Budget Battle–Is There An Appetite To Cut? If So, What?

The City Council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee is examining each department budget for potential cuts as the days wind down to vote on Mayor Bill Finch’s $520 million spending plan that calls for a $400 tax increase for the average homeowner. Wednesday night council members debated a haircut for the mayor’s budget but moved on at the urging of City Council President Tom McCarthy, a city employee, who suggested caution to avoid a snippety catfight with the mayor.

Council members hope for the budget committee to cast a vote on the budget sometime by the weekend for a full City Council vote Monday night. So what’s on the table for cuts? Police overtime? Outside attorney fees? Has budget director Tom Sherwood padded any areas of the budget council members can cut in the name of saving face? Police overtime, for one, is a touchy subject. Each year the police overtime budget is in the millions and each year officials say they will do more to reel it in.

A number of city police officers say quietly part of the overtime problem stems from internal conspiracy scams. “You call out sick this week and I’ll call out sick next week.” Presto! Instant overtime.

City bean counters, led by Sherwood, are still trying to get their arms around just how much moolah will be coming from the state with some unfinished business and questions regarding education funding. The more revenue they can plug in, the less there is to cut.

Once the council votes on the budget it then goes back to the mayor for possible veto action. The council will set the mil rate in June.

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15 comments

  1. Do these Council members understand they work for the people and not the Mayor? It is an outrage and a blatant ethical violation for Tom McCarthy to be involved in the B&A Committee activities. He is not a member of the Committee and is a city employee. He is also responsible for labor relations!

  2. Mr. Walker,
    Is there legal recourse? Please use your power and connections to find out! I am so sick of this blatant disregard for the law and the people. We need your help now more than ever!

  3. History will show one of Bridgeport greatest moments is when Chris Shays penned the sale of his house over to David Walker.
    Now if Warren Buffett, Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker and Robert Rubin are looking for a condo in Bridgeport, please call Chris Shays, Bridgeport needs all the help it can get.

  4. “A number of city police officers say quietly part of the overtime problem stems from internal conspiracy scams. “You call out sick this week and I’ll call out sick next week.” Presto! Instant overtime.”

    That’s bullshit, Lennie. If I take vacation, sick or personal days off and the city has to pay overtime for someone to cover, I and the person covering for me is or may be scamming the city?
    If you got that information from a cop, I suggest someone checks their IQ or their urine.

  5. “… council members debated a haircut for the mayor’s budget but moved on at the urging of City Council President Tom McCarthy …”

    At the urging? Sounds more like a direct order. Unless McCarthy put a gun or a knife to Council members’ chests, there shouldn’t be any good reason for them to comply with such request or urge from the Council President. This shouldn’t be a reflection on just McCarthy–it clearly shows how easy it is to get the majority of the members to rubber stamp.

  6. Is it true McCarthy’s salary has gone from $65k to $114k (proposed in this budget) since his presidency? I too would want to protect my boss’ budget. How about the city council reduce their stipend to $1 each and eliminate their slush fund as an act of good faith in reducing the mayor’s budget?

    1. Jennifer,
      Just took a look at the 2009-10 budget proposal that listed Deputy Director of Labor Relations at about $91,000 at that time moving up just $350 for the next year. Today that position is shown as $99,652 but will be up $15,096 per the Mayor’s proposal, if the Council acts favorably. One would guess the Mayor is pleased with Deputy Dog’s doings. Except he was elected and wears a hat representing voters in his district. That hat has slipped over his ears and eyes. By the way, labor relations is also looking for an added $250,000 for OTHER EXPENSES. That’s in addition to their current $50,000. What’s up, Deputy Dog? Big doings? Wink Wink. There must be a good reason for this. Time will tell.

  7. *** Many ideas and opinions have been put forth by bloggers on OIB concerning the city’s upcoming fiscal budget. However even considering all ideas, there’s no getting around a tax and mil rate increase; the unanswered question is just “how much” of an increase. The City, State & Federal governments have all dug quite large financial debt holes along with a lackluster economy that will be leaving many in America paying more for the same or less services & needs we still have now! Some more than others depending on how well our government has been able to curtail spending and borrowing and by finding ways to increase incoming revenue. This I’m afraid has not been happening in the city of Bpt, therefore the taxpayers of the Park City are in for more of the same negative solutions! *** YOU GOT WHAT YOU DID OR DIDN’T VOTE AT ALL FOR! ***

  8. Anyone who questioned allegations the Council is a tool of the Mayor now knows definitively–of course they are. That the B&A wouldn’t even address the Mayor’s office budget tells the story. I’d sure like to know exactly how much that budget has grown in 5 years. With all the hires and raises, it’s got to be huge. The Council (or some of them) talk a good game but they are all either beholden or cowards. Same diff in my book. Shame on them.

    1. The City Council is unequipped to challenge what comes from the City. When two or three Council persons ask for materials, reports or answers regarding fiscal matters, they find those questions are not answered and frustration ensues.

      Baffled, you asked how much the Mayor’s office budget has grown in 5 years. So I went to the City site and took the oldest approved budget archived there, 2009-10. The proposal showed Mayor, Chief of Staff, Mayor’s aide (2), Administrative Assistant (2), Admin. Assistant, and Mayor’s Executive Secretary (Acting). A press secretary position for $44,374 was deleted, so the Mayor’s budget for 8 positions stood at $547,642 adopted.

      The Mayor’s office funding for 2013-14 shows 9 positions for $737,833. Assuming that comparison is fair, and I do not think we are looking at the same apples in each case, there is a significant funding increase. On the Mayor’s “Total General Workforce” graph, the Mayor/CAO staffing totals are combined to show 17 employees today, 9 from the Mayor’s office and 8 from the CAO. The latter budget for personnel has grown by about $150,000 in the time period.

      What caught my eye was the workforce graph for 2009-10 shows Mayor/CAO at 11 employees. That math doesn’t fly. Eight(8) plus seven(7) equaled 15 total for the two office in 2009-10, but it is this often discovered failure to check their work for accuracy that causes me to have a low opinion of work turned over to the City Council and public by the Mayor.

      Another major factor that should be understood is about the failed Charter initiative from 2012. The Mayor acts as if it passed as he has Deputy Directors and other titles consistent with failed Charter understandings. More important there are administrative employees who have been added to other Department payrolls that do not show up in my raw number comparison above. Not to highlight the person holding the position whom I have met and personally like, there is a position in the Lighthouse program with a title, (Deputy Chief Administrative Of), and compensation of $102,000 for the Mayoral appointment of an “education czar.” How many of the high level appointments are dispersed throughout the budget? Does the Council see them? Are the results present or expected? Time will tell.

  9. *** DON’T WORRY, JUST POINT YOUR LITTLE B&A FINGER AT WHAT YOU THINK SHOULD BE CUT AND “UNCLE TOM” SHERWOOD WILL MAKE THE NUMBERS ILLUSION LOOK REAL! ***

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