HARTFORD —— Mayor Pedro Segarra on Tuesday approved the city council's amendments to his 2012-13 budget, which call for a tax rate increase of 2.5 mills and cuts in spending.
The amendments, which bring the overall budget to about $540.3 million, down from $546.6 million, include two proposals that Segarra had submitted to the council: one that called for nearly $5 million in cuts and another that built in an additional $3 million in revenue.
The council adopted those proposals and made an additional $2 million in cuts last week. A large portion of those cuts came from 10 percent reductions in the budgets for the offices of the mayor, city council and city treasurer. Other departments received cuts of about 3 percent.
Segarra's proposals came after the state legislature failed to pass a bill that would have allowed the city to raise the assessment ratio for apartment properties, which in turn would have enabled officials to collect more property taxes. The city was left with an $8 million revenue shortfall.
The cuts proposed by Segarra include a $1 million reduction in expected health care claims, the entire $150,000 budgeted for the innovation fund and $80,000 for lobbyists.
The additional $3 million in revenue stems from a projected $1 million increase in property tax lien sales, $575,000 in building permit fees and $1.4 million in intergovernmental revenues related to school construction reimbursements, tax abatements and other areas.
The amended budget also calls for the elimination of the city council's $300,000 community contributions fund, which members have used to fund pet projects over the years.
"I am pleased that, working with city council members and the city treasurer, we were able to reach a budget agreement that does exactly what residents and business owners have asked of their elected officials: reduced spending, a continued focus on investing in economic development and grand list growth, greater efficiency and more accountability," Segarra said in a statement Tuesday.
"I am especially proud that this marks the fourth deficit budget that we have reconciled and balanced since I took office in June 2010."
Despite the tax rate increase, council members said, taxes on residential properties would still decrease by an average of 6.4 percent. 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.
Councilman Kenneth Kennedy said Tuesday he anticipated that the mayor would sign off on the amendments.
"All the cuts that were agreed to in this budget were cuts made in consultation and negotiation with the mayor's office — what we all felt were appropriate levels," he said. "Any time you pass a budget it's a balancing act between the need to cut spending and the need to provide services. I think we struck the right balance."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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