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Shark Attack On State Municipal Support Could Bite City Taxpayers

January 25th, 2013 · 4 Comments · City Budget, News and Events

shark attack

Come on Speaker Sharkey, be nice to us in Bridgeport.

CT Mirror reporter Keith Phaneuf is the John Marshall Lee of Connecticut scribes. He relentlessly pursues, reviews, analyzes and asks questions about state budget items while Lee, a regular OIB contributor, does this on a local level as watchdog of the city budget. Connecticut Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, in a story written by Phaneuf, says a new set of jaws may take a bite out of state support of municipalities this legislative session, something that could impact taxpayers in the state’s largest city. Bridgeport’s budget relies hugely on state funding. Mayor Bill Finch, grab a harpoon! From Phaneuf:

For years, ideas such as regionalizing school calendars, reforming special education funding and other proposals to trim the cost of local government were given brief discussions at the state Capitol–though nothing more given to their controversial nature.

But since Connecticut’s cities and towns may have to get by with less state funding in the next budget, the time for delicately avoiding politically sticky cost-cutting ideas is over, House Speaker J. Brendan Sharkey pledged Thursday.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey says Connecticut needs to “fundamentally change” the way it funds local governments.

Addressing more than 100 state and municipal leaders and social service advocates at a state budget forum at the Capitol, the Hamden Democrat said the days of being able to hold cities and towns completely harmless while dealing with the state’s fiscal woes likely are over.

“We have to fundamentally change the system by which we fund our local government,” Sharkey told the crowd at the forum sponsored by Connecticut Voices for Children.

The Hamden lawmaker, who was elected earlier this month to his first term as speaker, noted that the General Assembly and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy “did not balance the budget on the backs of cities and towns” two years ago when facing a state budget deficit of historic proportions.

The biennial budget he and the legislature adopted in June 2011 not only spared all municipal aid from cuts, it immediately gave municipalities a share of sales and real estate conveyance tax revenue worth about $50 million per year and increased the Education Cost Sharing grant by $50 million starting in 2012-13.

But that budget also increased state taxes and fees by $1.5 billion.

And with a sluggish economic recovery limiting revenue growth and pushing up demand for social services, analysts estimate state finances are headed for a $1 billion-plus deficit in the next fiscal year unless changes are made.

Both Malloy and Sharkey have said, given the recent big tax hike, another further state tax increases must be considered only as a last resort.

The two leaders also have warned cities and towns that municipal aid may not be spared from the budget axe this time.

Read more here.

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4 Comments so far ↓

  • Joel Gonzalez

    The mayor alone with a “harpoon” will not be enough. Finch is going to need a bigger boat or more like a Ferry Boat, the entire Bridgeport Democratic Party members on board with poison-tipped harpoons for this one.
    www .youtube.com/watch?v=2I91DJZKRxs

  • Joel Gonzalez

    If you went to take a look in the (CT) mirror, you may have noticed option number three (3). Keep an eye on this option and don’t be surprised if all three are used:

    A third option could be to split the local tax bill property owners receive.

    Rather than receiving one bill that reflects both general government costs–police, fire, public works and general towns administration–as well as education expenses, it might be wiser to bill taxpayers separately for both.

    The bulk of local budget dollars are spent on schools, yet the education component of those budgets often don’t receive the same level of public scrutiny, Sharkey said. Forcing local school boards to send bills directly to taxpayers could lead to greater accountability, giving those boards more incentive to find cut costs, the speaker said.

    James Finley, executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said CCM is ready to consider all of those proposals.

  • John Marshall Lee

    It’s nearly 6:00 PM on the fourth Friday of January, 2013. Connect that fact with our City Charter, please. If we had good fiscal governance in Bridgeport you should have been able to receive a copy of the previous month, December 2012, financial report of revenues and appropriations at the City Clerk office. After all it is about your property tax money.

    I went to that office after two weeks away and found indeed there was a new report available. In this case it was for October 2012. So we continue to remain at least two months in arrears as the public, and that also means that the City Council or their B&A group, don’t have the info.

    No narratives about variances. Still no explanation for reductions full time earned salaries by net $3,600,000 from September, and the bottom line continues to show a projected deficit of $2,400,000.

    And the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report? Not there either. How are we doing financially, Mayor Finch? No comments for a very long time. Wonder why? Time will tell.

  • Mojo

    *** This should be no surprise to anyone who vote for “Danny Boy” for Gov! ***

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