He doesn't like the $535 million budget that the Hartford city council adopted Sunday after weeks of negotiations punctuated by gamesmanship, posturing between Mayor Eddie A Perez and the council and threats of fiscal Armageddon as the May 31 deadline approached.
The budget, billed as a compromise plan, passed by a 5-4 vote and includes a 4.44-mill increase in the tax rate, to 72.79 mills, a tax increase of 6.5 percent.
Bradshaw doesn't think it's much of a compromise.
"If you've got a column that says 'unhappy,' put me in it," Bradshaw said Monday. "I have lost all respect for the city council."
Bradshaw, 66, a North End resident since 1972, said all he sees is increased spending by the city's elected officials, while the school system and property values continue to deteriorate.
"They devalue my property but not my taxes," he said. "How can you devalue my property by 40 percent but raise my taxes?"
Bradshaw's sentiment had been echoed in the city council chambers Sunday by residents equally as angry about the increase, which will mean an additional $188 for the average taxpayer with a home assessed at $172,000. The news for businesses was worse, with taxes going up 7 percent for the average high-rise office building, 12 percent for the average restaurant and 17 percent for the average mixed-use business, according to Sarah Barr, Perez's director of communications.
But residents and businesses aren't the only ones taking a hit. The council on Sunday reduced the board of education budget by $3 million and reduced funding for foreclosure assistance by $1.5 million. The council also reduced city employees' salaries and benefits by $3.2 million and is hoping that union concessions will prevent layoffs.
The council did, however, restore $500,000 to the police department and $1.1 million in funding for the arts, helped at least in part by increased revenue projections outlined by Perez on Sunday.
Barr said that Perez's increased projections were based on additional prior-year personal property taxes being paid and anticipated sales of city-owned properties.
Those revenues won't help the school system, though, and the board of education will start looking for ways to trim $3 million more today after having its proposed budget cut by $18 million.
Superintendent Steven Adamowski said in a written statement Monday that he was "very disappointed with the council's cut" and the lack of communication and consultation with the school board on the matter.
Adamowski said that the school board would explore several options, including delaying the opening of two new schools and rescinding commitments made to residents in response to input on the budget.
Council members on both sides of the vote who expressed displeasure with the spending plan Sunday were still left with a bad taste in their mouths Monday.
Working Families Party council member Larry Deutsch, who voted against the budget, said he still felt that Perez's staff was too large and filled with too many high-paid appointees who could have been cut to reduce the tax increase further "had the mayor not vetoed them so darn much."
Democrat and council President Calixto Torres, who voted "yes," said he felt bad that the council was increasing taxes in such difficult economic times.
Bradshaw said that the decline in the quality of life and in his property values and the increase in taxes and infighting on the council aren't enough to drive him from the city.
But he doesn't want to hear excuses or apologies from elected officials, either.
"We will muddle through this until we get people who can straighten it out," he said. "If that takes a changed city council, so be it."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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