Every day, we see another story in the Hartford Courant, repeated on T.V. and the radio, about a couple of hundred bucks that are questionable. Everyone is distracted, with quotes by council members, excuses and "pay backs" by administration figures.
What a waste. Hartford is facing problems in the tens of millions and we quibble over beer money. Owners of apartments are going belly up with the increased level of taxation: 55% assessment now, 70% in the future, while the leader of the Council wants blood over tip money.
Let's ask Council leadership just how are we going to meet our obligations in the future? Cutting a couple of bucks means absolutely nothing when we have a budget that is $30 or so million over real income.
The culprit is the property tax and the way we classify it. To protect the West End (most of the Council and the Mayor live there) taxes on homes (up to three units) are 50% of the taxes in our next door neighbor, West Hartford. Same house, same lot, Hartford homeowners pay half.
That has been a political decision that most agree with, including your correspondent. However, let's look at who is paying the bill: the poor who rent the apartments, the poor who own a car, and any (stray) new investors in commercial property (jobs). Who pays the taxes on apartments (over 3 units)?
The poor, of course. Investors in living units must get a return on investment or they board up, or scat.
Just watch these units the next few years if nothing changes.
So, the challenge to Council leadership is: get off the grandstand and in the trenches. If you don't have any ideas to solve the big problems - impossible budget numbers - don't bother us with nickels and dimes.