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May 29, 2019

Hartford council adopts $573.2M budget; no mill rate increase

hartford budget HBJ PHOTO | Joe Cooper Hartford City Hall at 550 Main St.

Hartford’s city council on Tuesday adopted Mayor Luke Bronin’s recommended $573.2 million budget for fiscal year 2020 that includes additional spending but flat taxes for residents.

Under the budget, spending will increase by $3.2 million, or 0.6 percent, over the current year. The budget does not rely on new taxes or borrowed money thanks in part to flat education spending and the state’s long-term debt assistance. The Capital City’s mill rate will remain flat at 74.29.

The budget, effective July 1, will become the city’s second budget reviewed by the Municipal Accountability Review Board, which was established to oversee the state’s agreement to pay off approximately $550 million in Hartford's general obligation debt over the coming decades.

Hartford Public Schools will again receive flat spending of more than $284 million, which will be supported by an additional $3.2 million under Gov. Ned Lamont’s two-year budget. The state funds will be used for “non-education” operating expenses such as addressing chronic absenteeism.

Capital improvements worth approximately $24.5 million will be paid through grants and the city’s general fund. The funding will cover ongoing renovations at Weaver High School in Hartford’s North End, and other projects to improve city buildings, roads and sidewalks, among other upgrades.

There is about $560,000 allocated for new traffic signals, signs and line improvements.

The budget also includes increased spending for public safety.

Spending for the Hartford Police Department rose 0.3 percent to $46.6 million, which will help city law enforcement hire 60 additional police officers in response to recent retirements and a growing workforce. The department is slated to grow by 26 officers from July this year to July 2020 for a total of 436.

Meantime, the Hartford Fire Department will receive about $34.3 million in the upcoming budget, representing an increase of $1 million, or about 3 percent, over the current year.

In total, the budget will add 17 full-time city workers for a total of 1,361. Excluding public-safety workers, the city will have 11 percent fewer, or 54 positions, compared to fiscal year 2015, city officials say.

Bronin said the adopted budget keeps the city on pace with its five-year financial plan.

“This budget maintains steady, disciplined path we’ve set for ourselves, and it continues the targeted investments we have made in public safety, youth engagement, quality of life and support for our most vulnerable residents,” he said.

This story has been updated to include comment from Mayor Luke Bronin

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