To The Editor:
For the third time in three years, Mayor Stewart is proposing to refinance the city’s debt. Each time, it has been for one purpose, to get her through the next budget without a tax increase or major cuts. Each time it has reduced the debt payment in the current budget year and the following year. Each time it has come at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to the bond firm employing her former chief of staff and millions of dollars in additional interest that we will all have to pay over the life of the bond.
Last year the mayor was so desperate to refinance before the election that she agreed to an escalating repayment schedule that takes the city’s debt payments from $14 million in 2016 to $39 million in 2021.
What the mayor has done is the equivalent of paying the MasterCard with the Visa. When you can’t pay the debt you owe, the answer is not to borrow more money.
We must make the tough decisions now to cut spending and/or raise revenue to get ourselves out of the death spiral of constant refinancing which is exactly what took Hartford to the brink of bankruptcy.
Don’t be fooled by the mayor’s claim that the purpose of this refinancing is to level out our payments. While it is very clear that New Britain needs to restructure its debt to eliminate the 2021 payment spike, this refinancing is really about the current fiscal year and next year. The very years that cover her next run for higher office.
The plan calls for reducing our scheduled debt payments by $3 million this year and $11 million next year. So instead of paying back $24 million this year we would pay back $21 million and next year we would pay just $17 million rather than the scheduled $29 million. This is an extremely short sighted scheme intended to keep everyone happy while she focuses on running for statewide office. If she’s successful she will be leaving a mess for someone else to clean up.