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Hartford Adopts City Budget, Compromises With Mayor

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Pedro Segarra

Pedro Segarra

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Hartford’s common council reconvened at city hall Friday afternoon to approve the city budget for the 2013/2014 fiscal year.  The council voted to approve the budget, compromising with the mayor by making $5.1 million of the cuts in question.

The decision to approve the budget came only after hurdles with the mayor earlier this week.

Council moved to recess Tuesday after debate arose over Mayor Pedro Segarra’s authority to reinstate funds previously cut from the budget plan by council.

Last week, council cut $8.6 million from Segarra’s proposed budget. Segarra reacted by rejecting many of those cuts, revising the plan to include only $3.9 million in cuts. A lawyer hired by council to assess Segarra’s authority in the action this week said that the Mayor could not resurrect funds already cut by the council.

At Friday’s meeting, it was announced that Segarra had withdrawn his disapproval of several resolutions, thereby allowing council to vote on approving their earlier prepared budget plan.

In a statement released Friday, Segarra said that he is happy with the budget that was approved.

“All along I’ve fought for a budget that does not compromise public safety, does not hinder essential services and doesn’t increase taxes on residents and businesses. With council’s support, we accomplished that today,” Segarra said.

Council members also expressed their satisfaction with the passed budget, although they said the process wasn’t easy.

“Once again, this budget process has been a real experience for all of us. It has brought out the best in the council and the best in the mayor and we’ve had our conflicts and our disagreements but I think that ultimately it ended up in the best possible situation that we could end up with for the residents of the city,” Councilwoman Cynthia Renee Jennings said.

Renee Jennings said victories in the budget included no new taxes for the residents of Hartford, as well as measures that protected jobs for those living and working in the city.

Not all council members were satisfied, however. Councilman Larry Deutsch, who abstained from the vote for the approved budget plans, said that overspending on items that the city can’t afford now will only hurt the city down the road.

“We all need to pay more attention to what our descendents will pay [in taxes],” Deutsch said.

“If we’re borrowing these things, someone will have to pay it back, and it probably won’t be us.”

Segarra agrees that the budget still needs to be monitored carefully.

“I want to be clear, there is still $3MM in employee concessions needed in order to have a balanced budget and the next year will be difficult.  Constant review and analysis will be enforced to make sure we’re making the best decisions for the Capital City,” Segarra said in a statement.

Other council members expressed interest in pushing off certain items in the budget to future years, in order to avoid overspending in the city’s current difficult financial times.

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