Foster Calls For Independent Audit Of Tax Office

News release from Democratic mayoral candidate Mary-Jane Foster

Mary-Jane Foster, candidate for mayor in the Democratic Primary, today called for an independent operational and financial audit of the city’s Tax Collector Department. “We are seeing very serious management deficiencies in this department, which is putting our precious tax dollars at risk,” the candidate said.

“We have recently learned, only because of a police investigation, that the tax collector has a program whereby independent contractors are allowed to seize citizen’s vehicles, impound them, sell them at auction and keep the proceeds; doing so without turning any funds over to the tax collector and without detailed accounting for all these transactions. In a city where tax dollars are stretched so thin due to a stagnant tax base, we can ill afford this level of mismanagement,” Foster charged.

Foster noted that this is not just a problem for the city but an injustice to city residents who have had their properties taken as a form of punishment and not a tax collection effort. “The city of Bridgeport, led by the Finch administration, is just as responsible as this contractor is for stealing personal property for financial gain. A man ‘of the law,’ who bragged about making $1M a year, charged with 18 counts of forgery and 21 counts of criminal impersonation is just uncalled for.”

Foster called on the city to immediately begin legal action to recover any lost tax revenues due to the actions of a rogue state marshal. Foster called for both personal civil action and pursuing any insurance remedy that might be available.

“This individual was required to carry substantial insurance. If it turns out that the city does not require a surety bond for this type of contractor or failed to make sure he carried the legally required insurance, then the management problem is even worse than we have been led to believe,” Foster continued.

Foster characterized a council investigation as being comical. “This program has been going on for a decade and only now, in an election year, are they calling for an investigation. And who will decide how that investigation takes place? I am guessing the City Council President, Tom McCarthy–who is owned hook, line and sinker by the Finch Administration. This is the same council that promised a full and detailed explanation of Manny Moutinho’s driveway fiasco that has never been delivered. A driveway that cost taxpayers over $600,000 in expenses. A joke is what we will get.”

Foster noted that earlier this year a sitting council member was exposed, as he had racked up half a million dollars in delinquent tax bills for both personal property and real estate taxes, and yet nothing was done. The same office of the Tax Collector has done nothing to collect delinquent personal property taxes and the council has sat on its hands.

“Was nothing done then because he was a City Council member? A fellow Democrat? But since this involves a former Republican office holder it is considered fair game? We do not need a Tax Collector who plays politics with the taxpayers’ money,” the candidate stated.

Foster said the latest revelation is that an unofficial spokesman for the Finch administration has been allowed to run up tax bills of over $10,000 and the administration apparently has no intention of pulling him from the city-paid ads.

“I have one opponent who was convicted for pay-to-play schemes and another who appears to be running the tax collector’s office with an attitude of ‘it’s who you know, not what you owe,'” Foster charged.



  1. Bridgeport needs a tax base (per capita) on the scale of Stamford.

    Stamford grand list–approximately $30 BILLION

    Bridgeport grand list–approximately $7 BILLION

    IF Bridgeport wants to adequately fund its city services and public school system while taxing its residents at a Stamford mil rate (about 18 mils), we need about $25 BILLION dollars more in grand list value. To have an adequate budget and tax our residents at a rate of 30 mils–about 25% lower than our present rate (but still too high), we need about $13-$14 BILLION more in taxable property.

    Where is this kind of development going to come from? Which of the mayoral candidates has a realistic plan to make that happen? Which of the candidates has any kind of plan at all to make that happen?! (Steal point doesn’t even put a dent in what we need in grand list expansion–and on a more negative note, we are squandering precious waterfront on low-value, low-employment development. A mostly parking lot strip mall!!!).

    A Tax Office audit is a good idea in terms of chasing the rats out of the silo, but what will it actually accomplish in terms of addressing Bridgeport’s massive revenue shortfall (presented above)?

    I still haven’t heard an aggressive plan to restore a dying Bridgeport back to health. It will take more than Pepto-Bismol and Alka-Seltzer. (The Tax Office audit could be the equivalent of some chicken soup for the municipal soul).

      1. Frank the Cabana Boy, actually parks and Schools are two major components for successful economic development. Parks address quality of life issues needed to attract business and families want new schools (that perform).

        1. Steve,
          You are in the schools, many schools, many days of the year. Thank you for mentioning performance as what the community including families expect. How do you manage to get performance even in brand new schools, if City contributions are low for the largest City in the State relative to New Haven and Hartford? After all, personnel and benefits expense continue to rise leaving little room for change. And those new businesses look at fiscal results as well as academic results, don’t they? What’s your solution to freeing up funds to help the classroom in the City? Time will tell.

