Budget Committee Cuts Chapman From Ganim Plan, Delays Police Class, Adds $1.5 Million To Education

A weary Budget and Appropriations Committee turned a long day’s Saturday journey into an early morning Sunday vote just after midnight by cutting nearly $4 million from Mayor Joe Ganim’s $560 million spending plan, adding roughly $1.5 million to the flatfunded Board of Education, delaying a police class until the next fiscal year, cutting vacant positions and eliminating former Police Chief Wilbur Chapman’s position as senior adviser to Ganim for public safety. The vote was 6-1 with freshman councilman Anthony Paoletto the lone dissenter.

“I support giving more money to schools but I voted no because Wilbur Chapman will be a loss to the city and I also did not want to put off a police class,” said a tired Paoletto late Sunday morning.

Saturday morning the budget committee had gone into caucus to pull apart pieces of Ganim’s budget facing a deadline to move the budget to the full City Council for Monday night’s scheduled special meeting. What happens at the committee level is generally approved by the full budget body.

City Council President Tom McCarthy says the budget cutting provides “tax relief of a little less than half a mil” from Ganim’s proposal.

Putting off the police class, according to budget committee numbers, saves $520,000. The committee also slashed the City Attorney’s Office proposed budget by roughly $250,000 and Chief Administrative Office by $160,000.

Once the full council votes on the budget it goes back to Ganim for potential veto action and a response from the council before it sets the mil rate in June for the budget year starting July 1 with implementation of revaluation of taxable property.

The six yes votes came from Evette Brantley, Aidee Nieves, Jose Casco, AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia, Denese Taylor-Moye and Council President Tom McCarthy sitting in for Scott Burns who was required to attend to a family matter.

Ganim announced the hiring of Chapman shortly after his return to office in December for $64,000 for a six-month period. Ganim would like to keep Chapman around for at least another six months. Chapman helped to restructure the police department that included making life difficult enough for Joe Gaudett to resign as chief to accept a consulting position overseeing the department’s emergency services. Gaudett received a controversial five-year contract renewal from Bill Finch in the closing days of his mayoralty. Ganim wanted to appoint a police chief of his own and did so on an acting basis with AJ Perez following the Guadett move.

Ganim says hiring 100 new police officers to address a dwindling public safety department is a priority so he may very well use his veto power if funding for the police class is not restored by the full council. He’ll also likely find a way to keep Chapman on board if he wants to stick around.

“Obviously these are both investments in which Mayor Ganim believes strongly,” says Ganim spokesman Av Harris. “The mayor is committed to improving the public safety of Bridgeport so we can seed and germinate better education and more economic growth in our city. Hiring more police officers is essential to that outcome, especially because the manpower in our police department is depleted to dangerously low levels. More officers also cuts down in the budget busting millions the city spends annually on police overtime. Former Chief Chapman brings decades of solid government and police management experience. Mayor Ganim decided to invest in him as a consultant and use his wisdom and understanding to help us reorganize our public safety agencies. These efforts are already seeing success and will save taxpayers millions of dollars while making our city safer–dividends far greater than the price of Mr. Chapman’s contract.”



  1. They should have cut Ed Adams as well. Completely Useless. No major savings but a message superfluous and meaningless positions have no place considering the budget.

  2. Mind you, it is Av Harris speaking and not the Mayor, but don’t we all assume he is speaking for the Mayor? “The mayor is committed to improving the public safety of Bridgeport so we can seed and germinate better education and more economic growth in our city.”
    Perhaps this is a listing of the Mayor’s priorities, missing from pre-budget discussions by Mayor Joe or Av. Public Safety is most important. Then we can plant seeds for better education (whatever that means because germination can take a long time in education) and then economic growth (about which the requested OPED Capital Grant list used $2 Million to “invest” in affordable housing, 84 units, without providing “fiscal analysis” as to the expected education, public safety, and other costs for such development. (Yes, the units are taxable at 100% but when you counter the repayment for 20 years of $2 Million principal and interest, you have less than half of the taxes payable, if they are paid in a timely manner, available to cover routine City expenses. A good deal from an “economic development viewpoint?” Time will tell.

    1. Perhaps the City can use the money saved by the elimination of Chapman’s job to pay for the legally mandated test for a new Chief of Police.

      1. When will Police Chief Perez’ title change from “Acting” Police Chief to “Provisional” Chief like was done for Police Chief Gaudett and Fire Chief Rooney and then allow Chief Perez to retire but still be the Police Chief?

    2. Av Harris, if you want to reduce crime and the need for police officers, you invest in public education. Investing in police officers does NOT improve educational outcomes.

      Your public statement has no basis in reality.

  3. Phil Smith, added to that list, the Civil Service, which has been without for seven years and the Fire Department, which will be without in one month.

