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As Unpopular Malloy Bails Out Hartford, He Bails On Bridgeport

April 13th, 2018 · 13 Comments · Analysis and Comment, News and Events, State Politics

Some legislative leaders are befuddled and some “outraged” over the sweetheart bailout that Governor Dan Malloy has gifted political ally Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin as the tin-cup candidate seeks to replace Malloy in the governor’s office. Interesting timing. Mayor Joe Ganim and New Haven Mayor Toni Harp have opined, what about our cities? Ganim, in a letter to state budget director Ben Barnes, offers suggestions how the most unpopular governor in the country can help the state’s largest city in an “impartial and equitable” way.

With the state of Connecticut providing between $750 million to $900 million in financial relief to Hartford, this raises a question of fundamental fairness for Bridgeport and every other city and town.

Let be me be clear: Hartford deserves support. But so does Bridgeport, the largest city in our state. The City of Bridgeport is the most underfunded city in the state on both a per capita basis and in real terms of state aid and assistance furnished on an annual basis.

The City of Bridgeport suffered the worst and largest cut in assistance within the biennium budget adopted by the State for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 as follows:
– Over $15 million dollar cut in FY18 municipal funding for the city budget.
– There was a $17 million real reduction in FY19 over the last two years.
– In 2018 the City of Bridgeport has received $48 million less in state aid than the City of Hartford for exactly the same state aid allocations and formula.
– Bridgeport Public Schools receive approximately $20 million less than Hartford Public Schools, even though student populations are similar.

In other words, the largest City in the state of Connecticut is receiving less than half the aid per capital than our sister City of Hartford.

While Bridgeport has taken steps to deal with this problem of underfunding from state aid, we are asking that you review these items and assist our city to seek impartial and equitable support.

The City of Bridgeport has managed our way through these tough financial times by cutting costs and service levels, and seeking enhanced revenues. However, Bridgeport’s debt service is almost 15% of the City’s budget and our mil rate is high, at approximately 54 mils. Bridgeport taxpayers deserve relief from this high mil rate and the only way that can happen is for the State to agree to properly fund the City of Bridgeport.

It has been recently announced that the City of Hartford will be provided over $750 million in revenue assistance from the state to pay off all of Hartford’s outstanding principal and interest. This was done by way of Public Act 17-2 Section 376 authorizes contract assistance to cities in need and Sections 377 to 553 authorize state bonding for many uses. Other legislation, Senate Bill 1502 sections 349 through 375 established the Municipal Accountability Review Board (MARB) and the process of Tiers for municipalities.

The City of Bridgeport believes the only solution in fairness is for the state to allocate assistance that Bridgeport and its citizens also deserve. We are not looking for a bailout. Bridgeport is viewed as one of the best run cities in the country posting balanced budgets despite these enormous financial challenges. The city therefore is not a City which needs or desires, an oversight board. The City believes in a stronger local and state partnership to help Bridgeport achieve a fair level of financial support.

Therefore, the City would like to propose the following solutions which can be considered for Bridgeport and could begin the process of a more comprehensive urban policy for all cities:

1. The City proposes that the State issue $300 million of bonds to retire the City’s remaining interest on outstanding principal bonds. This would be at no cost to the state. The City would offer to pay back the interest on such newly issued State bonds (issued at current rates) with a savings of almost 35% of the existing City pension bonds.

2. The City proposes a twenty million allocation over the next two years ($40 million) to the City of Bridgeport from the state’s legislated aid for cities in need of funding which had been intended to help multiple cities, beyond funds available for debt service to Hartford.

3. The City will agree that all new state funds given to the City will be used to reduce the City’s real property mil rate and provide funding for youth programs and services.

In summary, we believe this is the time for bold and decisive action to restore a level of fairness and equity to the City of Bridgeport and its citizens who have been shortchanged by the state for too long.   This also begins the process of restoring our cities to become the vibrant urban centers that can sustain themselves and drive our state economy to benefit all residents of Connecticut.

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13 Comments so far ↓

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Lets become the 51st state and fuck the rest of connectcut. In the article elow you show some of the Bridgeport delegation.They are a joke and did not a fucking thing for Bridgeport

  • John Marshall Lee

    Quoting Ganim2 letter:
    “Bridgeport is viewed as one of the best run cities in the country posting balanced budgets despite these enormous financial challenges.”
    Where is this view found, Joe, seriously? Balancing unreal numbers is not a feat in itself…..be back with some indication of fake numbers when I catch my breath from your “best run cities” comment.
    “Best run” might mean from Bridgeport to Hartford every year to ask forgiveness and reprieve from paying MERS pensions, or re-bonding previously bonded funds with higher interest, added marketing expenses and overall total cost increase. Best run cities do not buy police cars generally with 20 year bond and continue to pay after those cars are long gone, do they Mayor? Time will tell.

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    “The City of Bridgeport believes the only solution in fairness is for the state to allocate assistance that Bridgeport and its citizens also deserve.   We are not looking for a bailout. Bridgeport is viewed as one of the best run cities in the country posting balanced budgets despite these enormous financial challenges.  The city therefore is not a City which needs or desires, an oversight board.  The City believes in a stronger local and state partnership to help Bridgeport achieve a fair level of financial support.”

