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Council Committee Approves Budget, No Tax Increase

May 6th, 2017 · 23 Comments · City Budget, City Council, News and Events

The City Council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee on Saturday essentially approved Mayor Joe Ganim’s proposed $542 million spending plan with some alterations including $3 million more for schools and cutting police overtime account by $1 million. Ganim has come under fierce criticism by education advocates for short changing the school budget.

Scott Burns, co-chair of the committee, wrote in a statement to OIB “there is no way we could raise taxes, even in this uncertain state budget environment. And we made a significant investment in education as no council has in quite a while. If state funds don’t materialize, we’re ready to make very difficult decisions. A tough budget, but reflects the priorities of the committee.”

Burns referenced the tenuous state budget process that decides the flow of dollars to the city. The state legislature has yet to pass a budget so local officials have plugged in anticipatory state dollars to the city.

Ganim, who has formed an exploratory committee for governor, must hold the line on taxes to gain any chance for statewide traction. In addition he needs to create some confidence among taxpayers and the investment community following last year’s budget process that saw businesses and several neighborhoods hit hard with the implementation of property revaluation.

The budget now goes to the full City Council for a scheduled vote Monday night. The budget plan then returns to Ganim for possible veto action followed by the council’s setting of the mil rate in June for the budget year starting July 1.

CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart has more here

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23 Comments so far ↓

  • Steven Auerbach

    Good Job!- More money for education.. No Tax increase.That works..

  • Maria Pereira

    This article promotes a $3.1 million dollar increase, but then references the BOE being “flat funded”.

    I have requested clarification and am awaiting a response.

    What about the library? The City was refusing to give them the 1 mil voters passed overwhelmingly at the polls.

    • Jimfox

      So Burns, you removed $1 Million from the the police overtime account, then restored BBOE $3.1 Million and still Balanced the (Bridge Mayor’s) budget?
      Please tell us Scott Burns where the Fluck did you come up with the $2.1 million for the BBoE?
      Flatto’s back pocket?
      You and Ganim already gave us the hightest Tax increase in Bridgeport history!

    • Maria Pereira

      Well, well, well, I was 100% right that the public was being mislead. Here is the email I sent to Tom McCarthy, Scott Burns and Denise Moye with the B & A City Council members copied:

      ” Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Burns & Ms. Moye,

      I find the attached CT Post article confusing.

      http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Council-committee-holds-taxes-steady-boosts-11126985.php

      It references an increase of $3.1 million, but then describes the appropriation as “flat funded”.

      In recapping our joint meeting of April 20th; I incorrectly referenced that Nestor has “illegally” reduced the City’s contribution by to the MBR by $3.3 million. I later determined it was actually reduced by $2.7 million because although Nestor had emailed Ms. Seigel that he intended to further reduce the City’s MBR by $500,000; it was not reflected in the budget already represented to the City Council.

      I am attempting to clarify the confusing CT Post article.

      Am I correct that the City Council increased the City’s MBR back to this years appropriation by the $2.7 million Nestor unlawfully reduced it by, AND then increased the City’s MBR contribution by an additional $3.1 million?

      I want to make sure that the City did NOT only appropriate $3.1 over the unlawful budget you were initially presented with which would only increase the City’s MBR contribution by $400,000.

      Please note that Malloy’s Special Education Pool which was supposed to generate an additional $8,000,000 for the BBOE, is dead in Hartford. In addition, the shift of teacher pension costs is dead as well.

      The Republican Budget calls for the BBOE to LOSE $2,000,000 which is ludicrous. The Education Committee only passed a budget out of committee increasing the BBOE by $252,000 stating they had to do so to meet a deadline so that there was a proposal to at least work with.

      Would Mr. McCarthy, Mr. Burns or Ms. Moye please respond.”

      • Maria Pereira

        Here is Tom McCarthy’s response which clearly validates my suspicions that in essence, the BOE is not receiving one extra $, we are actually losing $460,000 in violation of state law.

