I am not sure that anyone grasps the severity of Hartford's fiscal condition. I am also pretty sure that no one at city Hall with their $100,000 plus salaries, city vehicles , golden pensions and excellent health care benefits are in touch with what the average Hartford resident faces everyday to survive.
A $70million dollar deficit for Hartford's budget next year seems to be a minor inconvenience for Mayor Segarra and his Administration as they continue to spend like money is being printed in the basement of City Hall and City credit cards are not real money being spent.
Last night I attended the Council's OMB (Operations, Management and Budget) committee meeting and listened to those defending ESI bonuses (more on that in another posting later) and was amazed by a spreadsheet showing how much money the City gives away for police and DPW coverage for special events that occur in the City.
The spreadsheet, shown below, was provided to the Committee by COO Saundra Kee-Borges. The Council, in its infinite wisdom, had passed a resolution last year that capped the amount for events and parades at a maximum of $10,000. This was apparently done to appease segments of the community who would have events and then never pay the bill, leaving the City holding the bag for large amounts of Police overtime.
As an example, the 5C's. the group that runs the Saint Patrick's Day Parade typically would accrue costs of anywhere from $30,000 to $35,000 for the annual event. The 5C's had always paid that amount to the City to clear their bill. Other parades were not as forthcoming with the payments.
So the Council decided to cap the amounts charged, so as an example, the St Patrick's Day Parade is capped at $10,000 so essentially we give away about $25,000 in City Services.
The annual West Indian Parade, according to the COO's spreadsheet ,last year cost $50,500.00 of which only $10,000.00 was billed due to the Councils cap, resulting in a loss of $40,000.00 to the City's coffers.
The spreadsheet gives no indication of which groups actually have paid their bills and which are outstanding.
This is the type of thing that the City cannot afford as we head into projected multimillion dollar deficits over the next several years. If organizations cannot afford the expense of a lengthy parade route, then offer them use of Parks or areas that do not require a police officer at every intersection along a lengthy route.
According to the COO's report over $300.000.00 has been given away in the last year. The other interesting part is that these fees have to be absorbed into the Police and DPW budgets which affects their flexibility to cover other areas with overtime or increased staffing when needed.
The report is difficult to read because of the small text. it might be easier to print it and read it or go to scribd and magnify the image