HARTFORD —— Money-saving ideas as diverse as consolidating school board functions with other city departments and purchasing sport utility vehicles for firefighters to use during medical calls have been sent to the mayor for consideration.
City council members were asked earlier this month to come up with proposals for saving money, generating new revenue and improving city services. They have now created a list of the most popular suggestions and forwarded it to Mayor Pedro Segarra.
Offering free parking downtown and hiring a recreation professional to find more money for activities were among the suggestions.
Others include creating a grants-management office, mandating that all city employees attend customer service training, and merging some board of education functions with city departments, especially finance, payroll and personnel.
Council members selected the proposals they deemed most worthy of research and presented the list to Segarra.
"The mayor will give serious consideration to all of the ideas expressed, particularly those of significant interest to the city council," said Ted Carroll, who has coordinated the city's budget workshops. "He's intent on listening and directing his staff to pursue the possibilities that look most interesting and most promising."
Three popular ideas came from Councilman Corey Brinson, who joined the panel in January. Brinson proposed offering free parking downtown to attract more customers to city businesses and suggested that city officials stop collecting property taxes on the first $5,000 of the value of cars registered in Hartford, a move he said would make the taxes more comparable to those paid in the suburbs and would benefit residents with low incomes.
Brinson also proposed creating a program to encourage young adults to live in Hartford. In exchange for community service, such as mentoring in schools, the city could pay a portion of young adults' education loans, he said.
"We need to think outside the box," Brinson said. "If we just keep doing what we've been doing, nothing changes."
An idea to charge flat fees for special events held in Hartford has already sparked action. Councilman Kenneth Kennedy introduced a resolution seeking to allow the city to charge flat fees for event services. Event organizers are currently required to pay at least half the overall costs associated with their events. The city covers the remainder.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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