As Hartford Weighs Bankruptcy, Officials Hear From Those Who’ve Been There

HARTFORD, Conn. (CBS Connecticut) – With the City of Hartford facing potential insolvency in the coming weeks, community leaders listened closely at a forum Thursday morning featuring those who’ve lived through a Chapter 9 filing.

Kevyn Orr, the former emergency manager for the City of Detroit, which filed for bankruptcy in 2013, says it can be an arduous process, but a municipality can emerge stronger.

“Bankruptcy provides an opportunity for a fresh start; it provides some breathing room for the debtor … it provides a path to the end, which should be better– but by no means is it an easy one, or is it certain,” said Orr, who was part of the panel at the Society Room on Pratt Street.

James Diossa, mayor of Central Falls, Rhode Island, which filed for bankruptcy in 2011, says city services suffered, but a year later, when the community exited bankruptcy protection, it was stronger and primed for growth.

Both panelists agreed that Hartford is in a better position, in terms of planning and being upfront with the public, than their communities were before they filed for Chapter 9.

Mayor Luke Bronin says he’s hopeful the tentative state budget agreement announced Wednesday can help Hartford avoid bankruptcy, but he says all options must be on the table, and any state budget deal must be more than a “band aid” for Hartford’s financial woes.

A second forum on municipal bankruptcy is set for 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Hartford Public High School. No registration is required.

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