hartford Mayor's Proposed Budget Is Wednesday
By JENNA CARLESSO
April 18, 2013
HARTFORD —— City residents will have the chance to weigh in Wednesday on Mayor Pedro Segarra's proposed 2013-14 budget, which keeps the tax rate flat and includes deep spending cuts.
A public hearing on the budget will be held in the Bulkeley High School auditorium, 300 Wethersfield Ave., at 6 p.m. Residents who wish to speak must sign in as they arrive.
The hearing will open with a brief presentation by Saundra Kee Borges, the city's chief operating officer, highlighting how tax dollars are being spent and how city officials are prepared to close what was projected to be a $70 million deficit next year. Segarra will also give opening remarks.
Members of the city council are expected to attend.
The mayor has proposed a $543.9 million budget for 2013-14 that keeps the tax rate flat but calls for $47.7 million in cuts and $3 million in employee concessions.
The cuts include reductions to 15 of the city's 20 departments and a hiring freeze for more than 100 vacant positions. Segarra has pledged there will be "no reductions to essential city services."
Some of the departments facing cuts include:
Fire: The $31.2 million allocation represents a cut of $1.06 million, or 3.3 percent.
Emergency services: The $4,833,549 budgeted is $36,605, or .8 percent, less than the current budget.
Public works: $13,098,171, a cut of $359,012, or 2.7 percent.
Development services: $4,806,480, a cut of $260,258, or 5.1 percent.
Health and human services: $5,368,247, a cut of $185,590, or 3.3 percent.
Under the plan, the city would close a $70 million deficit primarily through the cuts, but also by tapping the rainy day fund, taking $13.5 million from the account that holds about $26 million; through the employee concessions; and with $17.6 million that the city has saved by restructuring its debt.
In order to keep the budget balanced without a tax rate increase, however, the mayor said he will draft a memorandum of understanding with the city treasurer that would allow the city to pay about $13 million in pension contributions during the course of the fiscal year. The rest of the contributions — about $24.3 million — are built into Segarra's budget.
The proposal is a 0.7 percent increase over the current $540.3 million budget.
At least two departments received budget increases: police, whose $40,252,773 budget is $3,458,956, or 9.4 percent, higher than the current budget; and the registrars of voters, whose $667,238 budget is $83,329 higher than the current budget.
Maribel La Luz, Segarra's spokeswoman, said the mayor has made several attempts to include residents in this year's budget process, and he encourages more input. In March, he hosted a two-part informational session called "The People's Budget," explaining the process and seeking feedback. On Wednesday, he arranged a "telephone town hall" meeting in which residents could ask questions over the phone and comment on the budget. The one-hour session drew more than 1,600 participants, La Luz said.
The city council will now have an opportunity to amend the mayor's proposal. The deadline for the city to adopt its 2013-14 budget is May 31.
To see the entire city budget, go to http://www.hartford.gov/management-and-budget/budget-calendar.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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