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Merry Christmas! Ganim Unveils Findings Of ‘Staggering’ $20 Million Budget Deficit

December 17th, 2015 · 63 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Budget, City Council, News and Events

Ganim, council members

Ganim addresses City Council in mayor’s conference room Wednesday night.

Oh those dreaded election-year budgets. Asserting to the City Council Wednesday night these are “staggering numbers to walk into,” Mayor Joe Ganim and his financial team detailed findings of an inherited $20 million budget deficit halfway through the budget year that shows revenues overestimated by $5.6 million and expenditure issues of more than $14 million.

Ganim told City Council members in the mayor’s conference room inside the Morton Government Center that he’ll have an action plan within the next couple of weeks in which “I’ll have to make hard decisions. We have real challenges.” Ganim finance officials initially thought the deficit was no higher than $15 million, but in the past few days they uncovered some deeper spending issues. Ganim briefed the City Council starting at 5 p.m. He allowed the media to join the session at 6.

Ganim worked off a PowerPoint presentation (see a pdf of that presentation here) prepared by Finance Director Ken Flatto, a certified public accountant, and newly named budget director Nestor Nkwo detailing the sobering news Ganim administration officials privately say is a result of a classic election-year budget with no tax increase advanced by former Mayor Bill Finch whom Ganim defeated in a September Democratic primary. The budget year began July 1. The finance director handles the revenue side of the budget while the director of Office of Policy and Management oversees spending. The lead department heads who built the budget under Finch are no longer with the city, but as is often the case of election-year budgets they are told by the mayor and senior staff to produce a no tax increase document and deal with the consequences the next year. None of them are around now to deal with it. Now it’s up to Ganim, Flatto, Nkwo, Chief Administrative Officer John Gomes and others to clean up the mess.

Large expenditure issues highlighted, $2.4 million in retroactive pay raises authorized by Finch not budgeted, public safety overtime millions over budget as well $8.7 million pension payments not made to the state. Finch received about $17,000 from that retro pay increase going back to the summer of 2013 on his last day in office.

The presentation highlighted the following budget variances on the revenue side with causes listed below parenthetically.

Arrears taxes $2.7 million (underbudgeted/unrealistic assumptions)

State aid payment in lieu of taxes program $890,000 (double budgeted/not funded by the State)

State Aid – University/Hospital PILOT cuts $475,000 (mid year recission/State pilot reduction)

Outside police overtime $1 million (net revenue overstated)

Rent from arena, Harbor Yard and Captain’s Cove seaport, all city-owned facilities, $520,000 (failed to pay rent)

Councilor Denese Taylor-Moye, newly named co-chair of the budget committee, said during a question and answer period “To hear this is a mind blower. No one was watching the house?”

Ganim administration officials during the presentation period open to the media addressed the current budget mess rather than blaming anyone directly who had caused it.

On the subject of police overtime Ganim said one of the reasons he brought in former Police Chief Wilbur Chapman as a senior adviser is to do an evaluation of public safety to save money, including overtime “without compromising services.” Chapman has set up shop inside the mayor’s office complex.

At the request of City Council President Tom McCarthy, Ganim agreed to another financial presentation before the council’s budget committee in a public forum in the coming weeks.

Ganim told the councilors that closing a $20 million shortfall with half the budget year remaining will require hard decisions on his part. He added that while the city grapples with the current budget year challenges he will be proposing his own spending plan for the next budget year in the spring that will include implementation of state-mandated revaluation of property. Finch received a two-year reprieve from reval by the state legislature and Governor Dan Malloy to avoid implementing it in an election year.

Flatto said the city has no cash flow issues meeting payroll or paying vendors, but a serious amount of belt tightening is in order to close the budget gap.


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63 Comments so far ↓

  • The Bridgeport Kid

    Yeah, Bill Finch has done so much for the people of the city of Bridgeport. He really ought to consider moving out of state.

  • Andmar

    I am surprised Denese Moye is surprised about all this. She is on the budget committee and had been for a while. This should not be news to her, or otherwise she is not doing her due diligence. These are things she should have caught onto months ago. These positions as elected officials require competence and many people are not knowledgeable in the area of finance and fiscal oversight. And that’s okay, just should not be in this position.

