At the City Council meeting on Wednesday, a representative from Mesirow Financial, the city’s debt advisor and a major advocate for the proposed $115 million debt restructuring, said the city’s current debt problems are no one’s fault. He said that, if anyone, state legislators who limited debt repayment to 20 years are to blame. This claim is deeply flawed and misleading.
It’s true that some of the factors influencing New Britain’s debt problems have been out of the city’s control, but city leaders are still responsible for the choices they made under the prevailing circumstances. They chose the mill rates. They chose the budget. They chose to borrow again and again knowing the city could not afford the debt payments they agreed to incur, and, under Mayor Stewart’s leadership, chose to refinance the city’s debt three times already.
It is clear this $76 million of refinancing hasn’t solved New Britain’s debt problems.
Why would refinancing even more be different? New Britain cannot afford to ignore the history of its financial problems.
It matters which policies contributed to our current debt disaster. If city leaders don’t learn from the past and address the city’s finances comprehensively, the city will find itself overwhelmed by debt again before we know it.
The citizens of New Britain deserve an honest discussion about the finances because these decisions matter beyond what is reported on the city’s financial statements.
It affects the city’s future, and Mayor Stewart and the council will be held accountable for their choices.