Council Committees Approve Ganim’s Senior Citizen Tax Relief Proposal

Joint City Council committees review senior tax plan.

A joint City Council committee by a 9 to 1 vote Monday night approved a senior citizen tax relief program advanced by Mayor Joe Ganim that expands benefits to eligible homeowners 65 years of age and over to begin for the July 1, 2020 budget year.

The vote now goes to a public hearing prior to full ratification of the council next month with overwhelming odds for passage in an election year.

Finance Director Ken Flatto walked the joint council committees on budget and ordinance through the proposal declaring state statute has enabling legislation for municipalities to expand senior citizen tax relief for eligible homeowners.

Under the current program roughly 1,100 households qualify.

Councilman Ernie Newton voted yes.

Flatto explained he projects another 700 or so new households may take advantage of tax relief under the new guidelines, adding the proposed plan expands benefits to middle income seniors creating a tiered benefit that gives the most relief to those seniors with the lowest income.

The city’s current senior tax relief program dating back to 1988 offers a flat $800 to eligible seniors with household incomes of up to $43,900. The new program would provide a $1,200 benefit for seniors with household incomes up to $20,000; $900 for seniors with incomes between $20,001 and $43,900; and $400 for seniors with household incomes between $43,901 and $58,000.

Flatto said the proposed plan would have a budget impact of roughly $500,000.

Budget co-chair Maria Zambrano who supported the proposal asked Flatto how would this be funded? What if projected costs are closer to $1 million based on applicant eligibility?

Flatto stressed he was conservative in his projections, adding that new tax growth revenues, particularly from the new PSEG power plant in the South End, will generate new dollars to cover the costs. The new power plant conversion from coal to natural gas generated more than $10 million in taxes for the current budget year. The plant is expected to be fully on line next year with additional tax revenues.

Cynics argue hey, it’s an election year. Why propose this now?

Flatto responded the process to approve the program must begin now because the senior citizen homeowner application process to the Tax Assessor’s Office commences late in 2019, ending several months later, to coincide with the budget proposal that will be presented to the City Council in April 2020.

Outgoing City Councilman Pete Spain voted no, asserting in a statement to OIB it should have been tabled to December.

“There were errors and substantial holes in the materials presented by the administration. In principle, I agree with reducing property taxes for seniors and all homeowners as soon as possible. However, with a current $5.5 million gap in the current fiscal year for our school system just to pay its bills, and with this proposal needing further factual footing, including more solid annual cost estimate, I think passing it out of committee was premature. Should have been tabled to December, at least.”

PROPOSED ORDINANCE LANGUAGE

Real property tax relief and maximum–City of Bridgeport Program

Each resident qualifying under this article shall receive a tax credit on such resident’s real property tax bill for his or her principal residence in the city; provided, no such property tax relief, together with any relief received by such resident under the provisions of all applicable General Statutes of the state of Connecticut, shall exceed, in the aggregate, seventy-five (75) percent of the tax which would, except for such General Statutes, and this article, be laid against the taxpayer. The tax credit amount for any resident qualifying shall be in the following amount, based upon the resident’s level of annual household income as defined under state statute:

Household Income from $1 up to $20,000
— Tax Credit of $1,200

Household Income between $20,001 and $43,900
— Tax Credit of $900

Household Income between $43,901 and $58,000
— Tax Credit of $400

Eligibility
At the close of the calendar year next preceding the year in which the claim for tax relief is filed and approved such resident shall be sixty-five (65) years of age or over; or the spouse of such resident shall be sixty-five (65) years of age or over;

Estimated Fiscal Impact of proposed Expansion of Bridgeport local Senior Tax Relief Program
Current Program Household Participants:                                                            1109 Senior households

Household Income from $1 up to $20,000 — Tax Credit of $1,200
Estimated cost of increase from $800 to $1,200 — $177,440

Household Income between $20,001 and $43,900 — Tax Credit of $900
Estimated cost of increase from $800 to $900 — $66,540

Household Income between $43,901 and $58,000 — Tax Credit of $400
Estimated cost of increase from $800 to $900 — $280,000

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43 comments

  1. So this council did what they were told??..Shocking!..Doesn’t matter if the bill was incomplete,,doesn’t matter if our schools can’t afford to pay their bills,doesn’t even matter if no one knows how this tax break will get funded.Pass it!!,it’s an election year!!..

