Press Release: Mayor Stewart enacts city spending and hiring freeze

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                                                        March 28, 2016


NEW BRITAIN—Mayor Erin E. Stewart has issued a memorandum to all city department heads, including the Board of Education, ordering an immediate freeze of hiring and discretionary spending.

In announcing the freezes, Mayor Stewart cited a likely 5 percent reduction in municipal aid from the state; the measures are effective immediately and extend until June 30th.

Under the directive, no new hires will be allowed unless they are currently in the civil service process or critical to the health and safety of the city, all non-essential overtime must cease, and all purchase orders will be closely monitored by both the Finance Department and Mayor’s Office. Mayor Stewart is requesting that no new purchases be submitted unless it would create a work stoppage.

The memorandum was issued as Mayor Stewart prepares her budget proposal, which will be presented to the Common Council on Wednesday, April 13th.

On March 8th, the Board of Finance and Taxation presented a $245.91 million budget proposal to Mayor Stewart. The budget represents an 8.6 percent increase over the current budget and would require a tax rate of 60.77 mills to implement. Since then, Mayor Stewart has been meeting weekly with the city Finance Department to look for ways to reduce the budget.

“Tough decisions will have to be made in order to craft a budget proposal that our residents can afford,” said Mayor Stewart. “While we have made immense progress over the last three years to improve our financial footing, we are beginning to feel the effects of the painful cuts at the state level. The harsh reality is that we must spend only what we bring in. This means that we will look at all areas of city government for spending reductions.”

Among the major increases in the 2016-17 fiscal year are:

  • Debt service payments increasing $14.3 million
  • Employee medical insurance increasing $1.87 million
  • Pension contributions increasing $1.15 million