    I have always thought the city could do without a Neighborhood Revitalization Office (NRZ). In theory it is intended to support the local neighborhood-based NRZs. But when you look at the statutes, the state law does not require these committees have city support. It could exist, but it is not required by law. A lot of what the office does is advertise and promote local events such as on their Facebook page. This is all great, but I don’t think this warrants taxpayer dollars. In fact, when you review the strategic plans and minutes of the NRZs across Bridgeport, there are no real or measurable outcomes or objectives. For example, objectives are worded such as “promote more awareness.” This is hardly measurable and really warrants the question about what is the value added and why this should be funded by the public.

    • Bob Walsh

      I am surprised Denese asked the question, “No one was watching the house?”
      YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING THAT!!! You and your friends on the Budget and Appropriations Committee, Denese.

  • Steven Auerbach

    Well, there are serious issues to deal with. Perhaps cutting back services, save $10,000 a month for Chapman as a babysitter for Chief Gaudett, invest the money in marketing the city. The Ganim supporters will not listen to anti-Finch rhetoric. They expect Joe Ganim to deal with it. People will ask how returning councilmembers could allow this to happen. It is all in Ganim’s lap and we can be certain he will perform a few miracles. Hewas elected to do so. This could also create a problem for Joe creating these new departments like Ed Adams or creating positions for his most loyal. I hope Ernie Newton gets a job. He has worked hard for Joe. He deserves a second chance, but will taxpayers swallow it? I am hopeful Ganim will be a great success. I am also aware there are many of his staunch supporters who are not so excited anymore. It is strange I have to defend Ganim. Politics is so strange and disturbing! Just a public FYI, I would advise the administration to do what they must, however no resident is going to accept a tax increase whether they supported Ganim or Finch. Suffer, layoffs and forget some jobs for now!

    • Bob Walsh

      “I hope Ernie gets a job. He worked hard on the campaign.”
      “Forget some jobs for now!”
      Spoken like a true Bridgeport politician. Which one is it, Stevie? Campaign workers or the budget deficit? And in Bridgeport the answer is always the same. BOTH. And that is why we always have budget problems.

      • Steven Auerbach

        Bob, patronage is part of reality. Of course we expect them to be qualified. GANIM RAN ON A SECOND-CHANCE PLATFORM. Certainly not just for himself. The city has many felons who cannot get a job at McDonalds. I do not think taking care of Ernie is going to change the deficit. Get rid of Chapman’s six-month $64,000 babysitting job and let Ernie develop programs to get the felons back to work.

        Mary-Jane Foster had advice for Ganim. Do not hire your campaign cronies. That is only one reason Ganim is Mayor.

        • Lisa Parziale

          Steve, I agree with you regarding Ernie. He has so much experience and knowledge of the City and its government. Way ahead of his time, he was elected Council President in 1981, and I remember his brother (R.I.P.) carrying the City Charter around to assist Ernie in adherence to the document. I can’t understand why Ernie hasn’t been brought into the fold to assess what unique abilities he has now to bring to those who at some time “took a left turn.” I would think the leader of this administration would be especially open to those unfortunate individuals hoping for a “second chance.”

      • Lisa Parziale

        Bubba, you don’t know the inner information. I’m told (I haven’t verified it yet) the woman who was hired to organize the headquarters, after the heavy lifting was done by volunteers, was given a position in the Minority Business department. She’s from New Haven, and was paid the going rate for her five weeks of work. My point is, compared to this situation, Ernie should have been a priority. The woman I speak of can be seen in the first picture taken in the Mayor’s office. Don’t paid campaign handlers go home after they’ve completed their work?

  • Ron Mackey

    Bill Finch’s decision to allow Police Chief Gaudett and Fire Chief Rooney to retire and to receive their City pension at the same time they are both receiving their City paycheck at the same time is costing the City over $400,000 a year and that’s not counting the increase to their lifetime pension. The money to Chapman is nothing compared to what these two chiefs are getting is illegal, they both are getting two paychecks from the City.

  • Dave Walker

    If the City Council were competent and conducted appropriate oversight, this would not happen. At a minimum, it would not be a surprise. Cut bogus positions, collect delinquent taxes and rent, restructure retiree health care, cut or defer discretionary spending, and impose rotating and across-the-board furloughs, as necessary. Just get on with it and quit complaining. Those who seek public office need to be prepared to make tough choices or they should not run for office.

