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Carving Up The City To Suburbs, Careful What You Wish For

July 8th, 2016 · 46 Comments · Analysis and Comment

downtown aerial

Carving up Bridgeport. Morgan Kaolian aerial.

Okay, let’s have some fun. Black Rock is apoplectic about absorbing the brunt of the revaluation blow that jacked taxes in the neighborhood to finance city services. For two hours the other night Mayor Joe Ganim listened patiently as homeowners, a majority from that cool Black Rock hamlet, justifiably vented. Most Black Rockers did not vote for Joe in the primary or general election in 2015. Can you imagine if Bill Finch were still mayor? He’d have shouted back, “You Black Rock people have gotten away with tax murder for years!” Some disengaged Rockers want to secede back to Fairfield that once owned a piece of the Park City. Not gonna happen. But why deny dreamers, right?

This is not new. Twenty-five years ago then-State Rep. Lee Samowitz, frustrated by suburban ignorance toward the city, proposed dividing Bridgeport into the suburbs. Before there was a Bridgeport there was a Stratfield. City proper as we know it today was controlled by Stratford to the east and Fairfield to the west. Bridgeport was incorporated as a town in 1821 and a city in 1836. Damned Stratford left all the bridges to Bridgeport.

Just think of the possibilities if Bridgeport were carved up into suburban towns so reliant on the city’s regional services. I’m open to suggestions about the configuration.

Okay, Fairfield gets Black Rock. But how far east do you go? How about all the way to Park Avenue? That way Fairfield absorbs P.T. Barnum Apartments (OMG, public housing!) the entire West End, Captain’s Cove Seaport, the Aquaculture School and West End sewage treatment plant. But Fairfield would also get the regional garbage to energy plant in the West End that generates millions per year in taxes to the city. So that’s not such a bad deal. Big win for Fairfield. Except they get all the beered-up Sacred Heart University kids living and creating havoc in the North End and the resultant drain on public safety. We would need to gerrymander the carve-up to make sure Fairfield gets the party students.

What about Trumbull, which sends Bridgeport all its poop? Since the West End sewage treatment plant is now in Fairfield proper, Trumbull can negotiate sludge fees with Fairfield. Trumbull absorbs its Bridgeport piece with a straight shot down Main Street taking in the North End all the way to UB and Seaside Park, and east to the Pequonnock River.

It will now be called the Trumbull Bluefish.

Trumbull gets all of Downtown, ballpark, arena, Housatonic Community College, all the courthouses too. Trumbull also snags City Hall. Instant revenue. By this configuration, Trumbull also inherits developer Sal DiNardo so he then can negotiate his tax deals with First Selectman Tim Herbst.

Everything east of the Pequonnock River goes to Stratford which means they get Beardsley Park and zoo, Pleasure Beach, the airport, the East End sewage treatment plant and Bridgeport Hospital. Stratford also absorbs former State Senator Ernie Newton and school board member Maria Pereira. Look out, Stratford!

What about the Bridgeport Board of Education? Hey, here’s a solution … abolish it. No one wants it. Let the towns take it over. No wait, here’s a better idea, let the state take it over. What, they already tried that!

And here’s the best part of this land swap, Democratic Town Chair Mario Testa goes to Monroe! Isn’t he there anyway?

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46 Comments so far ↓

  • Frank Gyure

    This is simply NOT REALITY.

  • Robert Teixeira

    Black Rock people SHUT UP! Stop B!#CHING. Your taxes are high and your property value is also. There’s a common reason for this and it is to keep the undesirables out (I won’t go as far as say “black people,” but that crowd was pretty white at City Hall). If you can’t afford to live there then you are no longer part of that financial class to live in the Black Rock neighborhood. It’s just that simple. In the same manner everybody doesn’t own a house on the beach or drive a Lamborghini. If you can’t afford it sell your home (enjoy the fact the value held) to someone who can and buy a home in the section of Bridgeport you can afford or get the F$%K OUT. The mil rate is the same for all homeowners in Bridgeport. PS, Joe please stop saying you lowered taxes for 60% of Bridgeport homeowners. The mil rate went up on them too. If their tax bill stayed the same or went down it is not because you lowered taxes. It’s because the value of their home went down which is not a good thing. Their equity is gone and most owe more than what the home is worth probably. Bam, I’m out.

