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Minutes From City Council Meetings Highlight Funding Approval For Airport Improvements, Controversial Driveway

June 8th, 2013 · 9 Comments · Analysis and Comment, City Council, Development and Zoning, News and Events

Minutes of meetings from a September 17, 2012 City Council committee and then a meeting of the full City Council immediately following provide some insight into the funding approval that led to a controversial $400,000 gravel driveway at the Stratford home of a Bridgeport-based developer as part of a larger $40 million safety upgrade at Sikorsky Memorial Airport, owned by the city but located in Stratford. The driveway dust-up reported by the Connecticut Post has ousted Airport Manager John Ricci from his job until city officials sort out potential conflicts of interest regarding his business dealings with radioactive developer Manny Moutinho whose business interests have come under the scrutiny of federal officials. The latest from CT Post reporter Brian Lockhart here.

A review of the minutes from the meetings provide no specificity about the eventual work conducted by Moutinho for his own benefit, but highlights Ricci’s request for funding safety improvements at the airport. City officials say the improvements required replacing the old dirt driveway accessed by Moutinho. Two years ago OIB touched on Ricci’s relationship with Moutinho.

OIB reviewed the minutes of meetings posted on the city’s website. See below:

Minutes from September 17, 2012 council committee:

City of Bridgeport Economic and Community Development and Environment Committee Special Meeting September 17, 2012

CITY OF BRIDGEPORT

ECONOMIC and COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT and ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE SPECIAL MEETING MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2012 6:00 PM

ATTENDANCE:

Council members: Brantley; Co-chair, Martinez; Co-Chair, Curwen, Blunt, M. McCarthy OTHER(s): Council members: Council President McCarthy 128-11

Resolution to enter into a grant agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration to pursue a runway safety area at the end of the Airport’s Runway 6/24.

John Ricci pointed out where the runway will be located. He stated he received approval from the Mayor to enter into a grant agreement for $2.4 million. He explained that the grant is required to conduct the necessary design work and approve the permittee through the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. He said there will be a 5% local equivalent to $120k that will come from residual funds that was allocated for other projects and a bond may also be issued.

Co-chair Martinez asked the amount of the grant. Mr. Ricci reiterated that the grant is for $2.4 million with a 5% local match of approximately $125k; but the total project could run up to nearly $2 million.

Tom Sherwood (city budget director) added that the total amount could be closer to $3 million, noting that this is part of a $26 million project. He stated that the funds were available and the project would be funded in phases.

Council President McCarthy stated that he served on the Airport Commission so he had a unique perspective about the project that dates back seventeen years when there was a plane crash during 1994. Overall, he said that the City of Bridgeport feels that they need a larger and wider runway, although the Town of Stratford doesn’t necessarily agree. He explained the potential risks that aircraft have landing that could occur due to the current condition of the runway; so it’s important to address the problem due to the high risk of a plane crashing into the fence. He further noted that there were four (4) crashes in the past.

Mr. Ricci stated that they adding a safety area to the end of the runway that’s currently there.

The item was temporarily tabled for the purpose of obtaining additional information regarding the funding source

Co-chair Brantley returned to item 128-11 Resolution to enter into a grant agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration to pursue a runway safety area at the end of the Airport’s Runway 6/24.

COUNCIL PRESIDENT McCARTHY MOVED TO APPROVE CONTINGENT UPON APPROVAL OF THE BONDING PACKAGE IN THE BUDGET & APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE

COUNCIL MEMBER M. McCARTHY SECONDED

MOTION PASSED UNANIMOUSLY

Full council meeting that followed:

From Minutes of Council meeting September 17, 2012

COUNCIL MEMBER dePARA MOVED TO COMBINE AND APPROVE THREE (3) ITEMS AS AMENDED 131-11; 132-11 AND 133-11 MODIFICATION TO THE FY2013-2017 FIVE YEAR CAPITAL PLAN CONCERNING CITY PROJECTS

COUNCIL MEMBER BRANNELLY SECONDED

Council member Baker asked why they were putting so much money into the airport. Council member T. McCarthy stated that he sits on the Airport Commission. He explained that the runway needs to be repaved and the FAA (Federal Aviation Association) won’t pay for it. He further explained that if it’s not repaved, the less traffic the airport will see.

And when the safety zone goes in, take-offs and landings will advance; additionally, when the quality of the runway advances, then they will draw more people to the airport. He clarified that the airport has never made a profit and the project will allow a safer runway and landing and this will ultimately attract more people and revenue.

