In an auditorium filled mainly with business owners and members of the MetroHartford Alliance, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra gave his budget pitch on why his more-than-half-a-billion-dollar proposal is right for the city of Hartford.
"It sends a positive message to our residents that the city of Hartford is continuing to invest in all of the neighborhoods," Segarra said.
The budget includes $68 million for the renovation of the dilapidated Martin Luther King Jr. school, as well as funds to repair and repave roads. Segarra said those are things that people see that restore confidence that should trickle down to business owners.
"We have parks throughout the city and we have roads throughout the city," Segarra said. "These investments are strategically implemented to impact all parts of the city."
The mayor did propose some spending cuts but said "public safety is protected." He said safety is a priority and expressed his desire to hire more police and cadets in the coming year as the city deals with a wave of retirements.
Segarra said fully funding retirement is something he and the city council are retired to do. That led to his proposal of $36 million, which will maintain the system's 80 percent funded level. Segarra explained that city codes dictate that the fund must be at 100 percent, but market conditions in recent years led to the funding carrying an unfunded liability.
He contended that Hartford's pension fund is in much better shape than those of cities of similar size.
"When you consider how many revenue sources we have compared to other cities, we are in a good position. Others have funds at between 40 and 50 percent," Segarra said.
Oz Griebel, the CEO of the MetroHartford Alliance, said Thursday that the health of the economy and the region depend on the state of the city.
"A strong fiscal foundation is absolutely critical to the retention of jobs that are in the city. It’s absolutely critical to the expansion of jobs in the city and it’s absolutely critical to further capital investment in the city," Griebel said.