    • Robert Teixeira

      Also Black Rockers, you can secede to Fairfield any time you want. Sell your home (get the F$%K out) and move to Fairfield. If you can afford it.

    • Frank Gyure

      Robert Teixeira, the property taxes are high in Black Rock because there is insufficient tax base in Bridgeport. The Grand List dropped by a billion dollars and that has continued to shift the property tax burden onto residential properties. I don’t understand this MISCONCEPTION Black Rock is some type of Greenwich in Bridgeport. Most of Black Rock is decidedly middle class/working class. There may be a few higher-value properties right AT St. Mary’s by the Sea. Also, many older people reside in their homes with mortgages pages but they are on a fixed income and property taxes are eating up 30, 40, 50% of their limited income. As for the reason you stated, the taxes are high to keep the undesirables out is a statement of pure ignorance. Taxes cannot be manipulated to keep the “undesirables” out. In terms of the value of our properties, the values have been diminished by the scourge of high property taxes and also the stigma of being ‘a part of’ Bridgeport. As to our financial ability to live in Black Rock, we have seen our taxes rise by thousands and thousands of dollars over the last 15 years, far outpacing inflation or any general wage increases. At the same time, we see a city that is mismanaged and city government is being used for political patronage jobs instead of a government that works for the betterment of its constituents. As for the long-term problems with outsized property taxes, the North End and the Brooklawn areas have also been slammed with exploding property taxes. THE BOTTOM LINE IS ALL OF BRIDGEPORT IS IN TROUBLE; IN FACT WE ARE IN A CRISIS.

      • Lisa Parziale

        I agree Frank, sometimes I get so caught up in what I’m trying to say I make the silliest grammatical and spelling errors.

      • Dave Walker

        Frank, outstanding comment! You accurately address some of the misconceptions regarding Black Rock and the fact the entire City is in serious trouble. Even Mayor Ganim has said Black Rock was not treated fairly as a result of the recent reval and tax increase. The fact is, Bridgeport cannot afford to lose Black Rock. It would be devastating to the City’s finances. That is one reason why we need a Financial Control Board to restructure Bridgeport’s finances ASAP.

    • Robert Teixeira

      Yes! Taxes are based on revenue and those who are leading Bridgeport’s government and their ability to bring development to alleviate the taxes for all of Bridgeport’s homeowners is legitimate.

      The homeowners in the locations you have mentioned can sell their homes for a high price and buy homes in the Hollow section or any other section of town where home values have gone down for a cheap price and with a lower tax burden on it, Right? But why don’t they, because it’s an undesirable location, Right? However while the people who live in the locations you have mentioned can move to this undesirable location, the homeowners in these poorer locations can’t move to the locations you have mentioned, Right?

      This city mismanagement you speak of has kicked the can on this revaluation for years and by doing so the locations you mentioned have been getting a tax break on their property on the backs of the homeowners who property has gone down, Right? And if the State would have let Joe kick the can on the revaluation I think he would have. I don’t think he wanted it, I think Finch wanted to kick the can again. (Just speculation, though.)

      It is not ignorance to speak the truth, if you can’t afford to live in Black Rock then you’re not in the middle class, you are now in the low middle or upper poor class. OR Black Rock has become an upper middle class neighborhood. At the end of the day you called it, class. What financial class are you in?

      Of course Ron and Don will agree on the racial aspect it. Can I get an AMEN?

      PS, you do know you and your NO to O&G gang are trying to stop development to alleviate the tax burden of Bridgeport homeowners, Right? Things that make you go HMMM!

