Former Mayor Joe Ganim accuses Mayor Bill Finch of concealing a “ticking tax hike” by not disclosing information from a revaluation of city property that was delayed last year. The revaluation company that conducted the initial work is now undergoing the exercise again for the budget year starting July 1, 2016. Ganim has issued a freedom of information request to the city. A Finch campaign spokesman says a “dishonest” Ganim is making up stories.
City officials argue there’s no logic to releasing property assessment information that was not implemented. In 2014 the state legislature and Governor Dan Malloy agreed to delay the state-mandated revaluation for two years including this election year, at the request of city officials.
“It is appalling that the Finch administration is proceeding with reassessment while it will not give out information available from the first reassessment analysis conducted by the same firm over a year ago,” says Ganim in a news release. “Mayor Finch is clearly hiding this information because he knows the 2016 reassessment is a ticking tax hike which could hit many homeowners hard and he does not want to disclose that information prior to the election.”
Statement from Finch Campaign Manager Maryli Secrest:
“It’s ironic that someone who stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from taxpayers, and whose corruption cost taxpayers millions more, would have the audacity to make this outlandish charge. This is just another desperate and dishonest charge from a desperate and dishonest candidate.”
Ganim said as mayor he would do the following:
• Release all available information to the City Council and the public.
• Review the reassessment as the first action item in a new term and work with state legislators to seek ways to smooth any projected tax increase from reassessment.
• Hold public budget sessions next year in neighborhoods around the city to explain both the budget and any mil rate change
“I will do everything in my power to keep taxes from rising, just like we kept property taxes from increasing for ten straight years when I was mayor,” said Ganim.
Ganim FOI to City Attorney’s Office:
Under the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act (FOI), please provide the following information regarding re-assessment and re-valuation of all residential property located in the City of Bridgeport:
1. All contracted Vision Appraisal real property residential home assessment information assembled for the City of Bridgeport by Vision Appraisal from 2012 to 2013 including a listing of all appraised home values by parcel, a listing of all residential assessment values derived off sales data, and a listing of all calculations regarding potential mill rates as a result of reassessment.
2. All emails and internal memorandum between City of Bridgeport and Vision appraisal regarding the proposed 2015 reassessment and the earlier proposed 2013 reassessment and all emails and memorandum between any member of the Mayors office to other parties regarding the proposed 2015 reassessment and the earlier proposed 2013 reassessment.
Please provide this information in readable electronic format within the required FOI timeline. Thank you.
There’s no irony here, let’s stick to the issue. As taxpayers fearing the ambush that awaits next year, we all want that information. This is not the first time this request was made, and most likely won’t be the last. Give us the information!!! What difference does it make who’s asking?
Lisa, I agree if you are requesting the information it should be released. Why would you want the information? If someone told you your house was worth $287,000 in 1987 and is worth $129,000 today, what’s the point. The city needs x amount of dollars to operate. Wouldn’t the mil rate be adjusted accordingly? I am not sure what the point is other than wasting time and effort. I thought we were getting a benefit by holding off on the revaluation. But I certainly support your desire and Tom’s desire to see it. Didn’t former Mayor John Fabrizi attempt to get his information? A former Mayor no less.
Again your lack of interest in the way financial issues are handled undercuts your status as an opinion maker. One major purpose of the State setting five-year intervals for revaluation is all taxable property does not change value at the same time. A decrease in market values such as has occurred since 2008 may reduce almost all values initially but slowly different neighborhoods or different types of properties, condos vs. rental apartment properties, may begin to separate from where they were at the last revaluation, October 1, 2008.
Another purpose of valuations and then assessments at 70% of taxable grand list value is to keep the system fair throughout the community. If some neighborhoods are seeing values rise and others are not, that is a reason for more frequent rather than less frequent revaluations.
So maintaining the October 1, 2008 valuation maintains whatever inequity has developed since that date between neighborhoods or types of properties. And “other people’s money,” taxpayer money, not campaign funds were used to pay Vision Government Systems for their valuation in an amount around $300,000 for their work that was available last year. But not everyone got to see the numbers. If valuation numbers were to be greater in places where people voted, it has been suggested, then keep them secret and postpone their release until after the election. Isn’t that what has happened?
Taxpayer funded? Finch keeps secret? Do over in 2015 for an additional $300,000 of taxpayer money? In the meantime the initial valuation might have some neighborhoods paying less on their properties.
Steve as you say above: “I thought we were getting a benefit by holding off on the revaluation.” What did you think was happening? Re-think. Ask the Mayor, maybe. What is the positive spin on doing the valuation twice? Why would we want to pay for this process twice within a period of 24 months, and not be able to see all the results? If you will check and inform us kindly, Steve. Time will tell.
