Harp Announces Spending Freeze

Lucy Gellman PhotoIn the wake of a last-minute $1.9 million cut in state aid, Mayor Toni Harp Monday announced a “hard freeze” on city spending through the last six weeks of the fiscal year.

Harp spoke about the freeze during her latest appearance on WNHH radio’s “Mayor Monday” program.

The Malloy administration informed the city last week that it plans to hold back $1.9 million in planned aid to New Haven for this fiscal year due to the latest unanticipated drop in state tax collections.

The city’s fiscal year ends June 30. To avoid ending it in the red, Harp said, she instructed her department heads they may not spend any more money this year that isn’t already contracted, “unless it’s needed for public safety.”

“Basically it means that if you haven’t spent it, even if it’s in your budget, if it’s not contracted, it’s gone,” Harp said. “It’s going to affect every single department and police and fire to a limited extent. Every single department’s going to be impacted.”

In addition to last week’s cut, the Malloy administration also recently informed the Board of Education that $1.3 million in promised aid this fiscal year won’t be coming after all. Harp said the school board will have to enact measures similar to her freeze. “I’m hoping that they will end in the black, but they may not,” she said.

All of this is just a prelude to tougher decisions facing the city for its upcoming fiscal year.

The Harp adminsitration’s proposed $554.5 million budget is making its way toward the final stages of review and approval by the Board of Alders. The proposed budget counts on a $31 million increase in state aid based on assurances received earlier this year in Hartford. Harp acknowledged Monday that it now “looks likely” that that $31 million won’t all materialize.

On Monday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced he plans to cut planned municipal aid another $700 million in the upcoming two-year budget due to the state’s projected $5 billion budget. (Click here to read more about that.)

Harp said she and Board of Alders leaders are “looking at alternative ways to balance the budget.” The one last big hope from Hartford appears to be some version emerging of the governor’s proposal to allow cities to tax real estate owned by local not-for-profit hospitals, which included a promise to have increased federal Medicaid payments reimburse the hospitals for the lost revenue. Harp had originally opposed the idea, then embraced it if the state can come through with a guarantee to make up any reimbursement shortfalls to the hospitals. She said Monday that legislative leaders are working on a new version of that proposal that uses the term “payments in lieu of taxes” rather than straight-out “taxes.”

“It’s a really difficult time,” Harp said.

Meanwhile, Harp, a Democrat who has said for months that she plans for run for a third three-year term this year, said Monday that she plans to make her reelection campaign official at an event at the Sound School Friday at 5 p.m. Marcus Paca and Ira Johnson have also announced they will seek the Democratic Party’s nomination.

Click on or download the above audio file to listen to the full episode of WNHH radio’s “Mayor Monday” program, which also dealt with the new police chief, domestic violence, loud sirens, and Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The episode of was made possible with the support of Gateway Community College and Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C.

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posted by: Bill Saunders on May 15, 2017  8:46pm


posted by: Noteworthy on May 15, 2017  9:42pm

Certainty Notes:

1. Mayor Harp was warned during the Finance Committee hearings last year that making plans to spend every dime of extra money the state sent was foolish - that yet again, building another new school was beyond foolish and failing the put away more than a token deposit in the Rainy Day Fund was an epic failure. It all went unheeded.

2. Since almost half of the city’s budget comes from the state, chronic financial problems under the dome like deficits and drooping credit ratings, fat union contracts and net losses of income taxes which has followed citizens out the door - has a direct impact on the city. Despite that, Harp went forward with a wasteful spending plan.

3. The chickens have now come home to roost. It is ironic that she announces her re-election plans with a backdrop of financial irresponsibility, unresolved problems in the police and fire departments, a growing list of unresolved lawsuits that will cost taxpayers millions if not tens of millions of dollars because of her lack of leadership and executive management not to mention the turmoil in the public schools.

4. The city’s problems are likely to get a lot worse.

posted by: theNEWnewhaven on May 16, 2017  7:43am



posted by: flash_demo on May 16, 2017  9:35am

Jeffrey Kerekes 2017.

posted by: Webblog1 on May 16, 2017  9:47am

“The city’s fiscal year ends June 30. To avoid ending it in the red, Harp said, she instructed her department heads they may not spend any more money this year that isn’t already contracted, “unless it’s needed for public safety.”

What is the Mayor just wakening up to her fiscal deficits or is this just a knee jerk reaction with the thought that an election is here and I better project myself as a fiscal conservative? I now call for a spending freeze with one month left in the year…..sounds like a plan. So just what does this spending freeze entail, The BOE is already $3.3M in deficit, the OT budget is already $2.7M in deficit, the medical benefits account is $8.5M in the red.  The Mayor did not call for a hiring freeze after last month’s report (March),

25 GF position changes were made, just this week 30 police officers were put on the street with full starting pay. Dept’s continue to expend the travel budget, there remain $35M unspent funds available in the capital budget and there are more than 50 positions on the vacancy list looking for hires. So if the Mayor is calling for a full in complete halt to all spending, and not just this fiscal year, but next year, as well, she had better start with a real plan “B” and not this shuffle of the deck in search of $1.9M because of the Gov’s paranoia.

Oh, and while you’re at it NHI, you might want to investigate whether the Harp family housing business has paid it’s $1M tax debt that Malloy and Kevin Sullivan have shoved under the rug…..! Might help the state budget.

posted by: Frank Columbo on May 16, 2017  12:59pm

Ditto Jeffery K or Justin E. All of you who chose Not to exercise your right to vote should respect the consequences of your actions.  Toni is just like Trump and Marcus P is NOT the antidote. Mayor Toni is of the Privileged class and the Trump administration, including his family are exemplary examples of how they think and what really matter$.