    • Dave Walker

      The fact is all property values go down by a material amount when the mil rate rises by 29%. In addition, Bridgeport tax burdens are already outrageous and among the highest in the country! Furthermore, nothing is being done to address the structural financial challenges the City faces. The status quo is unacceptable and unsustainable for everyone.

  • Bob Walsh

    Lennie,
    Stratford gets Steel Point and Remington Woods. They can’t develop the former Shakespeare Theater.
    It should be fun watching them try to do something with these two projects. And maybe now they will cut a road into the woods from Stratford and end that nonsense.
    Now Lordship and North Stratford can fight over the airport.

  • Bob Walsh

    And Bridgeport’s debt should be divided proportionally based on the value of properties acquired. This would include unfunded obligations. Walker and JML will have three councils to deal with.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Bob, as afterthoughts on the idea of a geographic breakup of the City keep hitting your funny bone, is it your fantasy that Walker and JML will worry about Councils any longer, any more than you do today, for instance? Maybe we’ll leave our contributions to attempts to have the City move to serve all its people rather than the DTC favorites? I mean Walker has had a sign on his house for a while. After 28 years of living here, perhaps I should move, too. But not because my personal expenses are too high, but because the people of the City have been too comfortable voting the line rather than the person, and that is ignoring the large number who fail to vote. Too easy for corruption to get in. If 2-300 people in the city from all districts were to begin to attend Council Committee meetings regularly, ask some questions, sometimes be told you have no right to speak by a co-chair, other times wait 40 minutes only to find they cannot raise a quorum to proceed, and fail to be provided copies of exhibits they are considering even when there are extras on the table??? Respect??? Nada, too often. Let’s see who will get out the vote for qualified candidates in 2017 for Council. By the way, which Council committee study group will you lead? Time will tell.

  • BOE SPY

    Large land areas and small populations do make it easier to support a budget. BPT only has 16 square miles. It is the most populous city and one of the smallest. That was fine in its manufacturing heyday but once that high-value manufacturing left, BPT had problems.

    Black Rock should also consider this. A $200K house in BPT at 54 mils gives you one tax number. Move that house to Fairfield and you have a $400K house at 26 mils. Your tax bill will be about the same. You still will not be able to afford it. Your investment will be better and your chance of selling may go up but your tax bill will stay about the same.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Stop splitting hairs, the property taxes have been rising and the averaged trend for property values has been decreasing. The recent tax bills connect the increases of personal expense with the decrease in personal wealth with the idea the direction of both in Bridgeport’s future will continue. Did you listen to the statistics on the five homes on Battery Park Drive of the ten there, currently on the market, where the listing prices are in total $1 Million less than the recent revaluation of fair market value on October 1, 2015? And another Black Rock home listed at $399,000 valued at $541,750 because it stands next to an abandoned home? Not in Black Rock you say? The property value, property tax, and fiscal problems show up all over the City, don’t they? Time will tell.

      • BOE SPY

        That is true and the increase in the value of your home investment would be a very good thing. A home is sometimes the only retirement investment some people have. I just wanted to point out the transfer to FF would not necessarily be all milk and honey. You may still see an increase in your tax bill.

        • John Marshall Lee

          In telling the story, you only told half of it, the negative part, and that’s all I was saying. Listen to Fairfield taxpayers who are not happy with revaluations in their town. But at least in spite of GE moves, etc. they have a succession of businesses anxious to use commercial spaces for the most part and not leaving residences in blighted conditions.
          They also have a Finance Board with meetings that can be attended, where questions can be asked, where respectful responses can be expected, with people from different parties who know their stuff, etc. Does that sound like Bridgeport governance? Time will tell.

