Budget Lends Libraries Lots Less

Bridgeport’s heralded public library system is facing a major haircut in Mayor Joe Ganim’s proposed spending plan for the budget year starting July 1. If you’re a fan of library branches and education spending, the City Council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee will conduct public hearings on the budget this week, first on Tuesday for the library and Board of Education and then on Thursday for the general budget. Both hearings will start at 6 p.m. in City Council Chambers.

The Library Board requested $7 million. Ganim’s spending proposal has plugged in $5.8 million. The library’s current year budget that ends June 30 is $6.8 million. So the reduction, if it holds, is significant. See proposed library budget here.

Depending on what happens at the state level, the budget year starting July 1 with the implementation of revaluation of taxable property could be fugly. Governor Dan Malloy has proposed a whole bunch of cuts to municipalities in order to close a $1 billion projected state budget deficit. Ganim is trying to rally the state legislature to restore Malloy’s cuts that would require a combination of dramatic spending reductions and higher taxes for July 1. Ganim’s proposed budget relies heavily on state financial support.

Library supporters assert Ganim’s budget would cripple branches at a time major infrastructure improvements are on the horizon.

The full council will also meet Monday at 7 p.m. See agenda here. Addendum here.

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15 comments

  1. Ganim gets worse by the day. The people of Bridgeport voted to set aside a specific mil rate going towards specifically the Bridgeport Public Library. This decision by the people of Bridgeport was unprecedented. Ganim does not care one iota for nor respects the will of the people of Bridgeport. How in God’s name did we get into this crappy situation with Ganim?

  2. This city is so crooked. I can’t wait until Joey raises taxes. Raising taxes has worked so well thus far, surely just raising them a little bit more will solve all our problems.

    1. Local Eyes,
      When you look at a major driver of increased budget appropriations this year, you will see Public Safety employment and increase in pension payments accounts for many millions. In Bridgeport the only retirement plans for public employees are DEFINED BENEFIT plans. Stamford has begun using DEFINED CONTRIBUTION plans in a couple places in recent years as private employers have for 30-40 years now. Overtime expenses paid to current public safety employees in Stamford does not create larger retirement incomes nor largely unmanageable current expenses. A brief conversation with Mayor David Martin of Stamford one week ago revealed that information to me.
      You have to dig deeper than comparing tax increase numbers to make a meaningful point. Turn the degrees up beyond warm into the boiling zone and let’s distill some greater truth, LE. Time will tell.

  3. Libraries are a prime candidate for regionalization. There is no need to duplicate efforts and expenses for each and everything a library offers.
    Our Trumbull library is often busy with Bridgeport residents using materials not available or checked out in Bridgeport. I have used the main Bridgeport library for genealogical research because of materials not available in Trumbull. Your library card is good in most public libraries statewide. With the shift to on-line content, borrowing e-books can significantly lower costs.
    Our kids don’t need to go to the branch library to use the World Book Encyclopedia to do homework. Printed encyclopedias are out of date before the ink is dry. Today, that research is available quickly on line and usually free.

  4. Nearly one-third of U.S. households (32 percent) lack broadband service.
    Despite the growing importance of the Internet in American life, 28 percent of Americans do not use the Internet at all. Low-income and minority Americans disproportionately find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide.

  5. Maybe they’re part of the 28 percent. Nobody is discriminating against those without broadband. That’s not a digital divide, that’s digital indifference.

  6. Mil Rate Calculation

    Each year, council, during its budgetary process, approves the amount of revenue required to operate the municipality. From this amount they subtract the known revenues, such as grants, licenses, permits and so on. The remainder represents the amount of money to be raised by property taxes. The amount to be raised is divided by the total value of all the property in the municipality and multiplied by 1,000 to decide the tax rate, also known as the “mil rate.” The calculation expressed as an equation is as follows:

    amount to be raised
    total taxable assessment
    X 1,000 = Mil Rate
    The word “mil” is derived from the Latin word for one thousand (1,000). In tax terms, one mil is equal to 1/1000 of a dollar or one dollar ($1.00) in tax for every one thousand dollars ($1,000) of assessment.

    A sample calculation:

    A town needs $30,000 to balance its budget. The total taxable assessment for all properties is $5,000,000.

    $30,000 (amount to be raised)
    $5,000,000 (total taxable assessment)
    X 1,000 = 6 = Mil Rate
    The mil rate must be applied uniformly throughout the community, although certain properties, such as churches and schools are exempt from real property tax. Council, itself, may exempt certain property owners from paying property tax. That is why the mil rate is calculated on the total taxable assessment.

    Property Tax Calculation

    The amount of municipal tax payable by a property owner is calculated by multiplying the mil rate by the assessed value of a property and dividing by 1000.

    Mil Rate x Assessed Value / 1,000
    = Property Tax Bill
    Using 6 as the Mil Rate, a taxpayer with a property valued at $55,000 would be sent a tax bill for $330.

    6 x $55,000 / 1,000
    = $330
    Using this simple calculation means we’re flucked!

    1. Jim Fox and others have been attempting to use a mil rate on the G2 budget well in advance of an opportune moment, in my opinion. Has the public come out to listen to the questions at the meetings scheduled? Were they out for the Capital Budget review last Wednesday night? NO. Are they reading the budget book? Not so you would notice with references to page numbers (Library FY2017 Page 326 for current info referenced above, Library FY 2013, 2014, and 2015 in FY 2016 Page 334).
      The material is out there for you to see. Dig like a watchdog does, to reveal the hidden bones, certainly not to allow info to remain buried. By the way, the format from last year not only showed FTE 2015 and FTE 2016, but also Vacant, New and Unfilled, a format that provides lots of good info while this year provides only one previous ACTUAL year and ignores the concept of Vacant, New, and Unfilled. Why was the format from last year not followed, do you think? Time will tell.

  7. The Library Budget actually spent:
    FY 2013 5,974,981
    FY 2014 6,517,135
    FY 2015 6,829,089
    The FY 2016 budget shows $6,829,089 with only $4.87 Million expended in this year.
    The FY 2017 Mayor proposed is $5,825,185 after the Library requested $7 Million.

    Could it be about buildings? The two or three locations on the East Side and East End, long ignored by City Hall unless there was a photo-op. There are three on the drawing board with land acquisition on going.

    The Personnel summary show 55 employees proposed for 2017FY for $2,777,650 while last year the total was 53 for $3,038,767. A reduction in book purchases, a freeze in special services and some salary reductions create this opportunity. What is the Chief Librarian saying? What is the Library Board saying? Time will tell.

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