Category Archives: Fire

Mayor Appoints Fire Chief, MHIS Director

by Categorized: Fire, Pedro Segarra Date:

Mayor Pedro Segarra has appointed Carlos Huertas the city’s permanent fire chief, replacing Edward Casares, city officials said Wednesday.

Huertas has been the acting chief since Casares retired in June.

Segarra also has appointed Sabina Sitaru as the city’s chief information officer for Metro Hartford Information Services.

Both appointments will go to the city council for approval.

Segarra Warns Council Before Budget Cuts

by Categorized: Budget, City Council, Crime, Fire, Neighborhoods, Pedro Segarra, Police, Spending Date:

Mayor Pedro Segarra has not yet said whether he will veto any of the amendments the council made last night to his $543.9 million budget proposal, but he issued a warning to the council just before members began making cutbacks.

Segarra urged council members not to reduce spending in the area of public safety. Segarra’s proposed budget called for a roughly $3 million increase to the police department budget next year. The council went on to cut that by $2 million.

“The … reduction would force us to reduce our to the police department,” Segarra told the council. “We must maintain 481 police officers, however, 22 are paid through COPS grant a federal grant. The cuts put us in jeopardy of having to repay funds received for grants noted above, not to mention makes us ineligible to apply for other new funding.”

The panel also cut the fire department budget by $1 million.

Here’s a copy of Segarra’s full remarks to the council before their session last night (Text provided by the mayor’s office):

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“When I drafted this budget along with input from City Council, all departments, the Treasurer, the community, our residents and businesses there were three non-negotiable items I heard loud and clear; (1)Our constituents would not tolerate any further cuts to essential city services (2)Businesses and residents could not afford an increase in our mill rate (3)Under no circumstances should we jeopardize the safety of our city

Through several regular conversations with Council, they made it very clear they were concerned about spending.

We started out this FY with a projected $70MM deficit- widely publicized- primarily a result of pensions and healthcare costs.

So my recommended budget took all of these critical factors into account.

We cut $47MM in spending, including cuts to 15 departments and average of $529 per department. We significantly delayed hiring for vacant positions. I requested $3MM in employee concessions, not my preference but a more sound alternative than to lay off employees during these already difficult economic times

This was accomplished without the reduction of essential city service and keeping our mill rate flat.

We did this with an anticipated $13MM drawn down from the Fund balance or Rainy Day Fund. This fund, which I have steadily increased during my tenure, still remains the highest of any major city in CT.

I urge City Council not to reduce the budget item charges that relate to our public safety in excess of what I offered as a compromise.

I want to be clear, since the inception of the STF in 2011 and other efforts, we have seen a 35% reduction in homicides and assaults with a gun. We have seen a 3.5% reduction in Part 1 crimes. Recently we’ve had a spike in crime that accompanies warmer weather but is also a result of a decrease in OT.

The suggested $2.4MM reduction would force us to reduce our to the police department. We must maintain 481 police officers, however, 22 are paid through COPS grant a federal grant. The cuts put us in jeopardy of having to repay funds received for grants noted above, not to mention makes us ineligible to apply for other new funding.

 Now, we’ve been through tough fiscal times before. I know the Council and I agree on the most fundamental premise, we want what is best for the City of Hartford. We do not want to burden our residents, our businesses and we want a safe city that progresses.

We cannot compromise the safety of our City. We cannot compromise the health of our city. We can’t let our streets and parks become neglected.

I know we’ll figure out the best solution without compromising the progress we have worked so hard to achieve over the last few years.”

Council Members Looking To Cut Registrar Of Voters’ Office, Require Some Registrars To Go Part-Time

by Categorized: Budget, City Council, Fire, Police, Registrar of Voters Date:

As the city council prepares to begin its budget-amending session today, one member is eyeing the registrar of voters’ office as a target for some of the cuts.

The office has grabbed headlines throughout the last year or two for its infamous budget battles. Last year the council reduced the registrars’ budget from $763,909 to $583,909. In March, the office was running $152,000 over budget, and was seeking additional city money to help offset the overrun.

Now, Councilman Kenneth Kennedy said, he is proposing that two of the city’s three registrars of voters — Working Families Registrar Urania Petit and Republican Registrar Sheila N. Hall (who replaced longtime registrar Sal Bramante) — become part-time employees. They currently work full-time.

The third registrar, Democrat Olga Vazquez, would remain a full-time employee, Kennedy said, because the city’s Democratic party the most registered voters.

“She’s the one who does the most work,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy, a Democrat, is also proposing that the three deputy registrars of voters go part-time. The move would save on salary and benefit costs, he said.

Councilman Larry Deutsch, a member of the Working Families Party, said he would oppose the plan.

“Anything other than full equality in function and salary among the three registrars is just outrageous,” he said “It’s political patronage. There should be no prioritization of one party over another because of voter turnout.”

Hall, the Republican registrar, said today that going part-time would create problems for the office. Aside from working on elections, she said, the registrars do day-to-day work, such as payroll and office management.

