Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said his budget numbers are ugly. The more than $15 million in savings he was hoping for from union negotiations probably aren’t going to happen.
If you include a recent multi-million-dollar legal judgment against the city, and add in losses from the shuttered baseball stadium, this year’s deficit could reach $22 million. And next year’s deficit could be worse: $50 million.
So Bronin will tell anyone who will listen that he has cut all that he can, that the city’s taxes are as high as they can go, and that there are no more local levers to pull -- even if it means making a presentation to a state advisory commission that can’t offer him much help.
That’s what he did on Thursday. The response he got was predictable.
“The larger issues that they’re talking about are outside the purview of this commission and really fall with the legislature,” said Thomas Hamilton, the chairman of the state’s Municipal Finance Advisory Commission.
But if the commission can’t make a major fix, it can make a statement, Bronin said.
“You can give an opinion on how significant the challenge is,” the mayor said. “You can, I think, give an opinion on whether there is low-hanging fruit.”
There isn't, Bronin said, but he’d welcome someone to find it if it’s there. He also said the commission could also render an opinion that would effectively tell state lawmakers that his city is in need of a real reform.
“If you want to have a capital city that is strong, that’s growing, that’s healthy, and that can be an economic driver for the region, I think you probably render an opinion on whether that can be done by the city of Hartford alone with the tools that we have,” he said.
His point? It can’t.
So as lawmakers look to get their own fiscal house in order, Bronin continues to make the case that Hartford is the state’s capital city, and it is need of some serious state help.