WNPR

Private Business Could Back Hartford Bankruptcy, Says MetroHartford Alliance CEO

Jul 10, 2017

The head of the MetroHartford Alliance said Hartford’s business community could be on board with a bankruptcy in the city, if it’s properly planned. Alliance President and CEO Oz Griebel said structural reform is needed to give the private sector confidence in Hartford. 

Last week, Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin announced he had retained a law firm with experience in municipal bankruptcies, in case the city has to resort to restructuring its debt.

Hartford is projecting at least a $50 million deficit this year, and the numbers could be worse depending on the outcome of state budget negotiations.

Griebel told WNPR’s Where We Live he’d rather see restructuring take place voluntarily, but if business leaders and state officials are consulted on the aims of a bankruptcy, it could work.

“Simply going and filing for bankruptcy – we’ve been very clear on this – that makes no sense to us, because of the uncertainty that goes with a bankruptcy filing, the costs associated with it,” he said.

“But if we’re joined at the hip, and all the parties say yes, this is the reset button we need to hit for Hartford, then I think bankruptcy -- notwithstanding some of the serious concerns about public relations issues – that may be one way we can go to begin to attain that structural reform that we know we need in Hartford,” Griebel said.

Oz Griebel, the departing CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance speaking on WNPR's "Where We Live."
Credit Chion Wolf / WNPR

He identified Hartford’s painfully high property taxes as a key factor holding back investment in the city.

“The single most important thing....to generate private sector confidence will be a projected steady decline in that 74, 75 mill rate, down to something that much more competitive,” he said.

Griebel is stepping down from the Alliance, which is Hartford’s Chamber of Commerce, at the end of this year. He hasn’t said categorically whether he’s interested in another run for governor – he unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in 2010.