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City Budget Committee Vote Expected On Saturday, State Budget Creates Trepidation

May 6th, 2016 · 10 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Budget, City Council, News and Events

There’s still a lot of moving parts in Mayor Joe Ganim’s proposed $560 million budget as the Budget and Appropriations Committee prepares to vote on the spending plan on Saturday with a full City Council vote Monday or Tuesday night.

For one thing, the council will approve its own version of the budget before the state legislature puts the final touches on its budget for a scheduled special session next week. The city budget relies heavily on the state spending plan and city bean counters are trying to determine what will likely pass on the state level that won’t derail Ganim’s revenue guesstimates from the state.

The budget committee led by Scott Burns and Denese Taylor-Moye has spent the past month reviewing Ganim’s budget and meeting with department heads. There appears to be sentiment among council members to trim back Ganim’s proposed increase to public safety and infuse the flat-funded Board of Education with additional dough.

Meanwhile, the person who arguably knows more about the city budget than anyone on the planet, the recently retired Tom Sherwood, has been hired by a city union to provide advice on Ganim’s budget that seeks $5 million in union concessions.

After the full council votes on the budget, it goes back to Ganim for possible veto action. The council will set the mil rate in June for the budget year starting July 1 when the revaluation of taxable property kicks in. Ganim asserts that his budget adoption includes a tax cut for 60 percent of residential homeowners while others will experience an increase and some stay the same, with an expected higher tax shift to businesses.

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • Mojo

    *** What exactly does the B&A committee’s revised city budget look like and/or call for? How much fat have they found to cut or secret city line item pots of gold hiding that can be tapped into for a little more education money? What help or changes were made in the overall budget process with the hired help the city council voted for? Bottom line is the Mayor’s got a proposed $560 million budget; what did the B&A come up with? ***

  • Bob Walsh

    None, Mojo. Do you really think that Motley Crew is capable of real budget overhaul?

  • John Marshall Lee

    The City Council had five public ‘hearings’ this year. With the exception of the third one, the public was not present and protesting. Parents, teachers, paras and administration did speak to the obvious lack of priority education of 22,000 youth represents to Ganim. They represented what they may need to do if the $15 Million hole remains after CC patching.

    For someone like me who listens to many people about money issues, I do hear, again and again, the comment about the “big people” in administration (both City and BOE) who do not seem to be earning their expense. Real or unreal, that is a frequent perception. Why is that? Perhaps there is some truth.

    Maybe Organizational charts that can show the positions earning the so-called big bucks can be posted. Show the responsibilities simply. Indicate the hours generally worked. And maybe some comparison with compensation in a year with folks who get the big bucks due to overtime. And then do some pension comparisons. Maybe we can move enough numbers around so what is unfair in City employment and compensation becomes aware to all. Time will tell.

  • Bob Walsh

    The only moving parts in Ganim’s budget is the mil rate and for sure it is moving up from where it is today.

  • Bob Walsh

    JML thinks the answer to Bridgeport’s budget crisis is an org chart. Wow. He is as out of touch with reality as the B & A Committee.

    • Ron Mackey

      Bob, you know JML is a professor and as such his goal is to teach, as for results, those can come later.

      • Ron Mackey

        John Marshall Lee puts in his own free time to educate and to inform not only elected officials but the entire public. At times the information goes way over the heads of those he’s tying to reach but what that may mean is those officials need to communicate with JML to get a better understanding. I don’t always agree with JML but I respect him as a person who truly cares about people and I respect his effort to make Bridgeport live within its means. Time will tell.

