Groups Fear Hartford Budget Cuts Will Have Devastating Consequences

The City of Hartford's budget crisis means deep cuts, but many groups say the cuts would have devastating consequences. 

"What I'm putting forward is not the budget we want to put forward, but it's the budget we have to put forward," Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said. 

Many groups facing proposed cuts for the 2018 fiscal year spoke during a public hearing at Bulkeley High School Wednesday night. 

Dial-A-Ride and senior centers see reduced funding in the proposed budget, which Hartford activist Hyacinth Yennie and others said would hurt services that cater to some of the city's most vulnerable population. 

"Dial-A-Ride is critical for seniors. They can't get out of the house if they don't have a ride," Yennie said. "We can stay at the level right now, but please do not cut seniors." 

Other organizations find themselves facing a total cutoff in funds. 

Hartford Public Access TV broadcasts public meetings, including Wednesday night's hearing, and the executive director said they're facing a nearly $50,000 slash, which is about 20 percent of their total budget, and that would greatly affect their ability to provide services for the city and its constituents. 

The proposed budget would also do away with city funding of Journey Home, an organization that works to end chronic homelessness. 

Journey Home would lose $85,000 and executive director Matthew Morgan said all the progress they've made would be in jeopardy. 

"It is an achievable goal to end chronic homelessness and we are closer than any other state, so these cuts could reverse that and put us on a road back toward increasing chronic homelessness in our region," Morgan said. 

Mayor Bronin said he values the work Journey Home does and pointed out that the organization serves a large region but that Hartford is the only city that gives a significant amount of money to them. 

"I hope you go with the same passion and same energy and same forcefulness to the West Hartford town council, East Hartford town council, Windsor, Wethersfield, Simsbury and Avon and say the same. And if everyone gives you five grand, we'll get you that $5,000 and make you whole," Bronin said. "The City of Hartford cannot continue to bear regional responsibility on our own. We need partnership." 

The mayor said a big reason the city is in a fiscal pit is because so much of their property is non-taxable. 

"Not only is half the property non-taxable, but the property that is taxable is much less than our peer cities like New Haven, Bridgeport. It's even less than West Hartford. We have less taxable property than a suburb that's half our size," Bronin said. 

"We have made tough choices. We know how tough those are, and this budget has some more. But remember, at the end of the day, even with all of that, we cannot do this alone. That's why we have to show the state we have done everything we can because acting alone, there is no path to solvency for our city,” Bronin said.

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