  • Robert Teixeira

    This is how Ganim’s going to have to handle wasteful spending until Bridgeport’s revenue increases.
    www .youtube.com/watch?v=Hb9lpF8Anjg

    • Robert Teixeira

      Or raise taxes.

      • Dave Walker

        No way! Let me be clear, I for one will not pay higher taxes until all the waste, abuse and conflicts in Bridgeport Government has been addressed. There is plenty of all of these to address so an increase should not be needed. Higher taxes will only serve to further discourage businesses and people from coming to or staying in Bridgeport. Higher taxes would also harm property values. Among other things, double dipping is unethical and fiscally irresponsible. It should be eliminated immediately.

        • Robert Teixeira

          I’m not the mayor. I see three options. Increase revenue that doesn’t include raising homeowners taxes, cut wasteful spending, or raise taxes. I’m just the messenger. Double dipping may be unethical, but it’s legal, it’s the law. If you want things to change you first have to change the law. It’s the only way, because apparently ethical behavior went out the window. Good luck.

          • Dave Walker

            The law is the floor of acceptable behavior, not the ceiling!!! Change the plan provisions and/or terminate the people if they do not have a binding contract and it is legal to do so.

          • Robert Teixeira

            Yes, it’s the floor of one’s Acceptability or is it the ceiling of one’s ability?

        • Bob Walsh

          Dave Walker is calling for a tax strike!!! Make it happen, Dave.

  • DougDavidoff

    The word that came to me for this situation is: brutal.

    These are terrible numbers. The mayor will need as many people in the city as possible to understand them, because the fixes are likely to touch everyone in the city. We have little time now for finger-pointing, though that’s always a temptation in this city (and in this case, maybe rightly so, but let’s focus on what we really need to do here and now first).

    What we need is for city officials to present a range of options, discern popular agreement on the best of the options, and then craft the best set of solutions from the options that are both wise and popular. (I suspect wise will trump popular.) Back-of-the-napkin calculation, the $20 million budget deficit is worth $138 for every adult and child in the city. For a family of four, that’s $552 worth of deficit that has to be addressed for the second half of the fiscal year. That’s a lot of services to place on the line. Brutal! Admittedly, the revenue shortfall is only $39 of the per capita budget shortfall, or only $155 worth of the shortfall for a family of four.

    The PPT provided by the city to OIB is an encouraging start to a public discussion. But it is only a start. This picture must be re-told to the public in lay terms, in simple language and charts devoid of jargon and acronyms. The range of solutions have to match the explanation of the problem.

    The mayor of a city several times the size of Bridgeport would cringe at finding these deficits and shenanigans. The governor of many a state would be disturbed if handed these numbers. For Bridgeport, they are simply brutal.

    No matter whom you supported in the recent election, if you walked the streets or worked the phones, you must know this in your gut: The people of Bridgeport have zero interest in any new taxes. The slightest increase in taxes will result in many “for sale” signs and boarded-up abandoned houses from Old Town Road to our shores on Long Island Sound. When it comes to taxes, I’ve never lived in a population so on edge and anxious, so ready to bolt the city and even bolt the state. Confidence? There’s precious little of it.

    The way to build confidence is to lay out the problem simply and in language and charts everyone can understand. Lay out the options in equally simple and accessible words and charts. Listen to how the people respond. But I suspect the best decision for a solution will involve in some cases substituting wisdom judiciously over popular opinion.

    The best solution will also speak to reform in the budget process for next year and beyond. I can hardly believe the revenue side and expenditure side come from different offices.

    One idea: Force the two sides to monitor each other and work with each other. Second idea: Adopt the idea, pioneered in Indiana, of using a panel of economists, rather than political leadership, to forecast the revenue side of the budget.

    The Indiana General Assembly, which I covered for many years as a reporter and then worked with in a partisan capacity, completely removed politics from the revenue side of the budget by relying on a council of economists to annually forecast the revenue side of the budget. The panel’s track record over three decades has been remarkably on-target. When it’s off by even a percentage point or two, that’s big news. Asking economists from UConn, Yale, UB, HCC, SHU, Fairfield U, People’s United Bank, the Federal Reserve Bank, and other leading econometric businesses and academic centers to sit as a panel and forecast the revenues in Bridgeport would lend instant credibility and–I believe–amazing accuracy to the revenue side of the budget. It could even be among the steps to raise Bridgeport’s bond rating, a confidence-building and interest-reduction goal worth setting for this mayoral term. Leave the politics to the expenditure decisions. Take the politics out of the revenue forecasting. This week’s news is ample demonstration that mucking around with revenue forecasts invites trouble that is so easily avoided.