  • Frank Gyure

    I respect the immense time and effort JML puts into his fiscal oversight endeavors. He does have his own style of writing which involves questions, some answers, some questions that cannot be answered. His style is very much in the mode of the Socratic method of teaching. Questions are asked and the audience (students) begin their own voyage of discovery. As far as the City of Bridgeport and the points made here in this thread by JML, any city government/administration will be inherently political and will put out info that puts its own efforts into the best possible light. This is probably true of all levels of government but it is probably easier to “try” to “understand” a smaller unit of government such as a city like Bridgeport versus analyzing the Federal Government. I am not sure any “political” administration would provide the answers or analyses JML has been seeking. It would require a TRULY INDEPENDENT analysis entity to get this information OR citizens can pursue laws that would force governments to provide what may be construed and trusted as 100% impartial information. Some people are asking for a Financial Oversight Board considering today’s fiscal crisis in Bridgeport. The State of Connecticut is going through a bit of fiscal crisis as I speak. I have felt this city should file Chapter IX bankruptcy forcing the State to put in place a Financial Review board. Some here have felt bankruptcy is not the answer nor are we under the conditions that would even allow a filing. I wonder how else can a Financial Oversight Board be put in place especially when the present administration objects. How can we get the answers to the questions and analysis JML has provided?

  • Mojo

    *** JUST TELL IT LIKE IT IS, JML. THE COUNCIL’S B&A COMMITTEE MAY MEAN WELL BUT IN REALITY THEY DON’T HAVE A CLUE AND WILL NOT TAKE THE TIME TO VENTURE TOWARDS A BETTER WAY NOR RESEARCH HOW OTHER URBAN CITIES AND/OR TOWNS WITH SIMILAR POPULATIONS AND BUDGETS REVIEW THEIR YEARLY GOV. OPERATING BUDGET. ALSO, WHAT HAS THE ACCOUNTING FIRM THE B&A COMMITTEE HIRED EITHER TAUGHT OR DID DIFFERENTLY IN WORKING TOWARDS THE CITY BUDGET? *** WHOOP ***

  • John Marshall Lee

    Thank you OIB readers. What Lennie has done for us is to provide a field where information, facts and figures, including history can be presented by a variety of storytellers. Some stories are limited with few characters and a single time in history for context.

    I find the City financial beat is much different. Revenues come in to the City and expenses depart daily, and the balance sheets, if able to be reviewed also change daily. But it is very difficult for the public to get accurate info that can be compared, year to year, or for a few years to see trends with accuracy.

    It has been said Ganim1 had good advisers especially as regards fiscal practice. But Ganim1 had moral lapses that resulted in criminal charges and penalties that have been satisfied. And Finch’s eight years left people looking for fiscal relief anyway, so Ganim2 came onstage amid discussion of “second chances.” (Personally I am waiting for “first chances” in the City in many forms but that is a subject for another day.) Second chances call for an attitude of “trust but verify” more soundly than usual.

    Have you seen any indication of “trustworthy” invitations to verification in Ganim2′s first 150 days? Care to share them with us?

    Did the Mayor identify priorities that can be carried out in FY2017 in his budget? NO.
    Did the format of the annual operating budget provide more or less data and room to verify than last year? Actually less info in terms of accurate employment figures, current, planned and/or vacant. Where have there been cuts in employment that are permanent because of efficient management and that will save taxpayers funds? Anyone?

    Active sworn police employment steadily down for several years? Any comments during that time from Police Commission Chair Roach, now Ganim2′s right hand? Re Police Commission “not our job?”
    Multiyear crime statistics trending down almost year after year as true in many poor urban cities like Bridgeport despite sporadic upticks. But settlement of 2012 Police Contract with police pension transferred to State of CT without telling the City the real expense is a gross example of Mayoral secrecy. And the Police are up for another contract this year. Who is negotiating for the taxpayer? Tom McCarthy? Av Harris? Or an invisible John Doe whose email has not been set up yet?
    Who speaks for the 22,000 school children day in and day out? If people (voters and taxpayers) like simple stories, who is wearing the hero colors for the youth, and who is the enemy operating in the dark?
    When will OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST show up in this administration now that they are in office? For my readers who are frustrated by questions, remember we live our lives by living the questions, finding the facts such as they are, searching for more truth, practicing patience and respect for others in our search. Nobody is perfect, but we all can do better than our current practice shows. Live all of the questions. Time will tell.

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