“This is not a small city,” she said. “The ones that are part-time are mainly in suburban cities.”

In addition to reducing the registrars’ office budget, council members are looking to cut the police and fire departments and eliminate several more vacant city positions, they said today.

Members have said they do not want to tap the city’s rainy day fund. Mayor Pedro Segarra’s budget calls for $13.5 million to be withdrawn from the fund to balance the 2013-14 budget.

Councilors today said they are aiming for about $14.2 million in cuts to Segarra’s budget proposal, including around $2.5 million to the police department, $2 million to the fire department, $3.8 million in vacant positions and about $350,000 to the registrars’ office.

The council will meet at 3 p.m. at city hall to amend the mayor’s budget.

Council Members Say They Don’t Want To Raid The Rainy Day Fund

by Categorized: Budget, City Council, Fire, Pedro Segarra, Police Date:

Democrats on the city council have said they want to minimize the amount of money taken from the city’s rainy day fund to help balance the 2013-14 budget. Mayor Pedro Segarra’s budget proposal calls for the withdrawal of $13.5 million from the fund, which currently has about $26 million.

One council member, Democrat Kenneth Kennedy, said today that after further discussions, some of his colleagues have decided they don’t want to draw any money from the fund. When the council meets to amend the mayor’s budget Monday, they’ll likely propose $13.5 million in additional cuts to city departments, so the rainy day fund isn’t depleted at all.

Segarra’s budget already calls for $47.7 million in cuts, which would reduce 15 of the city’s 20 departmental budgets.

“I’m afraid if we take half the money out of the rainy day fund it will have a negative consequence on our bond rating, and it will cost more for us to borrow,” Kennedy said Thursday. “It’s fiscally irresponsible to take that much money out of the rainy day fund.

“You have to think about this short- and long-term. A lot of these decisions are short-term decisions. We don’t have any long-term revenue solutions.”

He wasn’t specific about which departments would face further reductions, though he did say police and fire would likely be cut by the council. Segarra has proposed increasing the police department budget by $3.4 million next year, saying public safety has remained a priority. But Kennedy said that increase would probably be reduced.

More vacant city positions also would probably be eliminated, he said, though he didn’t say how many. Segarra’s budget calls for the freezing of more than 100 vacant positions.

Councilman Kenneth Kennedy. (Handout Photo)

Councilman Kenneth Kennedy. (Handout Photo)

In the coming months, Kennedy said, he will propose that the council not approve the mayor’s memorandum of understanding with the city treasurer. The issue likely will come up later in May or in June, he said.

Segarra has said he would draft a memorandum of understanding with the treasurer that allows the city to pay about $13 million in pension contributions during the course of the next fiscal year. The rest of the contributions — about $24.3 million — are built into Segarra’s budget proposal. The agreement allows the mayor to balance the budget without a tax rate increase.

“The memorandum of understanding is irresponsible because we’ll have to take money out of the rainy day fund to pay it,” Kennedy said. “If we do it the mayor’s way we won’t have a rainy day fund left at the end of the [2013-14] year.”

Fire Truck In Kingston?

by Categorized: Fire, Police Date:

Len Besthoff of Channel 3 WFSB continues to investigate the whereabouts of a city fire truck donated to Hartford’s sister city — Morant Bay, Jamaica — that apparently never made it there.

Besthoff reports that the truck is now in Jamaica’s capital city of Kingston, according to a former Hartford city councilwoman. You can read his post here. There have been varying reports about the truck’s whereabouts.

Besthoff also reports that Andrew Lawrence, a Hartford Police Department sergeant who was being investigated by internal affairs to see what, if any, role Lawrence played in shipping the city-owned fire truck to Jamaica, has been “cleared of any wrongdoing.”

“The HPD launched an investigation into Lawrence around the time of our report, and according to the documents we have just acquired, Sgt. Lawrence has now been cleared of any wrongdoing,” the post states.

Hartford Police Lt. Brian Foley, responding to our inquiry this afternoon, said the internal affairs investigation into Lawrence has not been completed.

The History Of The Hartford Police Department

by Categorized: Fire, James Rovella, Police Date:

In light of Wednesday’s dedication of the new Hartford public safety complex on High Street, we looked into the history of the city’s police department. The following is a timeline that includes all locations of the police department (thanks to the Hartford History Center for the following information):

1860: The city’s first police station opens at the intersection of Kinsley and Market streets

1874: The police department moves to 38 Kinsley St.

1902: The police department relocates to 85 Market St.

1910: Moves to 45 Temple St.

1922: Moves to 83 Temple St.

1932: Moves to 91 Market St.

1942: Moves to 85 Market St.

1961: Moves to 155 Morgan St.

1981: Moves to 50 Jennings Road

2013: Police, fire, emergency services and telecommunications are brought together at the new, 140,000-square-foot public safety complex at 253 High St.

 

Photo courtesy of the Hartford Police Department

Photo courtesy of the Hartford Police Department

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To view pictures of the Hartford Police Department through the years, click here.

Photos of the new public safety complex can be seen here.