  2. This just goes to show you that there isn’t an individual thinker among the council, with the exception of Peter Spain. They tow the party line and do what Mayor Ganim and Mario tells them to without a bit of trepidation or reluctance for fear of being primaried. Good Democrats, Good party loyalists or Good ass Kissers?

  3. WOWWWWWWWWWW

    I’m not surprise! We have a lot of seniors in Bridgeport who could use the help. The city council has not made any changes since 1988. Why is it that people on this BLOG dislike Joe and Mario so bad that are seniors should not get the help they need, the state first would have to approve all applications first in order for our seniors to get a tax credit. Just remember one day you may get OLD!

    1. Ernie, are you saying that the concerns that Pete Span has bought are not very important? has bought, do you understand Pete’s concerns? Finance Director Ken Flatto comes in tells you and the other Council to approve the proposal the same way that City Attorney Hamilton Burger comes in tells you what to do. Ernie, this is about business and not about kissing Ganim and Mario ass. Ernie, you don’t believe that you should be dotting the I’s and crossing the t’s when it comes to money

      1. Ron
        We have not adjusted these rates since 1988 we have many seniors who could use the help. We can always come back and make adjustments to this program. Our budget has already been set so we set it up for year July 1 2020 to june 30th 2021 because its a lot of paper work that our senior have to submit to the state. Councilman Span is entitle to vote how he feels. I voted for it because many senior in my district could use the help.

    2. And a bigger WWWWOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW back to you Ernie.
      You talk about “lot of seniors in Bridgeport who could use the help” some in your District some in others, right? You are a man of the people…..or so you say……but where is your voice NNNOOOOOWWWWWWW for the young people whose budgets have been ignored by Ganim2 during his “second chance” run??
      On one hand you talk about a “lot of seniors” who are getting $100 or $200 more from this revision, but more than 20,000 young people should be on your RADAR and cause you to speak “truth to power” about where budgets can be cut (stipends, print shop, airport, labor relations contracts, etc.) but no one speaks to these opportunities? Instead you wish to make a “Custer’s Last Stand” gesture?? Perhaps the senior citizens can see behind the tax move, the specific hypocrisy of Ganim2?? And did the administration forget that the elderly work to have things better for young people whose time is to come, if they are educationally prepared??? And what words or actions were devoted to the cohort of community youth moving through grade levels?? Perhaps a backpack program?? Ernie, get real…..Time will tell.

      1. JML
        Let me say this to you. YOU are not the savior for the BLACK Community so stop trying to act like it. Just because you joined the NAACP and put out a News Letter. You have no clue. Our seniors could use all the help we can give them. I dont give a damn who proposed the idea. The election are coming up you have a right to support and vote for who you wish. This will help those who are hurting just to make ends meeting. JML since you have all the answer maybe you should RUN for Mayor. TIME will tell

        1. You are right, Ernie. I am not a savior of any community and have never made such a statement. The fact that you see my work anywhere connected to helping people in need of help is enough for me to continue my pursuit and purpose.

          If you have a problem with the NAACP or a Quarterly Newsletter, please say so. I was honored to be invited and collaborate with people who shared communication and learning with me. So far, the focus on lots of different people doing positive things has been well received.

          And if my quest for redressing wrongs for confiscation of vans without City effective response or supporting full civil rights for a “returning citizen” who is articulate and law abiding yet “banned” by Police Department personnel and escorted from City Hall in February. Who authorized that action, Ernie? And why was your City Council counterpart involved in Facebook dialogue about such “banning”? Private conversation on public channels of communication?? Circulating party photos of a former “returned citizen” who faced the law in court charged with $2.5 Million Medicaid embezzlement from the State of CT taxpayers before she headed off to jail recently is something more than tacky?? For folks who want to know the entire story, why not share it with us. As you say, if I don’t have a “clue”, why is no one coming up with an answer, namely the Mayor and the Chief??