          1. Apparently, a new board is in place with a grant writer to apply for funds. Maybe we get the problem kids out of the classroom so teachers can teach. Have more schools dealing with students who need special attention than forcing potential talent to be subject to anger management issues that take up time in the classroom. Maybe break classes down based on academic ability. I have seen very bright students placed in classes where students are basically illiterate, disrupting the class. Have a social worker and special teachers interrupting the class to take them for an hour. Sorry, if the schools cannot address the obvious basic issues then parents need to have a choice for Magnet and charter schools. It really is a sad joke and I feel bad for young students who cannot verbalize to their parents how their day is spent. More money? No John, that is not the answer. Classifying kids according to ability, Duh. Rocket science.

          2. Steve,
            You left me no room for a response so I’ll submit this ahead of your response. There is a new board but what that has to do with a grant writer asking for more funds I am not sure. We received grants in the previous year in the range of $60-70 Million dollars on top of City and State ECS and Fed funds. So you are saying we don’t need more? But then you don’t look at numbers, do you, so why should we expect intelligence on that point?
            You go on to mention a number of serious problems that interrupt or prevent solid instructional time. Those issues need constant attention and data-driven answers. Instructional time is also lost whether students or teachers are absent. And I agree with you, alternatives for education are necessary until the good trends become dominant. But saying no more money is necessary when you see the fiscal management of funds each year is just laughable. But then you “don’t look at the numbers.” That is a comment sensibly uttered by the immensely wealthy 1% or saints and the destitute who for different reasons have nothing. You are not in the 1%. Neither are you destitute. Possibly you are saintly, but more likely your belief in Bill is merely a case of temporary blindness, which the coming election will cure as it did with your Musto fetish. What goes on with your need to be a champion of political actors? Time will tell.

    1. This city and its residents have been supporting a crooked political machine for too damned long. The Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee makes Tammany Hall look like a Cub Scout Pack. Tax dollars are bleeding out all over the place. Ever wonder why Stamford’s business district looks impressive? All the large corporations that located there came to Bridgeport first and were turned off by all the palms that had to be greased.

  2. Charlie Valentino needs to go jail and all his properties on East Main Street seized to pay back the injustices done to Bridgeport residents. I will safely assume on top of everything else, forging the signature of a state marshal has to carry a hefty sentence. I saw Charlie yesterday, I thought he was arrested.

    Charlie, have you many friends offering you condolences or do they just want to turn you into a eunuch? You are a gross disappointment.

    I think this was a great release, however I do not believe Finch had any knowledge of this, but maybe the tax collector did. I think an independent investigation is warranted. Did Finch not agree?

    1. Charlie Valentino is well connected. He knows a lot. The State Police investigated this case, not the local law enforcement agency. The FBI is sniffing around, too. If the Connecticut State Police and the FBI have you, you are had by the short and curlies. Valentino knows a lot. The authorities will play hardball, threaten to pursue the maximum correctional sentence allowed by law. This will give ol’ Charlie some incentive to talk. And maybe he will, maybe he will.

  3. Jeff,
    I believe first and foremost the city of Bridgeport needs to clean house. Bridgeport needs a leader who is competent and who the governor, whoever it is, can trust.
    As you point out, major change is going to take a serious commitment from the state and I do not see that happening with either Finch or Ganim.

  4. Development on a large scale will not come to Bridgeport as long as we have a governing body like the council which for the most part is made up of people who have their own agendas and don’t care about Bridgeport. You won’t get development here if big companies look at the city’s finances.
    You won’t have big development here as long as you have people like David Kooris as our economic development chief who is also an elected official in another city. Show me that kind of arrangement anywhere else.
    You won’t have big development here when the face of the city on billboards and TV owes a substantial amount in back taxes. In that vain you won’t have development here as long as you have council members or their immediate family owing taxes. The list goes on and on and it’s time for MJF.

  5. Do you remember that childhood game called “You’re Getting Warmer, You’re Getting Colder?” That’s where someone hides something, and then you search for it while being told, “You’re getting warmer,” “You’re getting hot,” and “You’re burning up,” as you near the object.

    You’re getting warmer, MJF!

  6. Steve, the buck stops at Finch’s desk. He is responsible for everything that goes on in the city. Either he knew what was going on and turned his back or he is incompetent. Which one is it?

    1. That’s like expecting Obama to know what’s going on in the Military Hospital. Quentin, what the Mayor is responsible for is dismissing the individuals in charge of this department, then he has done his job. Personally responsible? I do not think so. I do not think it was the goal of the Mayor to make that skank rich. But then again Quentin, it is not my place as I am not his spokesman. I do not get the daily talking points. 🙂

      Hey Quentin, good news for you. On the heels of Donald Trump you get Bobby Jindl. The Republican party is getting better every day!

