MAYOR BRONIN DELIVERS 2022 STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS
Published on March 14, 2022
HARTFORD, CONN (March 14, 2022) – Today, Mayor Bronin, upon invitation from the Hartford Court of Common Council, delivered his State of the City address from the Park Street Library @ the Lyric. The speech focused on the City’s plans to rebuild and recover from the pandemic using American Rescue Plan funding, which was passed and signed just over a year ago under the leadership of the Biden-Harris administration and our congressional delegation. Mayor Bronin specifically underscored efforts to address the urgent needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Provide youth support services that help Hartford’s young people heal and move forward, staying enriched and engaged.
- Investing in community safety and wellness, improving residents’ physical, emotional, and mental health.
- Help small businesses come back, both in terms of support for struggling small businesses encouragement of new small businesses to get started in Hartford’s neighborhoods and commercial corridors.
“Our first priority was investing in young people and helping our young people to recover, reconnect and heal after everything they've been through,” said Mayor Bronin. “We've already given grants, our Hartford Unity Grants, to 68 organizations that serve more than 11,000 young people throughout our city. Those are organizations big and small, from Ebony Horsewoman, to Charter Oak Boxing Academy, from Hartford Proud to the Center for Latino Progress and dozens more.”
“People have said that around the country, police departments have stepped back,” Mayor Bronin stated. “Not the HPD. Last year, they took more illegal guns off the street than in any year since they started counting. They've also already solved three quarters of the homicides that happened last year, and they're still working on the rest. And importantly, they built a new non-fatal shooting team that was focused on non-fatal shootings with the same investigative intensity that they bring to homicides…”
“But law enforcement cannot get at the underlying drivers of gun violence in this or any other community, and so when it came to using our ARP resources, we focused on community safety through community partnerships…” said Mayor Bronin. “We are committing more resources to community safety through community partners than at any time in Hartford's history.”
“There were many businesses that did not survive,” added Mayor Bronin. “And we can see their absence in the vacant storefronts in our downtown and in our neighborhoods alike. And that's why we built the Hart Lift program, a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce. It's a $6 million program to fund the build out costs for new businesses that are establishing themselves in vacant spaces, whether it's the downtown, or in our neighborhoods. We've already given grants to businesses that are opening on Garden Street and Capitol Avenue and Pratt Street.”
Mayor Bronin also discussed City plans to use ARP resources in a manner that lays a strong foundation and creates long-lasting benefits to the community:
- Building two new library branches, the Swift Factory library and the expanded Albany Avenue library, in addition to the newly constructed Park Street library.
- Continuing momentum in Parkville by expanding Parkville Market and transforming blighted buildings and vacant properties on Bartholomew Avenue.
- Uplifting Albany Avenue and Barbour Street by developing vacant lots and long-deteriorating buildings such as the corner of Albany and Woodland.
- Activating Downtown.
- Creating homeownership opportunities in partnership with SINA, NINA, the Hartford Land Bank, and Habitat for Humanity.
- Investing in pump stations to modernize the City’s flood control system.
“We also want to make sure that we are making investments that allow us to get the benefit of these resources for years and years to come,” Mayor Bronin emphasized. “So we can see and feel the difference, even after the dollars are gone. And to do that, we can do things like fixing up blighted buildings, activating vacant lots around our city, pursuing neighborhood projects that have been long sought.”
Finally, Mayor Bronin discussed the City’s financial outlook and promised that the budget he will submit to City Council next month will include a reduction in the property tax rate (mill rate). He emphasized that the City has not added a dollar of debt in more than five years, has built up its reserves, and has received upgrades from rating agencies such as S&P:
“I want to make a promise to you tonight. When I submit my budget next month, it will include a mill rate reduction. It won't be as big a reduction as I wish that it could be. But it will help at least a little. It'll get our mill rate down below 70 for the first time in more than 15 years. And it will be the largest reduction in our property tax rate in more than 30 years.”
He concluded by saying:
“That's why I wanted to do this speech here tonight at the Park Street Library branch, because this beautiful building is a monument to patience and to perseverance and to partnership and to what we can do if we set our minds on something and do it together. We don't give up. And we know how to mount a comeback. And that's why despite everything we've been through, I believe that we can take advantage of the opportunities we've got, and bring this city not back to where we were, but to someplace better. And it's why I can tell you that I feel, I believe with confidence, that the State of our City is strong and getting stronger.”