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Are You Paying Attention?

February 6th, 2018 · 22 Comments · City Budget, City Council, News and Events

That was one among many questions posed to City Council members Monday night by government hawk John Marshall Lee.

Less than two months ago, the Assistant City Clerk wrote a letter to three members of the November 2017 City Council informing them of the approved resolution requiring that “all officers of the city, elected or appointed under the provisions of the charter, shall be residents and registered voters of the City of Bridgeport …” and “are required to provide their current residence street address (or any change) by January 31st of each year. That date passed last week. I checked with the Town Clerk office.

The Town Clerk has a copy of the December 2017 letter from Assistant City Clerk Ortiz to Council persons Michelle Lyons and former members Bukovsky and Burns. An Application for Residency Reporting has been prepared with City Attorney assistance.

At the moment I have been informed that no one has come forward during the month of January to “provide true and accurate information” of their address as well as proof of residence. New law? No notice? People with too much to do? Perhaps a part of your sub-committee oversight of Approval of Mayoral appointments might get your clerk to put out such notice to all members of Boards and Commissions? Alternatively Angel DePara may have some idea on how to expedite the process by providing notice to those who are covered by the residency reporting resolution? Will you take part in this critical oversight? I have formerly mentioned an important City commission that has some longstanding confusion as to whether a President of that body resides and votes within the boundaries of the City of Bridgeport. Trust our rules and live up to them?

What about our City financial reports? Do you trust the numbers that come to you monthly with full revenue reporting but summarized expenses by category? I have asked in past years for a final June 30, 201? Report for a completed year. Not the one sent out on the fourth Friday of the month of July because the City and auditors are in a dance in those times preparing the books for the annual audit and that includes changes in posting of revenues or expenses from one year to another for instance. So the August report of June 30 will show both revenue and appropriation totals different from what will appear in the CAFR six months later. But will you get such a copy automatically, with all of the expense fields identified by line item? Not automatically. And it is important, because the exact ACTUAL expenses are what you will need to understand when you get to budgeting. And if you have a listing with two or three years of Audited and Actual you can see trends in increasing expenses and ask WHY?

My point this evening is that the ACTUAL 2017 REVENUES and EXPENDITURES for FY 2017 completed June 30, 2017 seemed to change between the November and December FY 2018 monthly reports. Did you catch the discrepancy? And if you did was there an explanation in the narrative to inform you?

2017 Actual Revenue (NOV)

$554,922,403

- Less Expense

$550,188,662

$4,733,741 Surplus

2017 Actual Revenue (DEC)

$555,522,403

- less Expense

$549,938,662

$5,583,741 Surplus

Good news, yes. But confusing perhaps without narrative? And how do we increase revenues and decrease expenses five months after the close of a Fiscal Year? If we wait another month or two, will those numbers improve again? Show us how to do that, Chief Finance Officer.

More importantly, how did we lose an additional $1.2 of revenue between November and December while expenses increased almost $1.9 Million? Last year results look positive, but this year’s get worse, but no one has bragged about the Surplus, though Ken Flatto called it $4.6 Million in the CAFR letter. And now it has increased to $5.5 Million surplus??

Take a good look at the expense projections in November for Full Time personnel and fringe benefits specifically. Then December. Look at the projected expense variances pointing to employee freeze on pay and benefits. How did such surplus get put into the current year numbers? Do you know how many full-time employees are getting paid in the City today based on FY 2018 budgets? Isn’t that your responsibility? Show the taxpayers the numbers, please. Time will tell.

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22 Comments so far ↓

  • Tom White

    Are you talking to me?

    Are you talking to me?

  • Andrew C Fardy

    ON & ON & ON There is to much to read for most people. You are writing like this is your doctoral presentation. Why not stick to the subject of residency where it applies this is something that people will understand . people dont want to read war and peace
    Here is a portion of this latest blog
    “More importantly, how did we lose an additional $1.2 of revenue between November and December while expenses increased almost $1.9 Million? Last year results look positive, but this year’s get worse, but no one has bragged about the Surplus, though Ken Flatto called it $4.6 Million in the CAFR letter. And now it has increased to $5.5 Million surplus??” Who really understands this and who gives a damn because nothing can be done with this to improve our lives