  7. Steve,
    I guess I have a slightly different set of life work experiences than you do but throughout my professional career I have not known a successful Chief Officer, be it Executive, Financial or Operations who was not data driven.
    When I was in the Air Force I was responsible for updating the Base Commanders Monthly briefing book. The first time, and only time, I was a day late updating that book the General’s Secretary was on the phone looking for it.
    At Waldenbooks, the Vice President of Finance had his briefing book that was updated throughout the month at various frequencies.
    Today any CEO has his 4, 6 or 8 drill down dashboard report that is available on an iPad, a tablet, an iPhone as frequently as the data changes.
    So if you are telling me Bill Finch is too busy to do this then I guess I must believe you.

    1. Bob,
      Keep on this subject for you have observed its lack in Council service. DD does not mean Dunkin’ Donuts in this context, but rather “data driven.” The City is spending significant sums at BOE and City side each year for hardware, software, and personal services to maintain and improve systems. How are we doing with the funds spent?

      Look at the number of errors in reports, monthly and annual, and human error, unchecked results, are part of the mix. They create mistrust with the current systems and those who instruct the systems. If the Mayor cannot trust the system there is a different problem that he must solve. But where the public loses faith in the system, or it is too difficult to wade through the data (like Sherwood Forest for the Council) then we are not “data driven.”

      And the budgets presented each year contain service indicators that are not used daily, are not subject to any regular review or audit, and may be contrived at year end with makeup numbers (how often do real-life results always have numbers rounding to zero?

      “Data driven” is critical and a must to support “best practices” but is it a watchword in every arm of local government these days? Time will tell.

    2. Bob, leaders attempt to surround themselves with competent people who will do what’s right and obviously cover your ass. I think the Mayor has done his job, will do what’s necessary and reflect upon some bad decisions. If we had John Marshall Lee auditing all departments every day as his position reporting to the Mayor, things would be different but we do not have this. If you think any other candidate would be able to have his thumb on every issue you are foolish. This is not a company dealing with a product. This is a city with good, bad and ugly happening around the clock. This is politics so you have built in disapproval 24/7. Let’s see how this plays out. Valentino has become an issue. Let’s see how the leadership handles it. This does overshadow all good news coming down the pike. The University remains a problem so let’s see if damage control happens today or in September. I’d say today!

      1. So Steve, are you suggesting there are not six key metrics Bill finch should be aware of and capable of tracking at all times? What would his metrics be?
        Green house gas emissions?
        Mattresses recycled?
        New parks created?
        Moonies arrested for brainwashing?

      2. And Steve, comparing Bill Finch to President Obama is ridiculous even for you. Or if you are comparing the complexities of running the Federal Government to the city government then I have underestimated your feeling for Bill. To quote who I am sure is one of your heroes, “Trust But Verify.”

  8. Now Steve, when the story about Councilman DeJesus broke, Mayor Finch was quoted as acknowledging there was a problem with collecting personal property taxes but the city was working on it.
    So given the embarrassment the mayor should have felt by the DeJesus problem, yes I expect more from him than sitting around waiting to fire someone.

  9. And Steve, if we know of one individual with several different LLC’s who can run up a delinquency of several hundred thousands of dollars, then I must also concur with Mary-Jane, this is a multimillion dollar problem.

  10. Bob, stop, I can’t breathe. You are sucking the air out of the room. Why are you bitching to me? I am attending the meeting at the annex this evening. If I were answering all your questions I would be running for Mayor. I cannot answer for the Mayor as I do not know how his team is going to address these issues. Bob, what are the voters interested in? I am certain Mayor Finch will address all of the issues his consultants tell him are important to voters. Not the noise you and John repeat ad nauseam. Though they may be great points they most likely will not make headlines.

    Btw, the truth, isn’t the plan for the vacant building on Warren Street downtown for a brewery and brick oven pizza excellent? I had thought of that exact use nearly 20 years ago. I see a great success. A Pepesque type of success!

    Bridgeport just keeps getting better.

  11. Stevie,
    It’s a great idea. No thanks to the City of Bridgeport. I know Bruce quite well. He bought the building when the city was making all the noise about developing the Pequoch site.
    Then Magic Johnson pulled his disappearing act. He had hoped this would be a natural extension of the area but once again the city tore down a building and did nothing with the property.
    Bruce had hoped to attract a TGIF or similar national chain but alas I guess he decided he couldn’t wait any longer.

    1. See Bob, good things come to those who wait. It is a great idea, I would have done it years ago. The Magic Johnson proposal under Fabrizi was a self-contained entertainment center so his project would not benefit. Downtown rebirth under Finch will bring new housing and excitement. This parcel was definitely not a fit for any chain restaurant. A unique brewery/brick oven pizza has the potential of being a huge hot spot. Timing is everything and great, the leadership of the city will support it. This is a great proposal.


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