I do not recall anyone complaining when the Mayor put off the reval. I will have to see if you were blogging then and what the issues were, JML. I understand if the values went up the mil rate went down. If the values went down the mil rate went up. Either way, getting this information at this point is really just a waste of time, but does give you something to blog about. Maybe you and Lisa can get together with Tom White and discuss this issue that will never yield a result that can change the present.
However, this is Mayor Finch’s battle. I am not a spokesmen or a pundit for him. He definitely benefits from my support. He is moving forward. I understand people looking backwards to the past. After all, Ganim had a transparent government and many look forward to that honest and transparent government. If Mayor Finch’s campaign can only answer questions with Joe Ganim is dishonest, that is going to fail. JML, I just do not know with all of your redundant gibberish, what the old reval numbers is going to do for you other than waste your time.
“JML, I just do not know with all of your redundant gibberish, what the old reval numbers is going to do for you other than waste your time .”–Steve A.
John Marshall Lee explained it in a concise way.
If you don’t get it now, Steve, you don’t get it now.
Regardless, for those of us who continue to reside in Bridgeport and pay property taxes–you are included in this, I assume–Steve, all of us will get it after the election, whether we choose to keep our heads in the sand or not.
I did blog about it at the time. Check it out. I don’t need to. The real issue is fairness of the way taxes are spread today. You don’t care about fairness, do you as you do not raise the subject, and Finch advisers decided certain neighborhoods had “revaluation” numbers that were going to raise their values while other neighborhoods, perhaps that voted less effectively and perhaps could be ignored, would be taxed less under the 2013 or 2014 first revaluation.
Very pragmatically they got the State to pass the legislation that took them off the date until 10-1-15 and then for all intents and purposes destroyed the evidence as they are in no mood to show someone with an FOI request.
Yes, John Fabrizi smartly put in a claim, let the time run and then folded sometime around the time he decided he would not run. There is rumor and speculation as to what he may have received in return. I have not talked with him about it. However, it would appear most likely there was a quid pro quo as he has remained silent on killing his interest in his own property. That is his business. Yes. But perhaps we have to assume former Mayor Fabrizi’s days of “public service” are complete. Too bad. I really enjoyed the man in the movie believing he wanted the best for Bridgeport.
Today, what young lawyer in Bridgeport with 40 years of career ahead of her or him, has the legal wherewithal and can afford to be a hero to get the completed revaluation from a year ago produced and publicized? What a great service for the public to repay when they need a lawyer with courage, smarts and a willingness to pursue integrity. Time will tell.
Yes, and Ganim and Foster can blame the reval on Finch. Pete, JML. isn’t that the truth. Now I just may run, since I can spend the next four years blaming Finch. I’d prefer to hold him accountable in office and take the bad with all the good coming down the pike.
Knowledge is Power, Lisa. They don’t want to give up their power. It would be useful to have more knowledge for us on the Council in order to govern this city. Sad.
FOI doesn’t show aptitude. It’s the first resort of those showing political ineptitude.
Lisa, you are so right.
We paid for this assessment so let us at least see it. Finch, it’s not your dollars (like the $600.00 jive). That is our tax money, it may be useful in possible future comparison studies regarding our taxes.
Did you forget mayor, I think you work and get paid by us, like in the US. Not a dictatorship.
Lisa, well stated.
Stone him! Give us Ganim! Stone Mayor Finch. Now we know why Fabrizi isn’t running. The revaluation is long overdue. How dare Mayor Finch spare the taxpayers a year? Like nobody didn’t know this was coming down the pike. I give Ganim credit again for treating his campaign as though he were the only candidate against Finch. I love the other candidates’ uncanny ability to think they have a chance without taking Ganim down. So it should get colorful. I still want to know if is true about Ganim as a paralegal after jail represented a white supremacist who gave guns and grenades to the Ku Klux Klan. If this is true I am dying to hear the comeback from the minorities supporting him. Life is a series of choices. If true, did the Ganims have to take the case? If this is a lie I am disappointed at the teacher at Hooker School who mentioned it during my lunch break. I didn’t say a word simply because I was speechless. I am not sure whom she was supporting.
That accusation is as stupid as anything I have seen you write. And you’ve written tons of stupid stuff in support of a bumbling idiot. I would love to see a real professional poll on this election. That way we can see how badly your boy is losing by to this “felon.”
Phantom, I would never lower myself to manufacture this crap. I asked if it were true. If you are incapable of giving the answer then zip it. If it is true, well explain that to those of us who find that reprehensible. If this is a lie put out by a camp I will be totally disgusted. So Phantom, is this a lie or true? The woman who mentioned it was nlack. I do not find this a humorous post at all.