Council member Brantley echoed Council member McCarthy, noting that the safety issue is very important.

**

MOTION PASSED WITH FOURTEEN VOTES IN FAVOR AND ONE VOTE IN OPPOSITION (COUNCIL MEMBER BAKER)

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9 Comments so far ↓

  • Black Rockin

    This council meeting of our best and brightest looks like they voted for their own separate indictments, they will get rid of themselves and a few dollars in personal legal fees.

  • Andrew C Fardy

    The city officials are lying through their teeth. There is no mention anywhere about the $400K for a new driveway for Manny M.
    I went back to July 2012 B & A meeting and the question of financing for the airport was brought up and here is the answer from Tom Sherwood:

    112-11 Approval of Additional Capital Project Authorization to the 2013-2017 Capital Plan.
    Mr. Sherwood said that there were two steps in approval of the Capital Project Plan. Council Member dePara asked how much this would increase the debt service. Mr. Sherwood said that there were two factors, one being that the State money would be drawn down first. There will be other factors that will affect the City’s costs when the time comes down to start using the City’s funding. There could be a bond refunding or other projects that have surpluses that could be used against the costs.

    I would bet if an investigation and I mean a REAL investigation were held we would learn State and Federal monies were used to finance this driveway. If I am wrong on that I am right on this, the B & A committee and the full council had no idea what they were voting on. Lemmings.

  • Jimfox

    So what the fluck does that have to do with one of the Finch Team’s (Manuel “Manny” Moutino) $400k gravel driveway (with underground utilities and fire hydrant)?

    Let’s face it, Brannelly will second anything!

  • John Marshall Lee

    As Tom McCarthy says, it is hard to be against Airport Safety. So we continue to spend local, State and Federal millions and operate at a loss with no business plan or projection attached to any of the conversations showing how prudent it is for us to be financially involved in this out-of-town project for so long.

    If you were to look at most decisions the City Council makes, you will see very few sets of minutes with any fiscal exhibits you will understand. Routinely fiscal information that would pass the scrutiny of a finance board is not even provided, or offered to be provided after a decision. That is the way this City Council operates. Change is needed so badly.

    The Airport has never made a profit … OK … because then we would need to pay taxes to Stratford as property owners, I am told. However, we have operated in a balanced fashion during one or more of the Fabrizi years. What has changed? Revenues down? OK, reduce expenses.

    And then Professor Sherwood, how about monthly reports of “places where we are running surpluses?” The external auditors have commented in letters in recent years about old accounts not being closed out. If it is taxpayer money, if it comes from TANs or Bonds and is hanging around, Tom, why don’t you let us know?
    Tom, did you look at the final line of the February 2013 monthly financial report that came out in early May? Do you have any technological excuse for what did not appear on the Total Appropriations line? Who is the last person in OPM or Finance to review what is put out systematically late by the City? Will this earn the City a certificate? Time will tell.

  • The Fixer

    Oh what a tangled web we weave. Sherwood may have finally been caught up in his web of lies. The fact that a special committee meeting was called the same night as the City Council meeting leads one to believe the approvals were pushed through the CC hastily and without due diligence. That in itself raises suspicion. The fact Sherwood attended a special committee meeting and talked about “residual funds” yet never mentioned Manny’s driveway is typical deceitful Sherwood. Unfortunately we have naive and uneducated committee members who are overwhelmed by Sherwood-speak and don’t even know what questions to ask. Sherwood has a reputation for lying and withholding information when it comes to the budget. John Ricci is a stand-up guy. Tom Sherwood is not. Something is up here and John Ricci is the scapegoat. As Follow the Money would say, “follow the money.” Bring in the feds.

  • Follow the Money

    If the cub reporter, Jimmy Olson, knew how to follow the money he would find the answer. Once Ricci is vindicated of this innuendo and smear campaign, this reporter, the paper and mayor are going to have egg on their faces. I hope they get served some Egg Fool Young.

    The Truth Is An Absolute Defense!

  • Follow the Money

    Bill’s White Bucks Are A Little Dirty!
    /curcio-i-hosted-a-finch-fundraiser/

    The last two paragraphs sum it up best and Ron Mackey’s comment.

  • BlackRockGuy

    Time to turn the airport over to the state … with the state running it maybe there will be the resources to bring back scheduled commuter service.

  • Mojo

    *** To understand the “method to the madness,” one needs only to read between the lines before, present and upcoming future, no? ***

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