City of Hartford COO Darrell Hill convened the first meeting of the Hartford Committee on the Restructuring of City Government on the afternoon of Monday, January 5, 2015.
Nine of the twelve committee members attended at least a portion of the meeting. There appeared to be some membership changes since the initial appointments. The gathering focused on background information and the committee’s overall mission.
Mr. Hill noted that the Committee was originally expected to start in July of 2014 and deliver final recommendations in December 2014. He said that he still envisioned a six month effort, though recognized that major recommendations were unlikely to be approved in time for the City budget cycle that is about to begin.
Preliminary documents distributed to committee members estimated a $40.4 million budget gap for the coming fiscal year. Committee member Albert Ilg stated that he recalled a $25 million goal when the resolution establishing the committee was passed in the spring of 2014. Mr. Hill confirmed that the $25 million number was discussed, and said that his understanding was that the committee should try to reduce the budget gap by $25 million as soon as possible. He said that the larger goal was to make the budget sustainable for the next five years without raising taxes.
The conversation touched on the scope of the challenge; it was observed that the City is a complex organization. The background material distributed filled a four inch binder. Committee members will consider forming sub-committees at the next meeting.
Mr. Hill said that the committee must decide if there are services that the City should stop providing. The administration has asked department heads to list and prioritize the services their organizations currently oversee. Councilman Kennedy raised the possibility of identifying additional services that can be shared between the City and the School Board to achieve cost savings.
One budget item that Mr. Hill indicated was not up for debate was the General Fund allocation to education. He stated that the $284 million allocation that the City has made in recent years is a State mandated figure. He directed the committee to focus on the other $268 million in the $552 million General Fund budget.
The committee’s next meeting is expected to be on either 1/15 or 1/16, depending on committee member schedules.
2015-01-09, 8:30am, Correction: An earlier version of this article identified Albert Ilg as the Acting Finance Director. Mr. Ilg is no longer in that role, which is currently held by Leigh Ann Ralls.