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Ganim: City Is Rebounding

January 3rd, 2017 · 10 Comments · City Budget, Development and Zoning, Firefighters, Law Enforcement, News and Events

In a commentary that also appeared in the Connecticut Post, Mayor Joe Ganim highlights initiatives during his first year back in office.

A year ago when my administration took office, Bridgeport was facing incredible challenges, including a large budget deficit, a state-mandated property revaluation, increasing crime, and a lack of widespread economic development. Today, thanks to our hard work over the last year, Bridgeport has largely overcome these challenges and is now on a path of growth.

Bringing back fiscal responsibility

Upon coming into office a year ago, my finance team informed us that we had inherited a $20 million deficit halfway through the fiscal year. Like other cities throughout Connecticut, Bridgeport was in serious financial trouble. Having been elected to bring fiscally responsible government back to Bridgeport, we immediately took action to put our fiscal house in order. We cut our payroll and implemented a spending freeze across all departments. We refinanced our debt and found creative ways to raise revenue. In less than six months we closed the deficit, ending FY 2016 with a small surplus, and adopted a balanced budget for FY 2017.

This major accomplishment was noted by three major Wall Street bond rating agencies when they recently maintained our “A” bond rating with a stable outlook. This is truly remarkable in the context of declining bond ratings for the State of Connecticut and several large cities in the state. Ultimately, our stable bond rating will save the city millions of dollars as we make major investments in our communities and bring about major economic development.

Spurring economic development

Revitalizing downtown and spurring economic development throughout the city have been among our top priorities. Thankfully, we are beginning to see a boost to urban redevelopment in downtown Bridgeport, including mixed-use housing and retail spaces. And, we are currently working on plans to invest millions of dollars to transform downtown into a modern urban center.

We also continue to see progress at Steelpointe. Across from Bass Pro, a groundbreaking is scheduled next year on a marina, a waterfront restaurant, a hotel, and high-end apartments. Groundbreaking is also scheduled on Seaview Avenue for a movie theater, an upscale grocery store and multiple restaurants.

Meanwhile, progress is being made on plans to build a new $150 million train station on the east side. PSEG is beginning construction of a $550 million clean gas power plant–the single largest investment in Bridgeport’s history–while decommissioning New England’s last coal-fired power plant. And, we will soon be releasing a comprehensive plan for the development of Bridgeport’s 24 miles of waterfront property.

Finally, as part of our plan to foster economic development, we have made fighting blight and illegal dumping a major city-wide initiative as we work to turn blighted lots into new developments and hold people who dump illegally accountable. And, we have made great efforts to modernize parking in downtown Bridgeport to be more business and visitor friendly. Overall, we have seen great signs of progress throughout the city, and we are hoping to build on this progress in the years to come.

Making our city safer

As we work to make Bridgeport a more attractive city and improve our neighborhoods, we realize that we must make substantial investments in public safety. In the Bridgeport Fire Department, we brought in new leadership, successfully won a nearly $3 million federal grant, and recently graduated a class of 22 new firefighters. In the Bridgeport Police Department, which was at its lowest level of staffing in over a decade, we have worked to bring it up to its full capacity. In September, we graduated one police recruit class with nearly 30 new officers and recently started a second class of more than 20 new recruits. Because of this, we are well on our way toward adding 100 new police officers to the force. This effort, along with new department leadership and initiatives to fight violent crime, has yielded a 45 percent reduction in homicides compared to 2015.

Transparency and other major initiatives

Finally, over the last year, we have implemented several new initiatives that have begun to transform the way our government does business. Through our Open Bridgeport online portal, we are now giving the public the ability to see how every government dollar is earned and spent, making Bridgeport the most financially transparent city in Connecticut. Through our new Bridgeport 311 mobile application, we have given the citizens of Bridgeport an easy way to report and track quality of life issues that affect them on a daily basis. And, through our new Mayor’s Initiative on Re-entry Affairs, we are strengthening Bridgeport’s status as a second chance city by helping residents returning from incarceration gain employment and live productive lives.

