Bronin pledges fiscal discipline, stable future for Hartford

BY Matt Pilon

With half of his first term behind him, Hartford Mayor Luke on Monday recounted the Capital City's recent accomplishments and developments, from the opening of the new UConn campus to securing $5 million in funding to back a Youth Service Corps and pledged "tough and tight" city budgets.

The Democrat, who is exploring a run for governor this year, told city councilors during his annual state-of-the-city address that he cut spending by 20 percent in non-public safety departments and negotiated union contract savings from police, fire and others.

Union concessions have picked up steam since the legislature in late October created a Municipal Accountability Review Board, which has warded off a potential Hartford bankruptcy filing.

The MARB offers the state's help in restructuring municipalities' debt, in exchange for increased fiscal oversight and control. The city has applied to the MARB for assistance, and a $50 million, five-year donation pledge to the city from Aetna, Travelers and The Hartford hinges on an acceptable outcome, Bronin has said.

The Hartford Courant reported last month that Bronin is seeking $20 million in annual debt-payment assistance, as well as a chunk of a $48 million pot of money the legislature allocated for distressed municipalities.

"While not yet done, I believe that we will soon be able to do what no administration in many, many years could do: look our residents and taxpayers in the eyes and say that we can project stable, balanced budgets – not for one year, but for years to come," Bronin said Monday, according to a transcript of his prepared remarks.

He also said that the city's capital investments will be limited only to "essential infrastructure," and that those investments will come from operating funds, not new borrowing.

"Our budgets will be tough and tight. But we're used to that," Bronin said. "And by committing to continue the discipline with which we've budgeted over the last two years, we will lay a foundation that future administrations, future councils, and future generations can build on."