  • Jeff Kohut

    What some people are forgetting in the midst of the enhanced consciousness of Bridgeport’s crisis is all of Connecticut with the exception of the westernmost wedge of Southwestern Connecticut (essentially Fairfield County minus Bridgeport and half of Fairfield) is experiencing the effects of the mismanagement of the state in the context of the deliberately engineered kneecapping of the American domestic economy. Most of Connecticut is watching an exodus of the local and state tax base to other states and other countries, even as the over-reliance on the residential tax base becomes untenable. Yes, the state, with only the exception of the “Golden Wedge” is experiencing the Bridgeportization of its municipalities to varying degrees. Taxes are going up all over, and people are complaining throughout the state and seeking greener pastures elsewhere.

    The fact the economy of the “Golden Wedge” is being nurtured and protected to the detriment of the rest of the state affords only some political shelter to the politicians in the pockets of Wedge interests. That political shelter is eroding as the rest of the state becomes “Bridgeportized.” The announcement of the exodus of GE to Boston this past year has been a rude awakening to the towns of the “Wedge” who saw a few hedge funds move to Florida in recent years even as the big, offshore banks that established residence in Stamford have begun retreating back to their home bases in Europe.

    So people in Bridgeport, and those looking in at us from without in derision or pity, need to appreciate they shouldn’t ask “for whom the bell tolls,” because, in the context of Brexit and the more local experiences in our own region, we probably don’t really want to hear the answer.

    Really, the people of Bridgeport, if they can muster the will and make a big enough effort and enough noise, can show a lot of other folks in this state and country what needs to be done to regain and retain economic prosperity. And our detractors should be paying attention, because their towns are not immune to sudden changes of fortune in this political/economic environment.

    • BOE SPY

      Not necessarily true. Some CT cities/towns saw a mil rate decrease. The tax implications are a more difficult question as it would depend on the property assessment. Others have stayed the same or had only a moderate increase. What could be considered a ‘cost of living’ inflationary increase. Overall, CT has high property taxes. Here is a chart of CT mil rates. You can also look up the mil rates by year and compare them.
      www .joeshimkus.com/CT-Tax-Rates.aspx
      BPT’s mil rate increase is too recent to be reflected.

      • Lisa Parziale

        Thanks BOE, as a realtor we have updated mil rates at our disposal, but somehow what you posted gives me a greater reality of the disparities.

    • Dave Walker

      Jeff, great comment. You are very correct, Bridgeport is not the only City in the state with serious financial and competitiveness challenges. You are also correct the state has serious related challenges of its own.

  • Grin Ripper

    OPED needs a team of a Finder, a Minder, and a Grinder. Please, no Subway jokes!

  • Frank the Cabana Boy

    Since we are fantasizing lately: Mary-Jane Foster.

  • Donald Day

    Lennie, are you now allowing racial slurs to be blasted all across OIB by that bigoted asshole Jimfox? A camel jockey is an ethnic slur and a term designed to insult others on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nationality, primarily toward people of Arab descent.

    His attempt at humor is just his justification to demean people with his bigoted name-calling and should be stopped immediately if not sooner. I can’t be the only person offended by his use of these racial slurs and even if I am it still should be stopped because it’s wrong, immoral and unjust.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    I agree with you on this one.

  • DC Faber

    “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you will join us, and the world can live as One.”
    That was funny and based on some hypothetical reality that will NEVER happen. Happy Friday, y’all!

  • Mojo

    *** Carve up Bpt however you want, even like Stamford. Problem is, more and more jobs are leaving CT and with no jobs the quality of living drops down big time with a large exit of taxpayers leaving this State for greener pastures! ***

  • Andrew C Fardy

    All this stuff is a waste of time. The country is sliding into an abyss. Last night in Dallas 12 police officers were shot and 5 of those 12 were killed.

    • DC Faber

      Everything is having a real 1968 feel to it, or at least based on the history books I have read, it does. I was not alive in the ’60s.

    • Ron Mackey

      Andy, Dallas Texas is $38 million in the red so I wonder if David Walker would suggest Dallas should reduce the pensions of the Dallas Police Department.

