Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra is one of our guests on Face the State this weekend, and during the taping we got right down to business by talking about business. One of the major problems in the city is the shrinking tax base, that impacts everything from public safety to education. You don’t have to be an economist to understand it ; all you have to do is look around at empty storefronts and empty lots that used to house companies. Next month Hartford will get more tough news when one of its landmark skyscrapers is mothballed. Bank of America is moving to Cityplace, and a new tenant has not emerged for the tower, that has been a fixture in the skyline since 1971.
The loss of big taxpayers in the past five years (ING, Mass Mutual, MetLife and WFSB) is clearly not the fault of Mayor Segarra, but it became his problem when Mayor Eddie Perez resigned last summer. Those departures put a big dent in the tax revenue, and the burden has been shifted to residents and merchants, none of whom are happy about it. Since then, Segarra has taken the lead in recruiting new business. There is still much work to be done, but during the taping Segarra pointed to some recent successes, namely a downtown grocery store, a movie theater, and new housing.
I also asked Segarra about the city’s population crisis. Once a city of of 177,000, it is now fallen to124,000. The city’s population has shrunk by more than 50,000 people since 1950. Segarra talked about efforts to build more housing, and a new tax structure that would attract business and new residents.
Segarra is running for his first full term and the election is just over 7 months away. So far three of Segarra’s fellow Democrats have announced they will challenge him. I also asked the mayor if his party is really the best choice for the city, considering they have run it for the past 40 years. No Republican candidate has yet emerged.
We also talked about getting more city employees to live in the city.
You can watch the entire interview with Mayor Segarra this Sunday morning at 11AM on Channel 3.