The City of Hartford received a major boost from the Connecticut Senate and it's expected to be included in the final budget Gov. Dannel Malloy signs.
Lawmakers included language with the state budget that would allow Hartford and New Britain specifically to charge a 10 percent admissions tax on venues within their cities. In Hartford, the move is expected generate $400,000 in annual revenue and $100,000 in New Britain.
“It’s not huge but every little bit matters," said Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin. "On this project where we have to piece together the revenues to pay off the bonds, you know it, it’s important, and I give our legislative delegation a lot of credit for fighting for it.”
Bronin inherited the troubled Dunkin Donuts' Park project from his predecessor Pedro Segarra, who envisioned a downtown entertainment district in Hartford. The project was slated to cost $55 million to Hartford taxpayers but after cost overruns it will now cost closer to $63 million, with $5.5 million of it the city's responsibility.
Republicans criticized the move by lawmakers to approve the revenue going to Hartford and New Britain. Sen. Len Fasano, the GOP Minority Leader, likened the move to a "bailout."
He also mentioned a January letter from Malloy's Chief of Staff that said of possible assistance for stadium financing, "The governor believes it is an should be the responsibility of the City of Hartford."
A spokesman for the governor said the issue has not reached the governor's desk and that the discussion about funding for Hartford back in January was specifically about construction costs. The fact that Hartford will use the money for debt service relating to the stadium is irrelevant to the governor's position, he said.
Bronin said any talk of a bailout is false.
He said since the city made an investment that will draw visitors it should maximize the revenue off of it.
“It was built with city money. It’s located in the city, it should in some small part come to benefit the city.”