Spending Plan Heading Back To Segarra For Consideration
By STEVEN GOODE
May 18, 2012
HARTFORD —— The city council made amendments to Mayor Pedro Segarra's 2012-13 proposed budget and sent the $540 million spending plan back to him for approval Friday.
The council will meet May 29 and is expected adopt the spending plan, which calls for a tax rate of 74.29 mills and would result in a wide range of tax decreases for most property owners in the city.
Under the latest proposal, which was adopted unanimously by the council after several hours of discussion and consensus-building, taxes on residential property would decrease by an average of 6.4 percent. Commercial property would also see tax decreases, including a 33.6 percent reduction in mixed-use commercial property.
Only two housing sectors would see tax increases: four-family houses, which would go up 65 percent; and apartments, which would increase by 14.2 percent.
The city's tax rate under the proposal would increase 2.5 mills to 74.29.
"This was definitely a consensus budget," Segarra said. "We worked very hard and did the best that we could for the residents of this city in difficult times."
Earlier this week Segarra proposed a budget mitigation plan to help close an $8 million revenue shortfall in his spending plan. The mitigation plan included $2.65 million in cuts, $3 million in revenues and $2.57 million in new taxes.
The council-amended plan includes an additional $2 million-plus in cuts, Segarra said. A large part of those cuts come from 10 percent reductions in his office's budget and those of the city council and city treasurer.
Other general government departments received smaller cuts in the 3 percent range, Segarra said.
The amended budget also includes the elimination of the city council's $300,000 community contributions fund, which council members have used to fund pet projects over the years.
Council President Shawn Wooden said Friday that the council wanted to make a statement that members are also willing to make sacrifices in difficult times, and that eliminating an account that some have called a "slush fund" was the right thing to do.
The city council also voted to increase the city's contribution to the municipal employees retirement fund by $11 million by the end of the next fiscal year. City Treasurer Adam Cloud has contended that the city is underfunding the pension plan by that amount.
But Councilman Kenneth Kennedy said that he will not go along with an expected call from the treasurer to increase the city's contribution by an additional $8 million next year.
"I will not support the council just blindly following the number," Kennedy said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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