North End resident Jeff Kohut, a 2011 mayoral candidate, shares in this commentary “Economic “development” in Bridgeport is mostly fanciful illusion and consists almost exclusively of propaganda-quality announcements of inappropriate, grandiose, jobless, undoubtedly tax-abated/untaxable projects on city-owned, “flippable” properties.” From Kohut:
John Lee’s years-long tracking and analysis of Bridgeport’s ever-worsening fiscal morass, in the context of his latest OIB submission “City in Bondage” calls attention to the implicit huge dimensions of the iceberg under the exposed fiscal tip of that iceberg, which he has played a major role in exposing as he calls attention to the course of the Bridgeport SS Titanic as it blindly speeds, full steam, toward a collision with that massive fiscal iceberg.
In that regard, it is undeniable–and should be obvious to those local, state, and federal officials, the responsibilities of which include the well-being of Bridgeport and its residents–that without a massive-scale, near-term, tax-base/jobs-creation initiative in Bridgeport, the residents and employees of the city have a bleak financial future. In regard to the latter, the younger pension contributors in the BPD (et al.) plan will never see a return of contractual proportions on their investment, and the last of the residential taxpayers will be “leaving for the Coast” before pay-up time comes. Since there is no plan in place to secure the $billions in new tax base (perhaps $12-$16 BILLION) needed to recreate a viable Bridgeport tax base capable of sustaining our tremendous real financial needs for the present and future, informed Bridgeporters of any wherewithal are not planning on staying here for the long term.
If City Hall had a real plan to meet our needs, they would have done the math needed to allow for the appropriate planning of our municipal future and would know that for a reasonable residential/business tax rate at full employment (so that taxpayers were working at living-wage jobs and could actually pay–without forfeiting other essential aspects of their well-being–all of the nefarious taxes and fees exacted on Bridgeport residents/homeowners, which, in addition to our ridiculously high property taxes are of the nature of economic battery and rape (e.g., the onerous, corrupt, suburb-subsidizing WPCA tax), we would need in the area of $14 billion in new tax base within the next 5-10 years. But City Hall hasn’t even attempted to calculate our tax base needs in any short- or long-term context. (The Connecticut Office of Fiscal Analysis could do that for them–but that office apparently never even did that for the state in any timely manner!)
But, per the full list of city economic development projects–extant and paper projects–the residents cannot expect anything but continually decreasing services and increasing taxes for the foreseeable future. The aforementioned development list is largely jobless and tax-negative, consisting mainly of workforce housing/transit-related (tax-negative development), region-serving powerplants and waste-disposal facilities (tax-base devaluing and polluting), some low-end or otherwise inappropriate retail (tax-abated/tax-negative), and only a relative morsel of tax-paying, jobs-producing business (albeit largely tax-abated/low-wage jobs).
More importantly, there is no economic development plan. Economic “development” in Bridgeport is mostly fanciful illusion and consists almost exclusively of propaganda-quality announcements of inappropriate, grandiose, jobless, undoubtedly tax-abated/untaxable projects on city-owned, “flippable” properties. And there is no rhyme or reason as part of any grand scheme for any of the development (save servicing the tax base development/maintenance needs of the Gold Coast/suburbs at Bridgeport expense). There is no aim at the creation of any targeted amount of tax base pursuant to short- or long-term city fiscal and socioeconomic health. There is no indication that any purposeful, visionary, or even basic thought or study with resultant calculations in the form of a tax base development target has ever even been attempted by any modern Bridgeport City Hall. There is no puzzle in which to fit any economic development pieces. In terms of purposeful economic development functions in Bridgeport City Hall, it’s describable either subversive and “region-serving” or mindless finger painting.
So Bridgeport, as John Lee and David Walker have collaboratively and individually researched and presented in terms of numbers, is sitting on fiscal quicksand. That is undeniable. And, inexcusably, there is no viable plan to create any sort of timely, adequate foundation for our municipal survival–short- or long-term.
In this context, politically aware Bridgeporters might ask: Who will be favorably impressed with Bridgeport’s economic planning–much less our actual fiscal and socioeconomic condition–in time for the 2018 gubernatorial and statewide elections? Certainly no one who lives and works southwest of Hartford. This is something for Bridgeporters seeking statewide office to consider as they create political platforms and prepare to present themselves and their backgrounds and accomplishments to the rest of the state.