      • Dave Walker

        Ron,
        I used to live in Texas. In addition, I am doing some transformation work for PwC in Texas and several other states. Each state and municipality has to be looked at based on its own situation. Texas is in much, much better shape than Connecticut and Dallas is in much, much better shape than Bridgeport. For example, Texas is in the top tier of states in competitiveness and Connecticut is in the bottom tier.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    DC, I was alive in the ’60s and they sucked, plain and simple. We were at war in Vietnam and American poor youth were getting killed over there while the rich shitheads got deferments. It was not a fun time.

  • Frank Gyure

    i was quite young in the 1960s (I don’t even remember the Beatles), but we are far from the turbulent ’60s.

  • Mojo

    *** Internal chaos once again, as history tends to repeat itself once again from the turbulent ’60s when there was mistrust of the man by the younger independent generation growing up as teens, college students, urban poor and minorities, etc. Religion, war, civil rights, racism, music revolution, the military draft and the cold war memories just to name a few that seem to contribute to the civil unrest of the time. While it had its good points in time, it was also a very unpredictable era in American history. *** Peace, Love, Drugs and Rock & Roll ***

  • Donald Day

    The President’s National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders releases its report, condemning racism as the primary cause of the recent surge of riots. The report, which declared that “our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white–separate and unequal,” called for expanded aid to African American communities in order to prevent further racial violence and polarization. Unless drastic and costly remedies were undertaken at once, the report said, there would be a “continuing polarization of the American community and, ultimately, the destruction of basic democratic values.”

    This was written in the ’60s. That was from the Kerner Commission Report written in 1968, but one could easily think it was written today.

  • Jeff Kohut

    Re-posting of previous statement with clarifications/corrections.

    What some people are forgetting in the midst of the enhanced consciousness of Bridgeport’s ongoing fiscal crisis is all of Connecticut, with the exception of the westernmost wedge of Southwestern Connecticut (essentially Fairfield County minus Bridgeport), is experiencing the effects of the mismanagement of the state in the context of the deliberately engineered kneecapping of the American domestic economy. Most of Connecticut is watching an exodus of the local and state tax base to other states and other countries, even as the over-reliance on the residential tax base becomes untenable. Yes, the state, with only the exception of the aforementioned “Golden Wedge” is experiencing the Bridgeportization of its municipalities to varying degrees. Taxes are going up all over, and people are complaining throughout the state and seeking greener pastures elsewhere.

    The fact the economy of the “Golden Wedge” is being nurtured and protected by the state and federal government, to the detriment of the rest of the state, affords only some political shelter to the politicians in the pockets of Wedge interests. That political shelter is eroding as the rest of the state becomes “Bridgeportized.” The announcement of the exodus of GE to Boston this past year has been a rude awakening to the towns of the “Wedge” who saw a few hedge funds move to Florida in recent years even as the big, off-shore banks that established residence in Stamford have begun retreating back to their home bases in Europe.

    So people in Bridgeport, and those looking in at us from without in derision or pity, need to appreciate they shouldn’t ask “for whom the bell tolls,” because, in the context of Brexit and the more local experiences in our own region, we probably don’t really want to have the answer to that question.

    Really, the people of Bridgeport, if they can muster the will and make a big enough effort and enough noise, can show a lot of other folks in this state and country what needs to be done to regain and retain economic prosperity. And our detractors should be paying attention, because their towns are not immune to sudden changes of fortune in this political/economic environment.

  • Dave Walker

    I believe we need to make an independent Financial Control Board our top local priority. It is clearly needed and would benefit all areas within Bridgeport. It can be a bridge to bring us together rather than divide people apart. It is in state’s interest and can be done by the legislature. I also believe it is in the Mayor and City Council’s interest if they want to improve the City’s competitive posture, grow the tax base, reduce future tax burdens and avoid bankruptcy. Many Mayors and City Councils are responsible for where we are. We need to focus on what needs to be done to create a better future.

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