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Mayor Says He Already Has Ways To Cut Deficit In Half

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Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra delivers his annual address to the city council. Photo by WTIC's Matt Dwyer.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra delivers his annual address to the city council. Photo by WTIC’s Matt Dwyer.

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In his state of the city speech this evening,  the mayor of Hartford discussed the financial challenges facing the city, as it prepares a budget.  The city has a projected $70-million deficit.

Text of the mayor’s speech:  Hartford State of the City 2013

Pedro Segarra says he has already found ways to eliminate about half of the projected shortfall.

“We should not ignore deficits, but we should not panic and obsess about them either,” Segarra said.

Segarra says the city has faced projected deficits in his previous years in office.  He says the city has always balanced its books.

He says the city’s revenue is expected to be flat, while employee contracts, health insurance, pensions and inflation are all expected to increase the city’s expenses.

“Now we go back and we study our pension, we study our health benefits, and we try to leverage some other programs that we have for infrastructure,” Segarra said. “We are in the process of reissuing debt to take advantage of low interest rates to save us some money.”

Segarra says the city has been aggressive in rebidding contracts to get lower costs for services.

At a meeting following the mayor’s speech, the city council sent a proposed hiring freeze to a council committee for more consideration.  The freeze would include public safety positions.  The council also planned to consider trying to put the brakes on overtime.

Segarra also knocked on his lectern, as he noted that one form of violence has been absent from the city so far this year.

“It is a consequence of the good work of our police chief, our shooting task force, our police, our communities, our faith communities and everyone involved, that this is the first time in decades that we have made it this far into the year without a single homicide,” Segarra said.

He received a standing ovation.

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