Ganim can’t represent anyone and if his family took this case, why is it his fault? Steve as you know I don’t support Ganim but fair is fair.
Andy Fardy, I totally agree with you. I did not make this story up. I suppose if I were black it would matter. We make choices. It does not change my opinion of Ganim or his family. Attorneys take murder cases when they believe the guy is guilty. In a way it makes Ganim a stronger candidate because his supporters see it the way you do. The woman in question was not as forgiving and personally I do not believe it. I do not believe the Ganims would have taken this case and if I did I hope they lost and the piece of white trash selling guns to the Ku Klux Klan is sitting in jail.
Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Jim Fox, take your thorns and thistles and shove them. I will enjoy the grapes and figs.
Mr. Auerbach, shouldn’t you check your facts prior to posting? You had the choice not to post such nonsense, but you chose to post it because you cannot stand the truth about BF.
Straight Arrow, I did not make up this story. You research and if this story is wrong I personally would like to know who started it. It is a race thing. I too am disgusted.
Thank you, Mayor Ganim.
The lies will come back to haunt him, there are some very honorable people who know our mayor and his chief of staff are out-and-out LIARS. In politics TRADITION is one of its most important aspects.
A Finch campaign spokesman says a “dishonest” Ganim is making up stories.
So tell us Finch campaign spokesman, where can we pick up our $600 tax rebate check?
If we are talking about a $600 rebate check eight years later, you are in trouble. I still have a few pieces of $600 rebate dollars MJF handed out. It didn’t work eight years ago. Steelpointe and downtown were not as happening as they are now. That is what you are really up against, Mr. Fox.
The only thing I’ve noticed Finch doing is erecting green signs all over.
Bridgeport’s mayor is wise to identify with the green movement.
That’s exactly what those signs are: “A green movement.”
Ummm, the taxpayers of Bpt aren’t stupid, most of us know why the reval was delayed, Finch didn’t want the massive tax hike affecting his campaign. Thanks for Joe pointing out the obvious, like we are all idiots.
Wherever idiocy is the trademark, Harvey Weintraub is the craftsman.
Have you noticed when you click on the yellow “Learn More” on the incumbent’s ad on this site, it opens to a DONATE page? Where’s the “learn” part? When will we ever learn?
Brett, you really need to think about what you’re trying to sell the people of Bridgeport.
We have been down the postponed-reval route before and it has never been pretty for us in the end. And it’s always associated with an election-cycle or two–or even three. (Didn’t we have a long-delayed reval going back an administration or two?)
The Finch-Malloy postponement was created around their reelections. The Governor didn’t want to hear the screams of Bridgeporters last fall or during this Assembly session, and the Mayor certainly didn’t want painful reassessment news fresh in the minds of voters this year.
How much did the city borrow to make up the shortfall the reval/tax hike would have brought in this year? We’ll be paying for that borrowing next year and the year after, and …
Other than for political reasons, why would a reval be postponed? The uncertainty about future taxes no doubt caused homeowners and businesses to move out and potential businesses and homeowners to choose to locate elsewhere. Business hates uncertainty. (Isn’t that right, David?)
If Ganim is lying, then have verifiable, updated reval stats released to the public before the July city Democratic convention. If the reval is benign, then the Mayor will probably walk away with the nomination and election (despite the reality of a dying, rudderless Bridgeport being exploited/sucked dry by the Gold Coast/suburbs).
In any event, the taxpaying public–who paid for the reval–should be able to get information they paid for (and will continue to pay for).
So what’s the secret, Brett? Are things really getter better and better? If so, for whom? Certainly not Bridgeporters.
Pete, I thought the exact same thing when I clicked on the link last night. I guess the goal is to learn “how to empty your pockets into Mayor Finch’s campaign coffers.
Point 1–wasn’t there a period of 18 years between revaluations? and Point 2–there are always winners and losers when a revaluation occurs between commercial property and the various classes of residential property. The new state law is going to protect the tax on our vehicles now that it is capped, and if commercial and residential values change in sync then the mil rate goes up on a decreased assessed value. The “magic” you need to watch is on the spending side, they use a reval year to increase spending and blame the revaluation.
Some people need to see if the report shows what they would have paid had the initial revaluation not been postponed. Although everyone knows it’s coming it would of great importance to some residents to have an idea of how much more they’ll have to pay. Some may have to cancel summer plans or other things that aren’t as important as paying their taxes.
Wouldn’t that qualify as a public service?