        Tom McCarthy & Scott Burns should be disgraced that they so flagrantly attempted to mislead the press and the public with their claim that they had INCREASED the BOE appropriation by $3.1 million.
        On Sunday, May 7, 2017, 9:56:57 PM EDT, McCarthy, Tom wrote:
        Maria, as the budget stands now, the Council has given the BOE $3.1 million more than the Mayor’s budget. We did this by cutting the city-side budget and increasing different revenue sources. Because of the incredible uncertainty with the state budget (the Mayor’s budget has about $18 million in additional state aid in it for the city-side of the budget that may not be in the final state budget), the Council Budget Committee decided to pass a middle ground budget now. We will wait to see what the state does before the Mayor and Council make any further changes. We continue to try and get as much state information as possible but there doesn’t seem to be any clarity on the state level except that it looks worse everyday. “

        • Maria Pereira

          Here is my response to McCarthy with all B & A members copied:
          Tom,

          The B & A issued a statement that they increased the BOE Budget by $3.1 million which is a complete falsehood and a blatant lie. According to the CT Post article, Scott Burns went even further by implying it was an historic increase and investment in our public schools when considering recent appropriations.You increased your MBR appropriation, as required by law, in 2014/2015 by $3.7 million.

          To indicate to the press that you did us a favor by re-appropriating the $2.7 million that Mayor Ganim & Nestor ILLEGALLY reduced in the City’s MBR contribution, and then have the audacity to present it to the public & press as an “increase” is simply dishonest and unethical. That is not an increase, that is setting the base funding where it is legally mandated to be.

          In essence, you INCREASED the appropriation over the legally mandated 2016/2017 MBR by approximately $400,000 which is not acceptable to our 21,000 students, their 30,000 parents, the 500 certified staff members that live in Bridgeport and the community at large.

          And, you further told me on Saturday that the City Council is further supporting the City billing the BOE for $860,000 in Crossing Guards in violation of state law, including Charter $school and Parochial school crossing guards. In essence, your proposed appropriation is REDUCING $460,000 from your REQUIRED MBR which is in violation of state law. You are appropriating NEGATIVE $460,0000. In addition, you personally shared with me that you were giving us $3.1 million which included about half of what we needed to bring back kindergarten paraprofessionals. It will cost OVER $2,000,000 to bring back the almost 60 kindergarten paraprofessionals we eliminated. What kind of math is the B & A Committee utilizing?

          The reality is nine districts have solidified City Council challengers, or are finalizing their candidates. I can absolutely assure you that Anthony Paoletto & Nessah Smith have no likely reality of winning in the 138th. We will have at least a four way race, possibly five which only serves to help the candidates the majority of the myself & the 138th TC support. My understanding is that Scott Burns & Kathy Bukovsky are at significant risk for reelection should they seek it.

          What you are doing is giving EVERY City Council challenger running a very real basis for removing incumbents based on the outrageous and historic tax increase you passed last year, the spike in crime, and your expectation that the BBOE will have to take $25,000,000 in budget cuts over all of your current two year term. That will be the record all incumbents must run for reelection on. I assure you, this will be a campaign issue this summer.

          Please remember that in 2013, every City Council incumbent that was challenged, lost. That was because all the Row B City Council candidates road the coattails of the Row B BOE candidates. Our public schools were at the top of the ticket, and they will be again on September 12th.

          There are three things you never mess with in people’s lives:

          1) Their Religion
          2) Their Money
          3) Their Kids

          I was honestly impressed by the meeting the BBOE held with the B & A Committee on April 20th. I left believing we were heard and that we had gotten through to the committee as a whole. Clearly, I was wrong and duped. Shame on me.

          Now it moves to the voters of Bridgeport.”

  • Robert Teixeira

    I want to thank Maria for all she has done on the BBOE and DTC, in fighting for the city’s schools, its students and the City of Bridgeport. Without her efforts the city’s schools would have been flat funded like it has been under previous administration.

    The city schools now have, a strong black African American woman, permanent Superintendent. I’m sure the Afro-centric community is pleased to see Aresta Johnson leading BPT school system, thanks to Maria efforts.

    I’m sorry Maria’s efforts feel short on the $50,000,000 investment for a new school for the City of Bridgeport and its students. Which has been labeled an institutional racism vote? Never have I ever heard a city turning down 50 million dollars for a new school, especially if the property has already been used as a school. However from what I know about Maria, she will continue to fight vigorously for the BPS system and its students, the city, and hold the administration accountable.