Although there is so much more work to be done, the accomplishments of the last year have given us momentum and have inspired an increased confidence in the Park City. With your help, my administration will continue to build on this progress in 2017.

I wish you and your family a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year.

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10 Comments so far ↓

  • Ron Mackey

    Nothing about reducing the tax burden on homeowners. Of course growth helps but how long will it take?

  • Grin Ripper

    Pat Riley: “No Rebounds! No Rings!”

  • Jimfox

    Just a little editing might help!

    We cut our payroll AND HIRED OUR FRIENDS AND UNSKILLED CAMPAIGN WORKERS TO REPLACE THOSE SKILLED WORKERS THIS CITY SO BADLY NEEDS and implemented a spending freeze across all departments. We refinanced our debt and found creative ways to raise revenue WITH THE LARGEST TAX INCREASE IN BRIDGEPORT’S HISTORY. ALL THIS, ON THE BACKS OF THE TAXPAYERS. In less than six months we closed the deficit, ending FY 2016 with a small surplus, and adopted a balanced budget for FY 2017, ON THE BACKS OF THE TAXPAYERS.

    Most of this is taken from the Bill Finch playbook!

    We also continue to see progress at Steelpointe. Across from Bass Pro, a groundbreaking is scheduled next year on a marina, a waterfront restaurant, a hotel, and high-end apartments. Groundbreaking is also scheduled on Seaview Avenue for a movie theater, an upscale grocery store and multiple restaurants.

    Meanwhile, progress is being made on plans to build a new $150 million train station on the East Side. PSEG is beginning construction of a $550 million clean gas power plant–the single largest investment in Bridgeport’s history–while decommissioning New England’s last coal-fired power plant. And, we will soon be releasing a comprehensive plan for the development of SEASIDE PARK AND Bridgeport’s 24 miles of waterfront property.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    Joe Ganim is full of it.

  • Stringfellow

    The city needs an aggressive approach to collecting unpaid taxes, building and health code violations. Attach liens and attack those who hide behind an LLC. It takes money to make money so get the city attorney’s minions off their collective asses and get to work. Fine those who have abandoned and blighted properties. Everybody who owes taxes should pay.

    Far too long politics had factored in to who pays and who doesn’t. This is a dismal failure and cannot continue. The taxpayers should not have to bear the failures and lack of forethought by those in power. Shame on all those who did not care the factories were closing one by one. They did not seem to care to come up with a plan to make up for the losses in taxes.

    All these past practices have not helped economic growth, only hampered it.

  • Maria Pereira

    Not one word about our public schools nor the 21,000 students who attend them.

    Investing in education is the best investment we can make with taxpayer funds. There is no downside to investing in our children. None.

    When our citizens are educated it reduces crime, incarceration, the need for public assistance, poverty, addiction, etc.

    As a society, we have to decide whether we are going to invest in prisons to incarcerate our citizens, provide long-term financial, food, and housing assistance, etc., or will we invest in our children’s education to help them lift themselves out of poverty and go on to be successful members of society.

    You can put 200 more police officers on the street, but if we don’t educate our youth and cultivate a sense of belonging, you will never substantially reduce crime.

    Dr. Pedro Nugera completed a comprehensive study on Harding in 2010. Children and staff both felt unsafe, disrespected and unappreciated. Both groups felt the other did not care about their well-being.

    I will never forget he stated you could add 100 security guards to Harding, however it would not improve the climate in the school. Until a climate of caring, trust and respect was cultivated, the school would not substantially improve.

    • Ron Mackey

      I’m sorry but who wrote this? There must be a ghost writer like Lisa Parziale or someone like that because there is no name-calling or anything, just the subject matter of education and I agree with it.

  • Donald Day

    Ron, it was beautifully written with just the facts man, just the facts. That’s the professional side the residents of Bridgeport, the children of Bridgeport and the BBOE need to see because knowledge was dispensed without the need for vitriol. I’d move back to vote for that person.

  • Frank Gyure

    I think so many of us were left speechless by this posting/info from Mayor Joe Ganim that the comments were at a minimum. My comment is #10. Other postings get up to close to a hundred comments. Frankly, I’m left speechless as well.

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