Hartford Residents Meet to Learn About Bankruptcy Amid Concerns

If the City of Hartford filed for bankruptcy, how would that affect the thousands of people who live and work there?

On Thursday that question and others were answered by people who might know, including the former emergency manager of Detroit.

"What is the line in the sand when we should do it or not and the implications?" Jackie McKinney of Hartford wondered.

About 100 people filled the auditorium at Hartford Public High School to learn about the basics of bankruptcy and to figure out what life might be like after.

"It’s hard to know what is and what is not actually on the table," Tina Franklin of Hartford said.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said the city needs at least $40 million from the state to avoid declaring bankruptcy.

With recent bond rating downgrades, some are now preparing for what might be coming.

Taking the seats on the stage was a group which knows about managing money.

They included Kevyn Orr, the former emergency manager of Detroit, which filed for bankruptcy in 2013.

"Let me suggest this: nobody wants to enter bankruptcy," Orr said.

Also helping answer questions from nervous residents was Mayor James Diossa of Central Falls, Rhode Island. His city sought Chapter 9 in 2011.

"Unfortunately we did not have the time as you all do to even consider and have this dialogue," Diossa said.

The group explained how the bankruptcy process would unfold and might or might not affect city services, pensions and even taxes.

Some on stage and Hartford leaders argued the city helps drive the economy of the region, so its problems should also concern those outside the Capital.

“It is a tough reality. It is too bad that we are at this point,” McKinney said.

Whether Hartford ends up filing for bankruptcy depends on what’s included in the state budget.

Bronin is still hopeful it includes the tools that could help fix his city’s money woes.

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