    While $3,000,000 was not the 11 million she was seeking form the city. Maria’s efforts have produced an additional 3 million of funding this year for the BPS.

    Again thanks Maria for your efforts because without it the city would have flat funded it like they did prior years. I hope your effort take on those in Hartford as well.

    PS BAM I AM OTU I must go home 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8qaAKxJp0EM

  • Andrew C Fardy

    There is no doubt that the added money to the BOE came from the fforts of more than 1 person. Your comment that the vote on the catholic center being institutional racism is a comment from someone who knows nothing. The catholic center was a small school many many years ago and since has morphed into another usage. I will ask you, I asked all knowing maria and she did not know. How much wood remodeling cost? Has a traffic study been done? Will a seond entry onto school grounds be necessary? Did anyone check on how many schools have very low enrollments and cant we combine these schools so that we had one for these kids. Nobody knows the answera.

  • Maria Pereira

    Can I ask what is wrong with City Councilwoman Eneida Martinez?

    I awake to find a text message on my phone by one of my constituents who stated she waa attacking me on her Facebook page.Interestingly, this is not the first time she has done it. I have never had the inclination to post about her on my Facebook page.

    Apparently, she was outraged that I recorded a portion of the B&A Committee Meeting at City Hall yesterday and is asserting that if she had been present, she would have not allowed it.

    What is scary about this is that under the Freedom of Information Act, anyone can record any public meeting they so choose. If an elected official does not understand that basic right and freedom, they probably shouldn’t be an elected official.

    In addition, this constituent shared that she posted that I assaulted a 14 year old girl at Success Park during our successful 138th Easter Egg Hunt. That is a very serious accusation that one would hope she has can substantiate, but I know she will never be able to do so.

    Don’t you love when people have so much to say about matters they did not witness, have no intimate knowledge of, and are 100% incorrect or in violation of our state laws?

    • Maria Pereira

      Here is the actual text from Eneida Martinez’ post on Facebook.

      “So I also heard Maria PEREIRA was at the budget meeting recording the meeting. Who recorded her at her Easter Egg Hunt when she put her hands on a 14 year old little girl.
      Where is the ACTION for this????? This the type of SHIT we need to be in line with and of.
      But WE again allow these types of behaviors.
      If I was there this morning she would of NEVER been recording anything.”

      Unbelievable.

  • John Marshall Lee

    Don’t leave the ballpark, folks. The game is not over…we probably are not even at the seventh inning stretch.
    Yes, the B&A Committee met for many hours and a couple meals on Saturday at City Hall legislative chambers, with a handful of members of the public sitting witness silently to the process.
    Yes,at the end of the day Brian Lockhart is able to report that after reducing some revenue and some expense projections and increasing other revenue and other expense projections (but not sharing any of that paper with the public present) they came to agreement on a budget with certain State revenue assumptions that are uncertain, that maintained Ganim’s target of $542 Million which was a decrease from 2017FY adopted budget of $552 Million.
    No, there was NO reference to the current City FY 2017 budget which at the end of three quarters (March 2017) is projected to end the year with revenues of $554 Million and expenses of $549 Million for what would be a $5 Million surplus as a result of Ganim2 tax increase and $7 Million of State Revenue missed in the projections but received by the City.
    Yes. Too much in taxes paid last year it appears according to the latest monthly financial report which the B&A has not addressed in front of the public, and because of cancellation of their regular May meeting this Monday will be ignored.
    No, Ken Flatto did not make available to the public the FINAL June 2016 monthly financial report, though he may have done so to the CC, none is available at the CC office. This is a critical report for complete understanding and Tom Sherwood, OPM administrator back in the day defended his right in not sending this out, though he that disobeyed the Charter language. That report in the past couple years showed City actions completed and revealed, for instance, the illegal activity of 15 CC members several years ago meeting to split up dollars from their Other Services account to favored charities. Bad choice for them. They got away with it perhaps, but it proves the need for OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE, TRANSPARENT and HONEST.
    When the numbers are posted on Monday or Tuesday to see how the B&A moved Titanic deck chairs around, we should be closer to understanding what ACTUAL State revenues will complement local fees, sources of revenue and local property taxes will be forthcoming.
    If the estimates used thus far are inaccurate, there is plenty of room available to find additional millions from BUDGET CUTTING rather than BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS available. (JOHN MARSHALL LEE May 5, 2017 at 3:51 PM) Only some items were touched, trust me. Do you have any areas to be looked at for cutting? Time will tell.

