Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra presented a budget that increases taxes, cancels a class of police officers, and raises new money by selling off some of its parking assets.
Connecticut's mayors face increasingly difficult budget realities, crunched by things like payrolls, pensions, and health insurance costs. That's especially true in Hartford, where half of the properties in the city are tax exempt buildings owned by the state or by non-profits like hospitals. To close what he said was a projected $44 million deficit, Mayor Segarra has proposed a 3.4 percent tax increase on the average home valued at $125,000.
"The reality is that the fixed costs are growing faster than the revenues," he said at a press conference.
He's also not filling about 99 positions and is making cuts to departments. But the biggest issue may be his decision to sell parking assets that the city owns. The buyer is the city's pension fund -- that's essentially the investment account for the city's retirees.
"Let me be very clear," Segarra said. "This sale will prevent what would have been a mill rate increase of 6.8 with an additional layoff of over 200 city employees."
Members of the city's parking authority were in the audience as Segarra presented his budget. One asked whether the mayor intended to sell actual buildings or revenue streams. Segarra said that has yet to be nailed down. The city council has until the end of May to approve a budget for next year.