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City Council Unanimously Approves No-Tax-Increase Budget

May 9th, 2017 · 28 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Budget, City Council, City Politics, News and Events

In a nearly empty chambers, the 20-member City Council Monday night unanimously approved a nearly $542 million budget that reflected the modest budget committee changes to Mayor Joe Ganim’s spending plan that calls for no tax increase for the fiscal year starting July 1.

The budget now goes back to the mayor for two weeks for possible veto action, returns to the council for a potential override before the setting of the mil rate in June. Any changes the mayor makes to the budget depend largely on the state budget situation in Hartford that decides the flow of state dollars to the city.

Striking was the lack of taxpayer turnout to the council chambers. About 30 members of the public watched the proceedings with at least 20 of them either city employees or potential City Council campaign challengers.

Council members expressed some disagreements over revenue and spending adjustments such as $3.1 million more for city schools and $1 million less for police overtime but unanimously approved the larger budget package in an election year.

East End councilor Eneida Martinez, for one, expressed skepticism for more school funds because “there’s no accountability of the school board.”

Others such as North End councilors Michelle Lyons and Jeanette Herron did not want to cut the police department.

Budget committee co-chair Scott Burns noted the city is “working in a vacuum” because of the state budget chaos. “This is a lean budget to help the city grow.”

Several potential City Council challengers were in the audience such as former State Rep. Bob Keeley, Anne Pappas Phillips, a long-time member of the city’s Zoning Commission, former Ganim administration official Michael Giannotti and former councilor Melanie Jackson.

City Council President Tom McCarthy said he wanted to get through the budget process first before deciding his reelection plans. It’s likely a majority of the 10 council districts will experience Democratic primaries in September.

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28 Comments so far ↓

  • Joseph Sokolovic

    Just wondering which shell the marble is hiding other and will actual ADDITIONAL funds reach the classroom. Wool the budget increase only to have the Mayor charge the School System an oxygen use fee? Tired of all the smoke and mirrors.

  • Jimfox

    How hard is it, to balance a Ganim Gimmick Budget???

  • Maria Pereira

    I want every single individual that reads OIB to be fully aware that the Mayor & City Council did NOT increase the appropriation to the Board of Education by $3.1 million. This is an ABSOLUTE lie.

    The Budget Mayor Ganim,Nestor and Flatto provided to the City Council reduced the BOE’s appropriation by $2.7 million in direct violation of state law regarding the city and state’s “minimum” funding obligation to its schools.

    For Scott Burns, Tom McCarthy or any city council member to blatantly mislead the public by making statements to the press that they increased the BOE’s appropriation by $3.1 next year can only be categorized as completely unethical and dishonest.

    The City Council put back the $2.7 million that was ILLEGALLY reduced and then added $396,000.

    In addition, Tom McCarthy shared with me that the City still intends to charge the BOE for $860,000 for crossing guards which is a violation of state law. The City can spend $1 of the BOE’s appropriation.

  • Donald Day

    East End councilor Eneida Martinez, for one, expressed skepticism for more school funds because “there’s no accountability of the school board.”

    What the hell is wrong with this lady, the accountability is the BBOE school board. Look ignorant lady your job is to get the money for our children, the BBOE has the job of deciding where it’s spent. Just do your damn job and let them do theirs because you both are supposed to be doing what’s best for the children of Bridgeport not what’s best for Joe Ganim or the DTC.

    • Ron Mackey

      Don, speaking of the accountability of the BBOE school board and the BBOE has the job of deciding where it’s spent. What I don’t see is the BBOE commenting the school budget and the City’s budget, the only thing I read are comments from one BBOE member, Maria Pereira. There is truly no power and influence from just one person speaking out, the real power is when the BBOE as a whole makes a statement. BBOE just do your damn job.

      • Lisa Parziale

        Ron and Donald, you are both correct. all members of the BBOE should have been present and speaking with Council members to make their case. They should all have one goal in common, the kids of Bridgeport; that’s whether they like each other or not. Maybe it’s time I spoke before the next BBOE meeting to let my voice be heard regarding the lack of theirs. I have a few good friends serving, and in my opinion are genuinely concerned, however, one doesn’t, nor should one do it alone.

  • Maria Pereira

    Eneida Martinez’ statement is pretty absurd.

    Under state law, if the BOE does not balance its budget and overspend, we are personally liable for the over expenditure.

    Unlike the City Council, we do not receive a $9,000 stipend.

    We made incredibly and painful decisions last year by cutting $15,000,000 last year, and them we had to offset another $1,250,000 cut we received notice of well into the school year.

    Can someone tell me when the City Council recently did the same?

    I chuckled when I saw that the Mayor increased the appropriation for marketing from $75,000 to $200,000 and it was a big deal that $25,000 was cut. Marketing doesn’t directly impact a resident or someone’s future success, but it will receive a $100,000 increase. Meanwhile, 21,0000 students are only worth $396,000.

    Let that sink in.

