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Amid Historic Budget Shortfall For New Haven, Mayor Submits Two Budgets

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker
Ebong Udoma
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker

New Haven, Connecticut, faces a $66 million budget deficit this year. That’s one of the worst shortfalls in decades. Mayor Justin Elicker has proposed two different budgets: a crisis scenario, and a call for help.

Elicker proposed a crisis budget with deep service cuts, including potentially closing a library, senior center and fire house. His second budget factors in potential help from Yale University and the State of Connecticut.

Elicker said the pandemic is only part of the money problem. Most is fixed costs, like salaries and pension obligations. Elicker says cities can’t balance their budgets because the state does not reimburse enough for non-taxable land. That could force him to up the tax rate 5.7 percent.

“We do not want to raise taxes by that amount, we do not want to close these services, these are vital to our community,” Elicker said.

Elicker said he is in talks with Yale officials and state lawmakers. He supports a bill by Senate President Martin Looney that would address issues with Connecticut’s model for city funding.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.