    • Dave Walker

      Indiana is a well managed, fiscally responsible and highly competitive state with a viable two-party system. Connecticut and Bridgeport are exactly the opposite. The time to start cutting is now!!!

    • Dave Walker

      You seriously underestimate the opportunity to eliminate waste and mismanagement in both Bridgeport and Connecticut. It’s time for tough choices that should have been made years ago. If Joe is not up to it, he should ask the Governor to appoint a Financial Control Board that can make the tough choices. Further delay will only compound our problems and make the needed changes even larger.

    • DougDavidoff

      In short, a year of politics no Hollywood scriptwriter could ever devise ends in an epilogue of budget news no economist would invent for his or her first novel.

      • Dave Walker

        Stay tuned for a soon-to-be-released PwC report on the financial position and competitive posture of the states that I am the principal author for. In addition, the fact is Bridgeport’s overall financial position is worse than Detroit’s and other recent cities that filed for bankruptcy. We need radical reconstructive financial surgery, not nip and tuck cosmetic surgery. Anyone who says otherwise is either uninformed and/or not telling the truth.

  • Frank Venna

    Wonder how Finch was planning on dealing with this if he had won, besides raising taxes of course.

    • Steven Auerbach

      Frank, it is of no interest to speculate how Finch would fix it. Clearly, the people decided Joe would fix it. Joe was not elected to take credit for Finch developments. The people were happy with that. Ganim’s claim to fame was holding the line on taxes after Moran declared bankruptcy. Now people want miracles! Nobody mentions Finch, his people are gone and I have faith in Ganim and his top appointments to fix the problem.

      • The Bridgeport Kid

        You have faith in Ganim now. I recall a time when you had “faith” in Finch, before he shot himself in the foot. Then you had “faith” in Foster, before her horse limped in well behind Ganim. Stick with scratch-off lottery tickets, Steve. You couldn’t pick a winner in a one-horse race.

  • Phil Smith

    Contrary to popular myth, different departments are not responsible for the revenue and expenditure side of the city budget, or at least they’re not supposed to be.
    The Finance Department is responsible for accounting and financial reporting, revenue planning and collection and investments, including surplus cash.
    The Office of Policy and Management was created to be the city’s single budget agency with responsibility for, among other things “budget analysis, development and administration.”
    It is also responsible for operations planning and improvement program evaluation and monitoring, and management improvements. Those are all functions that seem to have been largely ignored in recent years, but hopefully will get more attention in the future.

    • DougDavidoff

      On that score Phil, it would be a pleasure to stand corrected! I read in either OIB or in the Post it was otherwise. Or maybe it was in the Flatto slides? Not sure,

      • Phil Smith

        Doug, I have heard the same thing from a number of people including Lennie and city officials. However, it’s not the way it’s supposed to work.

        The creation of OPM dates back to the days of the Financial Review Board and that provide some context for the agency and its responsibilities.

        When the review board was created, there was a common assumption the city’s financial problems were solely the result of overspending and little more. The expectation was cutting spending would solve the problem. The answer turned out to be more complicated than that.

        A significant cause of the city’s financial problems was what, for lack of a better or more delicate word, budgetary ignorance. The budget was developed by the Mayor, city Comptroller and the Board of Apportionment and Taxation based upon the bottom line with little consideration of the impact of spending decisions on programs and services.

        Meanwhile, city programs and services were being planned, developed and operated with little consideration of the impact of programmatic decisions on the budget.

        OPM was created to, among other things, bridge that gap and ensure the budget numbers reflected programmatic decisions and that programs and services operated within financial constraints.

        That’s very similar to the role the office of policy and management plays at the state level.

        That’s not an easy job because it involves detailed program knowledge, asking hard questions, enforcing budget discipline and, often, delivering bad news. Some mayors and some OPM directors have been more comfortable with that discipline than others.

        • Bob Walsh

          It’s not an easy job because mayors basically say I don’t want to hear excuses. Just give me a budget that meets all of my requirements and is in balance. Which is normally impossible to deliver without some bogus revenue estimates or unattainable savings.

          • Phil Smith

            It takes hard work and political courage. It means making hard decisions that make sense in the long term. It also means saying no to friends and supporters who think they are entitled to their job, program or piece of the action.