  • Bob Walsh

    Marketing helps elect the mayor governor.
    Simple math.

  • Bob Walsh

    Tom McCarty
    The budget is done. The mayor vetoes your change or not.
    You override his veto or not.
    Get off your ass and tell the city what you’re gonna do.

  • Ernie Newton

    We are in serous trouble, Our City Council Braggs about not Raising TAXES because its an ELECTION Year. The VOTERS will not forget them voting for higher Taxes Last Year. OUR City Council a Majority of them are self serving. Family Member friends who Work for the CITY some of them GOT RAISES IN THIS BUDGET, And OUR CHILDREN GOT Nothing! ITS TIME FOR US TO TAKE IT TO THE STREETS. 10 MURDERDS Already and Summer is not here yet. Now I must say this, Our board of ED and OUR Police Dept is to Damm TOP HEAVY, Top 100 earners are Police Fire and Administrators in the Bd of ED..

  • Donald Day

    Ernie, who the hell is this Martinez lady and how the hell did she get elected from the 139th? You have Dunbar School which is one of the lowest performing schools in the state and she’s 2nd guessing getting the children a few extra dollars to educate our children. This defies credulity and all logic that there should be any trepidation with respect to financing the future of the school children of Bridgeport.

    Ernie, I know you have a genuine concern and love for the East End, but the community and the residents deserve better than this fool. It’s time for you and Dr. Ford to do what’s right, what’s moral and what’s just and in the best interest of the East End and this lady does not fit that criteria.

  • Bob Walsh

    If she does not fit, you must acquit.

  • Ernie Newton

    DON let me say this Ms Martinez,She has been a Strong VOICE in OUR Community. She has fought many battles by her self. We have many Great things happening in the EASTEND because of her and she doesn’t have family members or her self working for the City.I have decided to RUN for the City COUNCIL to give it some LEADERSHIP so badly NEEDED. DON she has been a Strong Advocate along with ME Fighting the issue in Our COMMUNITY!

    • Ron Mackey

      Ernie, what has council member Martinez done for the 139th district?

    • Maria Pereira

      Eneida Martinez daughter works in the tax assessors office, and she may have another immediate family member on the payroll.

      Ernie, I find it hard to believe you don’t know that.

      • Maria Pereira

        I meant “tax collector’s”, not “tax assessor”.

        • Maria Pereira

          Clearly, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

          I received the following Facebook message from Eneida Martinez’ daughter:

          “Maria Pereira please don’t add me to any of your political conversations. I am a well respectable individuals who stays neutral and am not involved in politics or my mothers affairs. With that being said my name should not be involved in any conversations you have. You don’t know me as I don’t know you. HOWEVER, I DO HOLD A DEGREE FOR THE POSITION I AM ON THE PAYROLL FOR WITH THE CITY OF BRIDGEPORT FOR YOUR INFORMATION.”

          Does anyone in this family understand our right to Freedom of Speech? Does anyone in this family understand that if there are individuals who have even less protections, it’s elected, public, or taxpayer funded employees.

          I simply posted that Eneida Martinez’ daughter works on the city payroll in the Tax Collector’s office, which is a fact.

          Unbelievable

    • Ron Mackey

      Ernie, it was Ordinance Committee Co-Chair Martinez who gave us the new meter system that Judge Carmen Lopez had to fight against for all of us. That was a ordinance design to steal money from the taxpayers and to hurt the downtown business.

  • Maria Pereira

    We discovered that a charter school was looking to purchase the Catholic Center on Jewett Ave. My guess is it is Dr. Perry’s Capital Prep Harbor Charter School. They are already 6-12 Grade and their charter allows them to expand to K-5.

    So instead of having a magnet school from Pre-k 3 -8, they could have a k-12 with over 700 students. And if Classical Academy was blocked in any way due to racial bias, the charter school is not over 90% minority, it over 90% Black.

    The property is already zoned as a school, no City Council approval is needed and they can move in this year.

    Karma

  • Maria Pereira

    LOL! Now I was just told the Catholic Center property is being pursued for low income housing.

  • Michael Bottillo

    That’s good no tax increase,still need to go down they are to high

  • invincible

    Ernie,Eneida Martinez daughter works for the city. that was the former mayor way of saying thank for her vote and support during his struggle for the mayor’s seat. Shouting on facebook and photo ops, does not make a good council, nor using foul language. No, muy Bueno!

  • John Marshall Lee

    Thousands of appropriation lines in Department budgets supposedly reviewed in some manner by the Budget & Appropriations Committee and other City Council persons, and they found only 55 line items worthy of a cut?

    When they began the process, did they have a final copy of the 2016 and 2015 Fiscal Year results after audit? Could they see what is appropriated every year yet goes unspent? Is that worthy of a decrease when hard times are on us, or the Council wishes to make a difference with educational funding, rather than a posturing statement or photo-op? It has always been possible to perform real budget analysis, and make changes based on that, but is it done? The Council may have to return to the table this year because of the increasingly desperate position of the State of CT. Time will tell.

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