June 29, 2018

Hartford insurers gift $10M to city

Chris Swift, chairman and CEO of The Hartford, talks with Connecticut Business & Industry Association CEO Joe Brennan at a CBIA economic forecast event in January.
HBJ File Photo
The Travelers Cos. headquarters in Hartford.

Hartford's biggest insurers say recent economic gains have earned the Capital City its first installment of a $50 million donation pledged over five years.

The Hartford, Travelers Cos. and Aetna collectively pledged in March 2017 to gift $50 million to Hartford, which faced years of mounting debt, if city leaders develop a stable and sustainable fiscal climate in Hartford.

On Thursday, the insurers announced they are making good on that promise by donating a total of about $10 million -- the first of a possible five-year contribution. The insurers say they will review the city's finances annually before making further donations.

The gifts come after state lawmakers earlier this year approved a long-term bailout plan for the city, in which the state has agreed to pay off approximately $550 million in Hartford's general obligation debt over the next two to three decades. With interest, the amount could be higher.

A spokesman for The Hartford said its $3.3 million contribution was made earlier this week to the Hartford Public Library after Mayor Luke Bronin achieved "very positive progress through a broad and balanced set of actions."

The company said it's "confident" policymakers will continue finding long-term solutions to improve Hartford's fiscal standing.

"We are committed to being part of a comprehensive and sustainable plan to address the city's financial challenges and believe that supporting the city and Mayor Bronin's plan is the right thing for The Hartford to do," the spokesman said.

In a statement, Travelers CEO and Chairman Alan Schnitzer said the company appreciates the city's progress in stabilizing "Hartford's finances in the short term."

"Subsequent years still remain subject to a comprehensive and sustainable financial solution, and we'll continue to work with the mayor and others to ensure we're on that path," Schnitzer said.

Aetna officials also commended Bronin, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and other state leaders for working to "stabilize" the city's finances.

"We are making good on our promise to support the city, providing the first year of the five-year funding commitment," the company said. "We will monitor and evaluate the progress being made towards a comprehensive and sustainable financial solution on an annual basis, and will continue to work with the mayor to support these efforts."

Bronin will comment on the donations at an official announcement in July, a spokesman said.

In April, Bronin proposed a $567 million budget containing no layoffs or one-time revenue-raising maneuvers like asset sales or pension cost shifting, and no new borrowing.

Most of Hartford's projected $63 million deficit in 2019 was wiped out by an approximately $48 million debt assistance payment from the state, provided by its recently created Municipal Accountability Review Board.

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