          And what I learn, say and do for people in Bridgeport is for the people and not for me specifically. I am a senior with high taxes and not eligible for this relief, so I respect your pursuit of help for the eligible seniors. But where was your effective voice with the Mayor’s financial plans that ignored school operating funds?
          Balance and perspective suggest that this NAKED POLITICAL MOVE by Ganim2 at this time when he has ignored the 20,000 youth in the education system should be termed for what it is. And thank you to OIB who does not print everything I say or write, but hopefully will continue to allow “truth to power” to be uttered!!!

          Moore for Mayor is whom I support this year and expect others will see the truth of that exceptional choice before all of us eligible Democrats on Primary Day September 10. Persons with white skin, especially in such a diversified community, should not expect to be front and center, top of the heap, always and forever, especially when autocratic control, inept administration, and failure in accountability are present. Why can’t we just have a ‘place at the table’, respected, and heard just like other City folks with a variety of different experience, talents, energy and spirit? Time will tell.

      2. Correction, JML,

        Ernie isn’t a man of his people. He is the MOSES of his people. He’s going to lead them from the East Side just a soon as he figures out how to part the Housatonic River.

  4. C’mon Ernie, you know damn well this isn’t about helping the seniors, it’s about this being an election year and ya boy is running again. Why do you, Mayor Ganim and the other bullshit artists think that you can continue to pull the wool over the eyes of people in the name of, I GIVE A DAMN? Fund the future of Bridgeport education and put down the Ganim/Testa koolaid because it seems to be making you stupid.

    You used to have a genuine love for the city and its residents, but now it seems as if you have a genuine love for the party, the DTC, the Mayor and Mario and to hell with the people or the city.

    Stella got her groove back so I’m sure that if you tried you could get your integrity back or a reasonable semblance. Just say NO my Brother to the bullshit and be prepared for the groundswell of integrity that will permeate your whole body.

    1. Don
      First of all you have no idea what the hell you are talking about. This program has stayed the same since 1988 I have many seniors in my district who could use the help. I will support programs that help my district and this city. You have such a hate for Joe and mario and the DTC. That your problem.
      Just remember my Brother No one in my family nor myself has ever worked for this city. unless you forgot I was elected with DTC support. I will never Vote against something that’s good for my District just because Joe Ganmin supports IT!

      1. Ernie, How has Ganim2’s avoidance in dealing with education expenses in the City work for your District?? Three years of avoidance except for photos on capital funds spent at or on school buildings.
        By the way, stop accusing folks of hating Ganim2 in his return to city power. Maybe some do, but others find little to love about Joe. He ignores talking with folks who are not pre-selected to greet him and be in a picture with him. He cannot or will not address the part he has played in failing to answer how a “returning citizen” was denied basic rights to attend a city event at a Black History Month gathering in City Hall. Why??? Asking a question about use of police to deny rights, needs to get to the Chief of Police and the Mayor for intelligent response. What happens?? Two Claims filed in City Clerk and two denials from a secret process?? Perhaps court is where a citizen needs to go to get an answer?? Time will tell.

  5. Ernie, why do you consistently say I hate Joe and Mario when in reality I hate no one. What I hate is the continued marginalization of Black’s and the Black community by the political powerbrokers that you love so damn much. If you’re not helping the Black community then you are hurting it and I defy you or anyone else to show me where Joe or Mario has demonstrated their love for the Black community and/or culture when it WASN’T AN ELECTION YEAR! Go ahead I’ll wait.
    There is none so blind that will not see!

    1. Don, Ernie plays the only game in town, anybody who gets endorse in the 139tj as a Democrat gets elected, it doesn’t matter if it’s Mickey Mouse, the only in Bridgeport is Joe and Mario, where the hell is Ernie and Ralph Gotf going, please.

      1. RON
        Remember i was not endorsed in 2017 i ran against two incumbents and Ms Wanda Simmons. I took it to the streets and the Voters elected me. Don contributed to my campaign and i am grateful for his support. i didn’t understand your last post. What you JML or anyone else say my responsibility is to my district not OIB> I’ll see you all at the Polls.

  6. Don
    Let me say this my job no matter who the mayor is, its to try and support legislation to improve peoples lives in my district and the city of Bridgeport. Every Mayor who has served this city has done things during election time. Why are you just singling out the black community you could say that about the Hispanic community etc. Remember Blacks supported President 45. I may not always agree with you and Ron but i respect that you have a right to your opinion. Just remember i march to my own Beat!