  • Ron Mackey

    Wait a minute, we are to believe the Maia Pereira is the only person fighting for funding for the Bridgeport Public School System and the other 8 BOE, Rafael Fonseca Jr. ,Annette Segarra-Negron,  Ben Walker, Dennis Bradley, Howard Gardner, John R. Weldon, Sauda Baraka,  Joe Larcheveque, are not doing anything and it’s just Maria Pereira. Well, if that’s true then we need to get rid of all of those 8 the BOE members and crown Maria Pereira.

  • Robert Teixeira

    A. Beavis and Butthead. (Andy & Ron) I didn’t say Maria was the only one who put in any effort for the BPS not being flat funded. If you wish to express your gratitude towards any of the other board members, like Rafael Fonseca Jr.,Annette Segarra-Negron, Ben Walker, Dennis Bradley, Howard Gardner, John R. Weldon, Sauda Baraka or Joe Larcheveque, please do so. I’m sure they would appreciation it. Not sure if you care to show your appreciation to them more than you want to criticize and hate on Maria, I wouldn’t show your appreciation to them now, it might sound disingenuous.

    B. Butthead, I believe Maria stated the old school that morphed in to the Diocese, housed 1000 students. I don’t know the design plan but I know done right, it will address all of the concerns you aforementioned, by eliminating some of the unneeded buildings, keeping the ecstatic landscaping along Jewett Ave, and it could be the best school in the neighborhood. Haters gonna hate.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RuzCkKm5Ris

    • Ron Mackey

      Robert Teixeira // May 7, 2017 at 9:42 am
      I want to thank Maria for all she has done on the BBOE and DTC, in fighting for the city’s schools, its students and the City of Bridgeport. Without her efforts the city’s schools would have been flat funded like it has been under previous administration.
      Robert, where do show and say anything about the other 8 BOE, Rafael Fonseca Jr. ,Annette Segarra-Negron,  Ben Walker, Dennis Bradley, Howard Gardner, John R. Weldon, Sauda Baraka,  Joe Larcheveque?

  • Frank Gyure

    There is no good news in this budget no matter how hard you look at it.

  • Mojo

    No tax increase is always good, however the city always fines a way to rob Peter to pay Paul. So you better believe some city dept; BOE or library will be getting short changed somewhere down the line this new budget season! Or some city services will end up being raised by the city council to make up any short ends in the budget. *** Nothing new when talking Bpt. Budget, no? ***

  • Jeff Kohut

    “No tax increase” is still not tax “relief.” Real tax relief will take $billions in new — additional — grand list creation… (Power plant “replacement” projects don’t count — especially when they are on prime waterfront land, provide no permanent jobs for Bridgeporters, and have a negative impact on surrounding tax base…) Where are the $billions in new/additional, high-value, job-intensive tax base that it will take to make Bridgeport municipally and socioeconomically viable again and stanch the tax-payer/tax-base flight from Bridgeport?!…

    And what will the be final story for the Bridgeport fiscal 2017-2018 budget after the finalization of the state budget by the Keystone-Cop-like 2017 GA?

  • Robert Teixeira

    Beavis and Butthead according to Maria, apparently the 3.1 million provided by the council is a shell game committed the council members to appear to make it look like the council are increasing BPS funding. I see Maria and her effort to expose this deception perpetrated on the BBOE and the students.

    I want to express my appreciation to Maria in her effort in keeping and holding the city’s administration accountable.
    I look forward to Maria’s rally on City Hall to express the deception by the council members on the city’s students.

    PS Ron I also look forward to seeing the other BBOE member’s efforts in exposing this deception by the council on the city’s students.

  • Robert Teixeira

    council is increasing.

  • Bob Walsh

    Are the people of the Black Rock that stupid that they don’t realize that they are paying more in taxes for four years even if the mayor doesn’t raise the mill rate a point?
    Come on Scott. You have not given them an ounce of relief with this game you think you are playing.
    I have always said at budget time it is all a Monty game except the shells and the balls keep getting bigger.

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