Council Cuts $8.6 Million From Segarra's Proposed Budget
BY JENNA CARLESSO
May 20, 2013
HARTFORD — — After hours of backroom deliberations and deal making, the city council on Monday voted to cut $8.6 million from Mayor Pedro Segarra's $543.9 million budget proposal.
The cuts include reductions of $2 million to the police department; $1 million to the fire department; $3.5 million through the elimination of vacant city positions, excluding police officers, 911 operators and frontline public works employees; $377,260 to the registrar of voters' office; $500,000 to the human resources department; and $300,000 to fuel, utility and tipping fees in the sundry expenses.
The council also approved a series of smaller reductions, including a $15,000 reduction in funds allocated for business lunches and dinners across all departments; a $41,603 reduction in funds allocated for food across all departments; a $15,000 cut to professional and technical association dues; and a $9,000 reduction in funds for subscriptions to periodicals.
The council also approved progressive furlough days for non-union city employees, meaning the higher the salary someone earns, the more furlough days he or she would have to take. Under the plan, someone with an annual salary range of $150,000 to $160,000 would have to take 15 furlough days, while someone with a lower salary, in the range of $50,000 to $60,000, would take five. The furlough days would represent a savings of about $281,000 across the departments, according to the council resolution.
Some council members said before Monday's meeting at city hall that they were hoping to cut more — as much as $14 million — from Segarra's proposed 2013-14 budget. The mayor's plan calls for a withdrawal of $13.5 million from the city's rainy day fund, which has about $26 million, to help balance the budget without a tax rate increase.
But several council members have said they don't want to take any money from the fund because it will affect the city's bond rating, making it more expensive for the city to borrow.
Councilman Larry Deutsch called Monday's actions "a real compromise," because the panel didn't cut as much as it had planned. Segarra's proposal already called for $47.7 million in cuts to 15 of the city's 20 departmental budgets.
The mayor's spokeswoman, Maribel La Luz, said Monday night that Segarra has not yet decided if he will veto any of the council's reductions. The deadline for the city to adopt its budget is May 31.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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