  7. Ernie, you ask why am I singling out the Black community, you’ve known me for almost 50 years and you do know that I am a Black man, right? I single you out because you represent the community that I grew up in, that I learned to be a man in, the community that I raised 4 children in and the community that I love.

    You say every Mayor does that, but every Mayor isn’t running, Joe Ganim is running and I said it once and I’ll say it again, I defy you or anyone else to show me where Joe or Mario has demonstrated their love for the Black community and/or culture when it WASN’T AN ELECTION YEAR! Go ahead I’ll wait.

    1. Don
      You show me, passed or present any MAYOR who has demonstrated their love for the Black Community when it WASN”T AN ELECTION YEAR! GO head I”LL WAIT! REMEMBER I”VE BEEN AROUND JUST LIKE YOU!
      P.S I’m STILL IN A COMMUNITY THAT I LOVE AND STILL FIGHTING TO MAKE CHANGE WITH A TITLE OR WITHOUT A TITLE! THAT THE DIFFERENT Between me and Other I didn’t need a title to stand up and fight for my community!

      1. Ernie, you just don’t get it, you know better but you act like a rented black man. What the hell does does it matter that no one in the past do the right thing that it’s ok for you to continue to do the wrong thing. Doing the right thing is what you should be doing no matter what the outcome.

  8. RON
    Just remember your word aint gospel so please preach to someone else. Dr. Bennett is my Pastor. you should know that. I march to my own Beat. I would rather walk in a different direction by myself than follow people going in the wrong direction. I don’t follow I Lead! Have a great DAY!

    1. Ernie, you always walk into the direction of Joe and Mario, tell me when you didn’t support Joe Ganim or spoke out against Joe or Mario? That’s what I thought, NEVER. You always support Joe and Mario.

  9. RON
    At The DTC I didn’t VOTE For Ganmin or Moore ! for MAYOR.
    I march to my own beat but if its something that good for the people i represent i will support it!

  10. Ernie
    One question
    If this hasn’t changed since 1988 and there are so many constituents who could use a little help, why didn’t you help them???
    All you had to do was put in a resolution calling for a greater tax break for senior tax payers and let Flatto and Ganim work out the details.
    How long have you been on the council???

    1. Bob, now you know that would require Ernie to stop the process that Mayor Ganim wanted and Ernie is not going to ask for more time to get the correct numbers because he has to do what Ganim told Finance Director Ken Flatto to tell Ernie and the other council members to do. Ernie, I saw on Facebook that committee meeting and you didn’t mentioned anything about the State part.

      1. Bob
        I have been on the city council since 2017-present This program is model after the state program. We up the dollar amt. There are a lot of things that come up as you know just because i didn’t come up with the idea and it helps the people in my district i shouldn’t support it because someone else came up with the idea. Listen I know many of you guys ar anti DTC MARIO AND JOE! Bob i’m sure you supported many things on the City Council that you didn’t come up with the idea but it was good for the people you served and the City of Bridgeport.

    2. Bob
      I have been on the city council since 2017-present This program is model after the state program. We up the dollar amt. There are a lot of things that come up as you know just because i didn’t come up with the idea and it helps the people in my district i shouldn’t support it because someone else came up with the idea. Listen I know many of you guys ar anti DTC MARIO AND JOE! Bob i’m sure you supported many things on the City Council that you didn’t come up with the idea but it was good for the people you served and the City of Bridgeport.

  11. Ron
    Here we go again…….
    Mayor Ganim found money to reduce the distance BPS students will have to walk to school.
    Ganim suddenly realized the greater distance was an “extreme burden and a safety concern”. And it is also an election year.
    Wait a minute…. here comes Ernie. Me too, me too.

  12. Bob, that’s so true, I’m glad about the change. Ganim doesn’t realize that higher taxes for s better educational system is a win win for Bridgeport because it’s a investment in the students and it encourages businesses to move and relocate to Bridgeport. Workers want to send their children to a good public school system that is safe. Mayor Ganim is cheating the school children of Bridgeport by not fully funding their education along with the entire City Council.

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