            Are the Mayor, department heads and City Council up to it? We’ll find out soon enough.

          • Bob Walsh

            So true, Phil. I was just remembering how I would vote against a budget for various reasons (mostly because I had offered up amendments that were voted down) and it was considered extremely offensive and inappropriate.
            Then I finally figured it out. They wanted unanimous consent so if it ended up bad, they could say well everyone agreed to it so we obviously didn’t know anything.

  • Jimfox

    Ken Flatto is a penny-pinching tightwad, thank God we have him!

  • Frank Venna

    There is only so much the union workers can do to help with the deficit, we have been furloughed, benefits cut, pay more for less medical already.
    These are the reasons the police department’s critically low on good cops, they are leaving for greener pastures.
    The six-figure employees need to chip in, not the people living paycheck to paycheck. I hope Ganim knows this.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    BOO HOO. John Marshall Lee has been telling the people of Bridgeport for more than five years Finch & Sherwood were cooking the books. JML has also shown the city council people where Finch and his minions were hiding the money. Two examples are ghost positions and overtime accounts. Ghost positions are positions that have been left open or have been invented and salaries have been put in to cover these non-employees. One year the ghost salaries totaled $4.5 million.
    The budget committee was told all this plus more and they ignored every bit of the documented information they were given. We met for several hours a few years ago with the CT Post, gave them the evidence and explained it, and nothing happened. You want blame? There is plenty to pass around starting with every person on the council, Sherwood and Finch.
    Here is another financial screwing the city took courtesy of now-retired Larry Osborne. He negotiated the new police pension system that will allow officers to retire with their three best earning years used to compute their pensions, this includes outside OT so when you see a cop looking in a hole dug in the street, just think his pension is going up. You are going to see cops retiring at twice their salary. So to all who have ignored the warning given by JML, too bad.

  • Up On Bridgeport

    Andy–the two of you have been trying to spoon feed the City Council their O.A.T.S! They treated you guys like you were giving them Castor Oil. Now they are shocked there was gambling going on!

    The Council owes you and JML an apology.

  • Local Eyes

    Rumor Mill: Entire Holiday Season potentially disrupted as BPD arrest Santa Claus for impersonating John Marshall Lee.
    Thankfully, the whole event was rendered null and void when JML refused to press charges. Children smiled with delight and Christmas will continue as planned.
    On a serious note, Bridgeport needs permanent capital and someone besides Santa is working on that.

  • Bob Walsh

    Number 1–Fire the current CPA firm. If they are not highlighting obvious lax budget practices and controls then they shouldn’t be engaged with the city.
    Number 2–Fire the Council President. If he wants to brag how he has been CP for eight year and the budget is such a mess, he should either resign or the council should conduct a vote of no confidence.
    Number 3–The council should hire outside expertise THAT IS NOT CONNECTED TO THE CITY AUDIT FIRM to provide independent council on the budget itself AND in rewriting city ordinances to reestablish best practices in the daily operations of the Finance Dept.

  • DougDavidoff

    I’ve appreciated this discussion and I’ve learned a lot from Messrs. Woods, Walsh, Smith, Fardy, Venna, and everyone else, including the absent-but-frequently-mentioned dean of budget criticism, JML. While it’s a damned shame our council is caught supposedly unaware time after time–Bob Walsh’s story of the unanimous votes is so very telling–the calls for people to step down just aren’t going to work. We elected this cast of players and it’s the team we have on the field. No substitutions. They will have to step up to the plate (mixing baseball and football metaphors here) when they are alternatively pushed into doing so by public pressure and supported into doing so by citizen leaders in every neighborhood and every council district who will give them the cover and good cheer they’ll need to make the tough decisions no one wants. I’m glad Santa came to McLevy Green on December 10th because it looks like the Grinch will patrol City Hall and the Annex for the next couple of months. Maybe I can break into the coal power plant and steal a bunch of Indonesian coal to leave a lump in everyone’s stocking.

    • Bob Walsh

      I remember some Davidoff’s from Westport who were involved in Charlie Tisdale’s run for congress in the ’70s. Any relation?

      • DougDavidoff

        Bob Walsh, you just made my day. You’re speaking of my parents.

