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Council Cuts $1.75 Million From Mayor's Proposed Budget

By Jenna Carlesso

May 17, 2011

Hoping to ease the burden for local taxpayers, the city council on Tuesday cut $1.75 million from Mayor Pedro Segarra's proposed $547.7 million budget, effectively lowering the city's tax rate by half a mill.

The cut reduces the tax rate from 72.79 to 72.29 mills. A mill equals $1 for every $1,000 of assessed property.

"Our ultimate goal was to cut $2 million from the mayor's budget, and we got pretty close to that," Council President rJo Winch said Tuesday. "We're confident that the mayor will support our changes and not veto them."

The $1.75 million in cuts are shared among several departments, including police, the corporation counsel's office and the city council.

In the police department, $300,000 was cut from executive command level expenses and $500,000 was deducted from the overtime account. The city council account was reduced by $90,000, and the corporation counsel's settlement account was cut by $110,000.

The council has also reduced the city's health benefits account by $750,000 because of projected savings, members said.

The cut to the police overtime account won't affect services, council members said. The police department is installing a new computer system to more closely track overtime hours, which would make costs easier to control and generate savings.

The reduction in the corporation counsel's account was done to restrict the number of outside attorneys the city hires, council members said.

The council also cut $50,000 from the registrar of voters' budget and allocated that money to the Monday Night Jazz Program, the Greater Hartford Jazz Festival and the city's Health and Human Services department to help fund an emergency overflow shelter for women and children.

The budget will now go back to the mayor, who will have the opportunity to veto the changes. The mayor has 48 hours from the time he receives the budget to approve or veto the amendments, city spokeswoman Sarah Barr said.

Segarra was expected to get the budget back on Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday, Barr said.

The mayor's $547.7 million budget for 2011-12, unveiled last month, increases spending by $3.25 million, or 0.6 percent, over the current fiscal year. It does not require an increase in the tax rate.

Segarra has said the spending increase is due to collective bargaining requirements and payments to the city's pension fund.

Reached by phone Tuesday, Segarra did not say whether he would veto the council's amendments. But he said that he and the council "are not worlds apart on this."

"It's a half a mill," he said. "I don't see that as being an incredible challenge, but I want to make sure it doesn't compromise our ability to provide the services we need to provide. I will now review the cuts they're proposing and make sure we can absorb them organizationally."

Reprinted with permission of the CityLine blog of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the CityLine at http://blogs.courant.com/cityline/ and the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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