  • John Marshall Lee

    You want simple, Andy….
    1. When was the last time the City had a surplus of even minimal significance? Did the Mayor or Finance brag about it?
    2. So CFO Flatto announces “a solid $4.6 Million budgetary surplus” in the CAFR, the annual municipal audit on page ii in a January 10, letter to Mayor Ganim and the City Council.
    3.And i report that the numbers showing in the current FY 2018 Operating Budget actually increased to $5.8 Million and ask: “And how do we increase revenues and decrease expenses five months after the close of a Fiscal Year? If we wait another month or two, will those numbers improve again? Show us how to do that Chief Finance Officer.”
    Actually Andy your pessimism is a telling indicator to any and all those serving with pay or without, elected or unelected. This is not complicated so teach people and lay off the superlatives. And stop with the scare tactics about unbalanced budgets when you can change reality with a pencil so easily. What is the reality? How do you honestly present the info so that people can trust those with responsibility? Time will tell.

    • Andrew C Fardy

      Most people dont care because there is nothing they can do about it. Its not that I want simple its that I want to know about things that can be changed. Anyone with any brains knows that Flatto is lying and putting out info that will make Ganim look good. What can be done about it? Nothing/ You have put in hundreds of hours of tough work and you have documented all of your facts and figures to what end?

  • John Marshall Lee

    It is possible that some folks are paying attention……
    When the budget comes out this year from the City with recommendations, will the new folks demand a regular City employee listing to validate the budgeted full time and benefit projections?
    Based on the CAFR, more than one person is reading it and wondering about the title of all the funds described and the values in those funds? Anybody done that in years? Lighthouse, hello? Why are those funds not called family fees and listed as revenue? Who does oversight on that budget?
    And will Flatto get away with putting in a $10,000 revenue number for Printing and get 65% of that in the first month and shows no revenue since? Feeling respected? Tell Flatto…..you are not only taxed too much, and your house has lost wealth value, but you are feeling disrespected. How does Flatto disrespect or Ganim2 not paying attention to a major surplus support the notion that he is running Bridgeport? If Ganim2 does not take credit for the surplus, the current CC cannot take credit for it either. Who cares to call that quality municipal management? Time will tell.

    • Andrew C Fardy

      PLEASE

    • banmenow

      Time will tell is always your tag line! What has time told? It has told me that your long posts, endless meetings, appearances at Common Council meetings has not changed or accomplished much. Unless of course you are only doing this to educate the Only in Bridgeport reader.
      If you goal was more extensive you have failed to rally the masses and make real change.
      How much more time do you need? You are not a young man any more!

  • Ron Mackey

    The topic is “Are You Paying Attention?” my answer is NO, who wants to read all of this.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Ron,
      Weather have you down today? Or, is there no racial angle, when there really is?
      There are two issues stitched together in this article:
      Adhering to Charter, Ordinances, and CC resolutions so that “the law” is respected, and
      When we count money, a surplus is normally cause for celebration. Why is this surplus, that is growing five months after the close of FY 2017, not something to celebrate with announcements from Chief Finance officer, Flatto, or Mayor Ganim2?
      The “racial issue” can be explained by white supremacy ignoring the fact that our Bridgeport students at birth are equal to all other CT residents by law. What causes the State to say that the State is preeminent on matters of educating the children and then allowing what passes for education over the past dozen years, since a court case was filed (also the term of a Kindergarten student who would be a Senior in high school today). So many “unequal” minority students? Or too many “downtrodden citizens” even ones who formerly served the public, who have stopped advocating for equal opportunities for all CT students? Where is the JUSTICE in school funding? Would CT Supremes see things differently if they dropped their robes and shadowed specific students for one week? Would that be an education? Time will tell.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Thanks for the details.

  • Greg Einig

    John, thank you for the details and your diligence. You provide information that I don’t see anywhere else, and make it known to the city that someone is watching.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    AND

  • Andrew C Fardy

    The lack of proper funding for our schools can be layed right at the feet of our state reps. They dont seem to know the political game and how it works. The next time a candidate for state office comes to town its time to hold his feet to the fire. Its time for Bridgeport to fight for what its due.
    The other problem we have is LAZY freaking parents who just cant bother to help their kids do homework and study. its time to take the mentally challenged and students with difficulties and put them in their own school with smaller class sizes and more attention. The way it is now these kids are taking away from regular students because of the attention they need. Its nice building all of these damn schools but I dont know a school building that has taught kids.

  • Tom White

    My sarcasm aside, I know that what JML is trying to get across to council members is important for them to hear and pay attention to.

    As a member of the public, he is only allowed five minutes to speak and John tries to jam pack details into those five minutes.