As a City Council member, this information would have been very useful when the Council voted to freeze the assessment on Sycamore Apartments, Laurel Place and Washington Heights for a couple of decades. I asked for this information at the Economic, Community Development and Environment Committee, alas another drastic tax reduction was passed.
That’s right people, get mad! Tired of the same old song and dance? We do have another choice, he’s called Rick Torres.
The Phantom and Straight Arrow I have some very interesting information I would respectfully like to submit.
At approximately 6:04 pm this Friday evening I received a call from 586-200-0157.
It was a research company. I agreed to participate. It asked questions regarding Bill Finch, Mary-Jane Foster, Joe Ganim and Howard Gardner. It asked a lot of negative questions about Finch. 45 percent increase in taxes, $400,000 driveway, non-support of University of Bridgeport. Well it certainly did not sound like a pro-Finch poll. Ganim, it referred to his being a convicted felon, as a paralegal after his jail sentence he supported a white supremacist selling guns and grenades to the Ku Klux Klan–honestly folks I am not making it up. Foster, it mentioned taxpayers bailing her out with the Bluefish and her lack of business experience. Nothing really pro or con regarding Howard Gardner and nothing about Coviello, Daniels or any other candidate. So folks, there you have it and the phone number so now I know where the teacher at Thomas Hooker got her information. I wonder if anyone on this blog got the same phone call. So far early in the campaign, I received a Ganim robo call weeks ago. Got a call the other evening from Mary-Jane Foster’s campaign. This evening a poll.
So Phantom and Straight Arrow, I did not make this story up nor do I have such ill will toward Ganim to make up such a mean story.
Whether he or anyone cares to elaborate is not important to me. If this were a Finch poll. I will say the negatives about him were more brutal than the other candidates. The real question is who paid for it. There was nothing about Steelpointe! That alone makes it questionable as to who is the owner of the results. When they asked about Finch’s support of UB, it was severe. I did say that was an issue for me and I hope the Mayor makes this one less issue to address. Whoever did this poll clearly intended to drive up Finch and Ganim negatives. It was a thorough battery of questions.
I got the call too. Long survey.
I participated in a similar poll the other night. I was asked if I believed Bill Finch played Roger on “Mad Men.” I said I wasn’t sure, but it was worth looking into.
Jeff, I thought that was a strange question also. He does look like Roger. I said I strongly agree!
A-Rod getting his 3000th hit last night! This is the year for comebacks and redemption. Americans love a comeback story as it speaks to determination and perseverance! Go Joe!!!
Yeah Bob, now there is a delusional way of thinking! Maybe VHS guy who did those awful shootings in the church this week will also get redemption. The families all forgave him. I never heard such beautiful heartfelt speeches in my entire life. If the families were able to forgive that white trash racist, then who are we to judge? This is after all the year of redemption.
Bob–I too believe in second chances. But would you support a daycare center employing a convicted pedophile?
Contemporary with the MAD MEN time period of the advertising business in NYC in the ’50s was a black and white TV show called DRAGNET. Remember Detective Joe Friday played by Jack Webb and his reminder when he was questioning folks? “Just the facts, (Ma’am or Sir), just the facts.”
There is enough factual information regarding the two terms of Bill Finch to work with though we would wish additional and all candidates should be pledging to deliver more of OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT governance. Do you hear such? I do not hear enough specifics.
If Bill Finch were to start singing that song it would sound like his $600 tax credit or refund that proved phony (or his ignorance of the City fiscal state). If telephone surveys are probing into speculative or hypothetical reaches, perhaps we are in a period where ‘dirty tricks’ are appearing. It’s new to me, but who would be funding a survey at this time other than a campaign or campaign-related organization? Do they have any rules about identification? Time will tell.
“I’d prefer to hold him accountable in office and take the bad with all the good coming down the pike.”– Steve A.
If/when you do start holding the incumbent accountable, please let us know here by explaining how you are in fact holding “him accountable.” Thanks!
I remember Bill Finch addressing the handpicked group of citizens gathered as his appointed Charter Committee. He used the words accountable and accountability multiple times and I just sat and listened. I understood at that moment he had no idea of the broad meaning of those words because the actions of his team and the footprints they left on our governance structure were anything but examples of “accountability”: missing Charter-required Annual Hearings on Capital Budget; no explanations to the public for deficiencies in handling of State and Federal funds brought to attention at audit time each year; weak efforts to use technology to promote fiscal literacy among voters with simple “green style” executive level report to Council and posted on City site each month, etc.
With his “hero” confused about accountability, perhaps Steve is unaware the light he sees at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train with the news we are in for a fiscal crash. Time will tell.