        I am the elder son of Jerry and Denise Davidoff. Dad was a lawyer in Westport; he appeared often in the courts at Bridgeport and in the pre-Internet days used the Law Library in the Fairfield County Courthouse often to prepare his cases. Sometimes I came with him, which was a treat for a boy. Dad died in 2009 at age 83.

        My mom, Denise Taft Davidoff, known to everyone as “Denny,” worked early on in the advertising department at the Post and Telegram and for three decades ran an ad agency in Fairfield and Westport. Her longtime clients in Bridgeport were Mechanics & Farmers Bank and Southern Connecticut Gas. She specialized in bank marketing and advertised for banks and S&Ls from Norwich to Norwalk, and up to Simsbury and Rockville. She also did the advertising for Ella T. Grasso’s first gubernatorial race in 1974, which I think was the last gubernatorial campaign operated entirely by people in Connecticut; the successive campaigns have had the now-ubiquitous Washington polling, political and advertising experts. Mom is now 83, prides herself on fitness, and lives at The Watermark at 3030 Park Avenue when she isn’t living on airplanes flying nationally to raise money for Meadville Lombard Theological School, the Unitarian Universalist seminary in Chicago. My boyhood treat with Mom was driving with her all over the state to meet her bank president clients. My adult treat is my new Bridgeport home is an apartment in the renovated M&F building!

        Mom and Dad met the late Jim (a leader we lost at far too early an age) and the late Loyse Tisdale in the 1960s through the civil rights movement and forged a close friendship. That led, of course, to Jim’s brother Charlie. I recall a division of labor–the campaign would succeed if Charlie could turn out the numbers in Bridgeport and Mom and Dad could work with other Democrats to find enough Tisdale supporters in the rich Gold Coast down-county towns plus Norwalk. Sadly, this campaign was not victorious.

        Bob, were you in the Tisdale campaigns?–DTD

        • Bob Walsh

          I was involved, especially in Charlie’s congressional campaign.
          I was taking a course at SHU in which Charlie was the prof and he had a project in which teams of students would develop a power structure organization for the city identifying business, political and social leaders and then overlaying these organizational structures to identify the key leaders in the city.
          Didn’t realize it when it started but this became a blueprint for whom Charlie would go after seeking their support.
          A few of us from the class joined up with the campaign.
          To this day, Charlie calls me his pupil and I call him the teacher. But of course I remind Charlie at some point the student becomes the teacher.

  • Bob Walsh

    And a big Thank You to John Marshall Lee for all the hard work he has done trying to educate the council on city finances.
    Although it might have helped to avoid this financial disaster (if one truly exists), at least John can say he did all he could and NO council member can claim nobody warned them.
    Thanks JML and no coal in your Christmas stocking this year. Well maybe just a little for your run-on blogs.

    • John Marshall Lee

      Bob, thank you for the positive nod in our direction. City finance is a big area and connects with every service, program, plan and department in town. So the length of some writing relates to the subject matter at hand (context) and how much background may be needed by a new reader (imo) to make sense. For regular readers who complain about eyes glazing over, the availability of background information should serve as a spur to become more learned in one or more target areas of concern, rather than declare sleepiness. For those who are content with complaints about my writing than with learning and speaking against what the City has done to taxpayers, give them the extra coal. Next year perhaps we’ll provide a match so that they can create heat and light. Time will tell.

  • Up On Bridgeport

    The Prophet is unknown in his own country. Too bad the council members were tone deaf to his fiscal flute.

  • Jimfox

    Dear Santa, please bring JML a megaphone for Christmas!

  • Jimfox

    Finch just texted me, he said the red light and speed camera citation revenue should be enough to make up the shortfall!

  • John Marshall Lee

    Mayor Ganim’s PowerPoint talks of shortfalls of revenue and expense to make targets established in the budget. Naturally, we need to wait for June, 2016 (and a couple months for last-minute changes to accounts) to tell where this budget will settle. Will it be a long fall from projections? Or just a plain old deficit? And what will be our takeaway?

    I was not invited to the Wednesday soiree, nor have I been asked to participate in any formal transition activities. So I am still free to pursue prowling around City finances, barking where it is necessary, and generally marking the territory the way good watchdogs do.

    I reviewed the PowerPoint comments and made some observations for the benefit of all, I hope. Lennie is likely to leave it under the tree before Christmas Eve and I encourage you to read it (over 700 words) and ask questions if you do not understand my points. Last essay got two readers. How can there be no substantive response to the subjects I write (other than criticisms of length) and have so many reference me in Davidoff’s words as “the absent but frequently mentioned dean of budget criticism, JML?”