    I agree with Ganim’s statement (except for the self-serving “Bridgeport is viewed as one of the best run cities in the country posting balanced budgets despite these enormous financial challenges” bullshit. Malloy should have pumped ome cash into the state’s largest city. Instead he gave the candy to Luke Bronin, a political ally.

    If Bridgeport had elected a candidate other than a convicted felon and disbarred attorney we may very well have had a better relationship with the governor’s office and the legislature. But nooooooooo, Little Joe Ganim needed a job that paid better than an hourly rate. So he asked Zio Mario for help. Now we’re stuck with a duck that has deluded himself into believing he is the savior of the people of the city of Bridgeport. Only those whose votes you paid for believe that, Joe. Even then it was only on election day. The rest of the time they are living hand to mouth, wondering were have all the good times gone, where is the milk nd honey you promised.

  • Bob Walsh

    “The city therefore is not a City which needs or desires, an oversight board.”
    Well hell. Joey G definitely does not desire a review board but ‘needs’ is in the eyes of the beholder.
    Lets have a public discussion on the value of a review board. Let Ben Barnes come on down and tell us what it could accomplish and let the public decide.
    I think the truth would be hard to ignore.

    • The Bridgeport Kid

      Right on. Bridgeport needs a financial oversight board to get back on track. Reinstate civil exams, get rid of the careerist hacks that owe their jobs to political patronage more than competency.

      Let’s do this.

  • Bob Halstead

    In today’s Post it is reported a ton of State ECDC money is going to businesses in Stamford and Hartford.
    Bridgeport does not have its act together to apply for any of this money, nor are they able to facilitate applications from existing industries or businesses to apply and receive these grants?
    That’s what you get when hardly any of the Planning and Economic Office don’t even live here and political patronage is rampant.
    Hey, Mario! What’s up with your machine?
    Get the Hell out of Bridgeport!

  • Bob Walsh

    The first step Bridgeport has to take is admit it has a
    It has to admit it has a shrinking Grand List.
    Until that happens no progress will be made.

  • Jeff Kohut

    HELLLOOO!!!! “Reformers:” Your reaction is exactly what the Gold Coast Oligarchy wants! They know that as long as we fight among and blame ourselves for the exploitation and marginalization of Bridgeport, we can continue to be efficiently exploited and abused to their advantage…

    It is bs that we “can’t get our act together to apply for grants.” (We have an on-going, very serious and successful grant application process, over many grant sectors, augmenting our budget…)

    Stamford and Hartford get their grants handed to them on a “silver platter” without even asking… Gold-Coast Ned took the initiative to help Gold-Coast Luke look good for the gubernatorial election by using his contacts to create the Hartford-Infosys initiative hype… They help each other. We savage each other for petty politics and bs, meaningless, “reform.” [It's all about political agendas, "reformers" -- everybody wants to be in on the action... If their not "in" already, they force open the door with bs, meaningless, "reform" initiatives... Look at the latest example (Tuesday) of how serious and committed our "reformers" actually are...]

    While Dan sets up Luke to become governor, with Ned’s (et al.) help — and which requires a treasury-draining bailout for Hartford — Ned pretends to be running for governor in order to suck needed delegates away from other candidates as he sets up support for his bid for US Senator (the position that is actually in his sights…). Either way, the Gold Coast makes sure that they hold, or control, nearly all of the Capitol and DC cards deciding the fate of Connecticut and its cities… And making sure that their advantage and lifestyle is maintained at the state’s expense…

    In the mean-time, we act out the self-fulfilling
    prophecy of our dysfunction and “corruption” that resonates so effectively with the internal and external propaganda that relegates Bridgeport, and its people to third-world, “unworthy” status in the perception of ourselves and the rest of the state…

    Go away, “reformers;” you are clueless and counterproductive — and not immaculate in regard to some degree of “corruption” and political sins (and stupidity) yourselves… There cannot be any real political “reform” in Bridgeport as long as we’re marginalized and distressed… (And think about how stupid we have been, e.g., our votes and the efforts of local “reformers” got Gold-Coast Dan elected in 2010… Look at how he paid us back… And without Vaseline…)

    If you can’t root for the candidate, then root for the city — it works quite well for Stamford/The Gold Coast and their vassals (Harford)…

  • Bob Halstead

    Jeff
    The staff over here at OPED spends a lot of time doing things like trying to change Zoning regulations to allow more liquor stores in Bridgeport as an example, and this is for a political operative run by a political boss. HELLOOO.

  • Tom White

    As reported in a CT Post story, Malloy made it clear to Ganim that there will be no additional funds to Bridgeport without oversight.
    The city council is an inadequate oversight of the city budget. They lack the necessary experience, skills and resources. What is even worse is the city council members’ political alignment with Ganim through obedience to the DTC.

    My sources tell me though, that some members of the city council are interested in learning how the Municipal Accountability Review Board (MARB) operates and have requested permission for a presentation to the city council as they carry-out their review of the FY19 proposed budget. Their request was denied by the city council president.

  • Bob Walsh

    Ok. Now demand a presentation or do not approve a budget.

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