  4. The delay in the police class does not represent lucid thinking by the Council. The mayor should veto the Council budget until it finds other, less critical areas to cut such that the timing of the new police cadet class is moved back to the original schedule. Funding basic aspects of public safety should be non-negotiable. (Take the $2 million “investment” for Stamford affordable housing must also be eliminated from the budget. That, and the restoration of the PD class, should be done regardless of any other budget considerations.)

    Good vote, Anthony Paoletto!

  5. So Jeff,
    When you are congratulating Councilman Paoletto on his vote you are supporting the mayor’s budget that flat funds education, cuts the library by $1M, gives the police union everything they wanted and shoves the bill down the throat of all the taxpayers, right?
    And you do not think this plays into the hands of the Southwestern Fairfield County business community’s mindset about Bridgeport’s uneducated workforce?

  6. Bob: I complimented Anthony on voting against a budget with too many stupid cuts and not enough smart cuts. (You don’t think public safety is a priority?!) How would you have voted? And, “Southwestern Fairfield County business community MINDset” is a contradiction in terms. Look at what a horrible economy the business community has rendered in SW CT. Their “mindset” is irrelevant. They are happy to use Bridgeport workers, just not in Bridgeport and not for living-wage jobs. Bridgeport is red-lined out of the good jobs in Fairfield County. When our young people reach levels of education and training that demand LIVING-WAGE jobs, they move away. Educate yourself about TODAY’S/Bridgeport’s reality, Bob. You did say you were voting for BERNIE?

      1. Lennie,
        “They tell me,” presumably one or more members of the B&A Committee of the City Council?
        “exact number,” an interesting concept but one that might work if you were looking for ACCOUNTABILITY and HONESTY.
        “they eliminated many,” part time, full time, seasonal, grants funded, etc. etc. Who is they? The Mayor’s new Table of Organization? (Has anyone seen it or a reference to it?) A list of those who have become “retired,” “let go,” superfluous to current City concept, or terminated otherwise? (The closest charts shown to CC as of two weeks ago showed those departing in whatever manner so far had a similar number incoming though one cannot tell whether with new job descriptions, unknown to last year’s budget, where cuts have been made if any.)
        Verify, so as to trust? (Too strange a concept even in a “SECOND CHANCE” situation?) Changing employment categories in the budget book and Actual Years to be compared so as to give the Council, the interested public, and any taxpayers so curious as to look less reliable data with which to make comparisons? A slap in the face to TRANSPARENCY? Lennie, does Mayor Joe have laryngitis currently? Time will tell.

  7. *** Let’s remember the young Paoletto is new to this budget process and seems to only be voting with his feelings and not his head. I thought the B&A did a fair job in this difficult process however I wonder how much help the outside accounting firm was to them. Working over the rainy weekend showed commitment on their part to get this budget in somewhat perspective but it’s the Mayor’s next move on the financial chessboard, no? ***

  8. Jeff,
    The budget vote by the B & A committee is all about politics, not policy. In case you have not heard, Council President Tom McCarthy is running for State Senate. Council President Tom McCarthy is calling the Mayor’s bluff.
    He will campaign on the fact he cut the horrendous tax hike Mayor Ganim proposed.
    I found more money for education when Mayor Ganim refused to.
    And then every night before he goes to bed he will get on his knees, and pray violence does not raise its ugly head before primary day.
    Plain and simple.
    Did you ever see him before as Council President take any moves as bold as this one? NO.

  9. By the way, will someone riddle me this?
    Senator Gomes helped pass legislation to delay a payment of around $7 million dollars for public safety pensions. Since this was not recognized as savings in the council’s recommendations, does that mean Mayor Ganim NEVER put this money in his recommended budget to begin with?
    If so, that took a lot of balls and he owes Gomes BIG TIME.
    If not, what happened to that money?

    1. SB42 advanced by Senator Gomes removed $4.8 Million from City funds due for former Plan B now MERS Police, I believe. That is probably line 52918 located in the Police Dept budget on page 117, a “new item” as this listing under Police Administration indicates it was not part of Finch’s “hand-me-down budget” courtesy of Tom Sherwood though it is shown as FY 2016 YTD that may mean it was paid, or at least included as a responsibility by the new OPM.
      Such a sum in SB42 would not be payable for four years into the future, and then $2.8 Million would be deferred for two years and the $25 Million or so will be paid to the State in those after years the public nor the Council ever look at. Not my problem, I guess. But if the deferral of $24-25 Million results in paying $53-57 Million in later years, what do we think? Do retirees receiving pension benefits or Other Post Employment Benefits currently have any representation as retirees from the union that negotiated unsustainable plans and benefits? Who will cry when the crash occurs and adjustments are made? Shouldn’t the public look at price tags at the time of purchase? Time will tell.

  10. Trying to figure out Bridgeport Politics can really make a guy crazy. For example: Tom McCarthy is Mario Testa’s buddy from what I gather. Yet McCarthy is pushing back at Ganim with a ferociousness the likes of which must be new to him, because it sure is to all of us. How do these games not pit Testa against Ganim? What in hell is the end game? McCarthy is acting like a total A-hole concerned only with himself.


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