Segarra Doesn't Like His Budget Fix, But It's All He Has

Apr 28, 2014

Even Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra doesn't like the idea of selling more than $30 million in parking assets to balance his budget, but he said it's the only option he's got left. 

"I've never been a fan of that," Segarra said. "I never would have presented it as a measure, if it's not for the fact that I think that we're at the point that -- but for that, if nothing else -- how can we fix this deficit?"

Segarra's budget will formally go to the city council on Monday night. In it, the mayor proposes to sell city parking assets to to the pension fund to fill a $44 million deficit. The idea made it on the table late in the game: so late, that it caught both pension and parking commissioners off-guard.

Segarra said he's tried everything else. He's raising taxes. He struck out at the state legislature when he asked for more money. He struck out with the governor's budget people. He didn't get union concessions. He couldn't convince non-profits that pay no taxes to give the city some cash. His changes to pension contributions in the past have gotten him into trouble.

"I've pretty much explored, possibly, everything," Segarra said. "I leave it open to others who, perhaps, might be a little bit more intelligent than I am to offer solutions that are better than this one."

The Hartford Courant's editorial board opposed Segarra's budget plan, and called it a "quick fix." It also suggested he should cut funding to public safety. That's not a suggestion the mayor embraces. He said he'd rather sell a parking garage than risk an uptick in crime.

City Council President Shawn Wooden said he learned about Segarra's plan the same day the mayor unveiled it, and that it came as a surprise to his colleagues.

"I would have preferred something different," Wooden said.  "The mayor is struggling to put together a very difficult budget. Now it's our turn."

A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.