Sending a signal that “everyone has to give a little” to offset a budget deficit pegged at roughly $20 million, a spokesman for Mayor Joe Ganim says the mayor did not accept a salary during his first two weeks in office and will also be working another two weeks without pay in the near future. The amount Ganim will save the city is about $12,000 which will have the net impact of bringing the chief executive’s pay for his first year back to an annual $132,500 where it was before former Mayor Bill Finch authorized a last minute raise for himself and discretionary employees. Finch received a retroactive increase of $17,000 going back to the summer of 2013.
Ganim will be directing his discretionary appointees to follow his lead and give up a month’s salary, says his spokesman Av Harris. That savings of about 60 direct appointments some of which Ganim has not yet made is expected to achieve roughly $500,000. Meanwhile Ganim has begun a dialogue with municipal union leaders to achieve savings to help close the budget gap that administration officials say occurred on Finch’s watch particularly increases in overtime for public safety and Public Facilities as well as pension obligations to the state that were not paid.
“The mayor feels it’s important to give back the raises authorized before taking office,” says Harris. “The city’s in a serious fiscal bind so the mayor and rest of his team are looking for any savings. It’s also a signal that everyone has to give a little bit, he’ll be looking for union support as well. The mayor is trying to do more with less by reducing the size of government.”
This is not new territory for Ganim. Elected in 1991 at 32 years of age, Ganim faced a budget gap he inherited from Mayor Mary Moran. Back then the city was under the thumb of a Bridgeport Financial Review Board put in place by the state to ensure city budgets were in balance.
Now 56 years old, Ganim is challenged to close the budget gap with six months left in the fiscal year.