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As State Financial Questions Linger, Council To Meet On Thursday For Override Of Budget

May 23rd, 2017 · 4 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Budget, City Council, News and Events

Hartford is a hot financial mess. Both in city proper and state legislative budget deliberations that decide the flow of dollars to Bridgeport. As a result, to buy time, Mayor Joe Ganim vetoed the no-tax-increase budget approved by the City Council. Now the council is scheduled to meet on Thursday to override the mayor to preserve the budget it passed.

Sometimes passage of municipal budgets are a leap of faith, particularly for cities that rely on millions in state dough. City bean counters are still uncertain about the specific state dollars coming Bridgeport’s way. Governor Dan Malloy has his number which by all accounts is less than what is projected in the approved city budget. The city could still be rescued by the state legislature when it passes a budget. But will that be in June or in a special session afterward?

The city budget year starting July 1 will have no tax increase. But suppose the city receives $4 million less from the state than anticipated? Something must give over the course of municipal spending for the next year. Or in lieu of that a fairy godmother of money.

The council must secure 14 votes to override the mayor. If it does not then the spending plan Ganim submitted is adopted. The council made some changes to Ganim’s budget including cutting the police overtime account by $1 million.

It may have happened but in the 30 or so years the council has approved the budget, no one can recall a likewise scenario of a local budget vetoed because of a state financial crisis.

In the early days of the council approving the budget, the city was under the thumb of a Bridgeport Financial Review Board that was created by the state to ensure city budgets were in balance. The state allowed the city to use its bonding powers to borrow $55 million to wipe out red ink and create a reserve. In exchange, the state enacted a review board that began under Democratic Mayor Tom Bucci in 1988, lasted through one two-year term of Republican Mary Moran and ended in the summer of 1995 during Joe Ganim’s first tenure as mayor.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Joel Gonzalez

    Lennie, was Bridgeport the only city to veto the council approved budget?

  • Tom White

    The Financial Review Board provided fiscal and monetary oversight, albeit heavy handed. A City budget that was not balanced with a committed source of funding would not be allowed. The reliance on State funding to balance the Bridgeport budget without the establishment of the State budget is a long-standing problem. With Stste funding uncertain, the FRB would likely have required the City to commit funds to balance the budget and disallow hedging until the State budget was approved.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Will any new categories of revenue be “discovered” similar to the Print Department token revenue inserted by Ken Flatto, though no response from him on program authorization or on department unbalanced reporting in light of $863,000 of surplus purchase orders over five years?

    Maybe the City will discover the $850,000 collected from families for Lighthouse programs and call it “revenue”?

    But it is in the expense cutting that the CC may exhibit some action that might be interpreted by voters in the fall as financially rational?

    Will Tom McCarthy lead them for once in this critical endeavor, or will he lead from the rear, as is often in evidence when he talks about taxpayer funds specifically?Time will tell.

  • Jeff Kohut

    History would suggest that Bridgeport will announce a “fire sale” of assets in the near future… And we might even see the state selling-off/privatizing a few assets in the near future, (e.g. state parks and/or contracts to develop parks and run the state’s jails…

    Basically, it will be a fire sale of our future by officials/agencies that aren’t sufficiently competent or properly invested in our future to be in a position to barter it for immediate cash-flow needs…

    This state, and its cities, are scale examples that can be used in constructing projections of the social and economic indications of income inequality… Indeed, income inequality measures will be seen to be able to function as macroeconomic indicators/predictors of municipal, regional, state, and even national fiscal/socioeconomic health…

    The state, and its urban centers (with, of course, the exception of Stamford) are a disgusting mess. Not a time form businesses or individuals to plan to relocate to Connecticut — except as maybe carpetbagger opportunists…

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