    I have a suggestion to council members. Allow John Lee to participate in committee meeting discussions. He has more knowledge of city financial matters than anyone on the city council and he wishes to share it with you.

    The topic would need to be clearly defined and on the agenda. John would need to confine his succinct remarks to that topic and in response to questions posed by council members and city staff.

    This approach would be similar to the city council members approaching Judge Lopez for guidance on the WPCA collections issue.

    Give it consideration, council members.

  • Ron Mackey

    JML approach is like he’s a professor and he’s talking down and treating the council members as if they are children. There is a big difference between what Judge Lopez does to assist on an issue and what JML does. JML seems to be showing that he’s the smartest person in the room while Judge Lopez is putting her talent into action and making things happen.

    • banmenow

      Mr Mackey
      I don’t often agree with you, but when you are right, you are right!
      Mr Lee just wants to present himself as the all knowing.
      Having information and knowledge is useless unless you do something with it. To date I am unaware of any significant change Mr Lee has accomplished.

  • Donald Day

    Whew Brother Mackey truer words have never been spoken. JML always talks down to people which you’ve said on numerous occasions he tries to be the smartest person in the room. Like Andy said, ON & ON & ON There is to much to read for most people. You are writing like this is your doctoral presentation. Why not stick to the subject people dont want to read war and peace. That’s just the way he presents to the city council.

    He is replete with pomposity, he talks down to people and he has a need to be the smartest person in the room and his presentations represent those character flaws.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Citizens of Bridgeport,
    Specifically Ron Mackey who has been invited by me to have a cup of coffee together for a one on one meeting. He has declined by ignoring multiple requests. He wishes to keep me at arms length so he can keep complaining that someone, who like him, knew nothing about City finances a decade ago, has learned much about that subject and its intersection with City governance process. And now BANMENOW resurfaces to ask what I accomplish?

    The way I see it, I am a source of info and some people (other than these two folks) seek me out for where they can find one thing or another. Is that an accomplishment in a time when no one wishes to bark or blow whistles?
    On Monday night I noted that a new rule by the very own CC was ignored by the new Council and all of the various Board and Commission members. No one had signed up. Yesterday Brian Lockhart covered Karen Jackson doing her duty. Is that an accomplishment? Have the Council employee in the City Clerk office or Angel DePara asssigned to an assignment on Boards and Commissions advised eligible elected or appointed? Is this an accomplishment? What will happen to a Board or Commission when a member is specifically challenged, and has failed to report? Time will tell.

    • Ron Mackey

      John Marshall Lee, let me try this again, I have no need to have a cup of coffee together for a one on one meeting. I’m just a black man who is retire from the Bridgeport Fire Dept., I bring no special talent to having a cup of coffee with you, it wouldn’t matter if I agreed with everything you write it wouldn’t change anything that I’ve said before about you. JLM, there one thing that you need to know about retire firefighters, we don’t give a dam about who you are, if we don’t agree with someone we have no problem in saying so because there is nothing that you or anybody else can do to us, we can’t be bought and we have experience things during our career as a family serving the public that no one will ever know.

      • John Marshall Lee

        Ron, You are a black man who has experienced white supremacy enthusiasts in his life. You have studied American history in more depth than most people and can point others to resources that offer information and education to those who wish to learn.

        On occasion you happen to agree with me but for the most part you disagree and resort to providing opinions as to who you think I am without providing basis.

        Yes you were a fireman, a team member of a component of public service and you earned your share of Pension Plan A with the City. In the years we have written on OIB, is there anyone else on this blog who has researched Plan A, attended regular meetings of the handful who invests the funds, encouraged others to be active in this regard and commented on the costs to the community of this GANIM1 concept? And also reported on the tens of millions extras that we are placing in the plan today so that the total funding for this plan will easily exceed ONE BILLION DOLLARS before 2029 when bond payments end.
        Your problem seems to be that I have set myself on a learning course and when I feel conversant with a subject I begin to write on it. I learn from many others. You are a stubborn holdout. As long as you wish to ignore a face to face meeting I will acknowledge your right to do that. However, as you continue to misunderstand or mischaracterize me I will continue to keep the offer alive. To suggest that a cup of coffee together on an occasion would be the purchase of an individual’s integrity is so far off base. After all you could buy coffee for me, and I would not think you were buying anything.
        It is opening up channels of communication in Bridgeport that I am about. You have read my OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST values often. They have not changed. Why will “the public never know your experience”? Time will tell.

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