    The City Council did not listen. Shame on them. Some retired. Many have been re-hired by the voters. And others have run for CC with no sense of their responsibility. They need to become lifetime learners, taught by the questions of taxpayers like you. Keep your CC representatives on speed dial. Keep track of what they are facing. Have coffee and bring them up to speed with your questions and observations. They can learn, in some cases, and in others, well the next election is two years away and perhaps it may look like something other than a high school popularity contest. Will you monitor? Do you care? Get everybody out of their “comfort zone” as we raft through the next series of Class V rapids. Keep paddling. Brace yourself. Will you get wet? Time will tell.

  • Rocco

    Here’s an issue no one ever talks about: the comparison of how a single-family home in Bridgeport is assessed and taxed, in comparison to a multi-family home. A single family home usually hosts one family or group. It has one garbage can, and one recycling can. It has the kids of that home unit who would use the schools. It usually has a driveway or a garage that allows people to park off street. It’s got one family or group that may need emergency services, or any other service of the city. Then you have a two- or three-family home. This home has one set of garbage and recycling for each unit. It has cars that will need to park on the street. It has one, two or three sets of families/groups that may need to be educated. It’s got one, two or three sets of families/groups that will need to use emergency services or any other city service.
    Here’s an example of the inequality in how these two different properties can be and are taxed. I am taking two properties in Black Rock that are currently on the market. I won’t use the address out of respect for the owners. One property is a three-unit multi-family home. It is assessed at $204,640; multiply that by the mil rate and that gives you a yearly tax bill of $8,636. This house is 3,362 square feet. It’s on .13 acres.
    Then there is a single-family home in the area on the market. It’s a small cape. It is assessed at $214,400; multiply that by the mil rate and that gives you a tax bill of $9,048. This house is 1,147 square feet. This is just one example, but you can find tons of them if you start looking.
    A comprehensive study needs to be done with a comparison about the way these two types of properties are taxed against each other, and the drain on the single-family owner and on the city. Single-family homeowners not only take on the brunt of the high taxes of Bridgeport, but they additionally carry the weight from the sweet investment those who own multi-family homes are benefiting from. What makes this even more unfair is many (not all) multi-family homes are not owner occupied, but are investment properties by people who live outside the city and who reap the benefit of the kind of profit they can make from them while the city struggles along to provide services to the people who live in them. Not being owner-occupied can also mean the upkeep is shoddy, which takes a toll on the aesthetics of the neighborhood, aka, cash cows.

  • Mojo

    *** Many nice folks on the city’s B&A committee, however the city budget is way over their heads in financial experience when it comes to going over line after line item, understanding the breakdowns and what $$$ went in, what went out and what’s left, etc. They are not experienced enough to find the hidden pots of gold, all the funded ghost positions or what’s projected to come in and from where and how much, etc. And of course the old “assumed monies” that are suppose to come in from the Feds, State, city taxes, city services, etc. Time for an experienced accounting firm to come in, hired by the city council, separate from the city’s new admin. and all the politics involved with the goal of transparency throughout the entire process. Lots will be learned by all and it will take most of the pressure off the B&A committee and the entire city council with all the needed cuts and hard decisions made towards a balanced budget in the future! It should be a wanted goal to achieve for a new B&A committee and new Mayor and admin; no? *** WAKE UP ***

  • Jeff Wright

    Here’s a question. Is the incoming Mayor and his staff appointments accepting the last-minute paycheck raises given by the prior Administration?

  • Zena Lu

    This is what happens when elections are actually popularity contests instead of educated choices. We, the public, put people in these seats based on “she/he is my friend” or “They are nice” or “everyone gets along with them” and ignore the fact the choices don’t possess the tools necessary to clean up the house. It’s as much the fault of the electorate as anyone’s. “Can they do the job?” is apparently not a question widely considered. Say what you want about Mr. Ganim, but at least he can do the job he was elected for. Not important to you? Well, its important to me.

  • Mojo

    *** Joe knows he’s in for a rude budget awakening and property revalue in 2016 that will have many city taxpayers calling for the city council and Joe’s heads! *** WHAT SORT OF LIES AND GREEN MAGIC WOULD FINCH HAVE USED IF HE WERE STILL MAYOR? ***

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