Talk about killing the messenger! Speaker of the House James Amann is not in a benevolent mood toward the city of his birth–Bridgeport–nor any Connecticut city for that matter, judging by his decision to trash a new proposal to tax messenger services in Connecticut that would generate millions extra for cities to cover the shortfall for tax-exempt properties that provide regional services.
Amann said, in a story published today by The Courant, that he was blindsided by the proposal making its way through the finance committee that would add a six percent tax to delivery services such as Fed Ex, DHL and UPS. The speaker said the current lagging economic climate was not the time to raise taxes. The tax against delivery services was also trashed by Republicans and the delivery services lobby.
Okay, fair enough, Mr. Speaker. But what about the long-suffering taxpayers of Bridgeport that foot the bill for suburbanites that use tax-exempt properties such as hospitals, colleges and motor vehicle departments?
Amann, who wants to be governor, has a tricky balancing act between keeping city voters happy while being viewed as fiscally prudent to the ‘burbs.
Bridgeport is bleeding during strained economic times. Mayor Bill Finch needs all the help he can get as his budget works its way through the city council process. He could use a boost from the speaker.
Council Approves Tax Abatement
Phil Kuchma’s Bijou Square project received a boost Monday night when the Bridgeport City Council approved his request for a tax break for the housing phase of his downtown redevelopment. Kuchma made the request to the city several weeks ago as a lagging economy threatened the financing portion of the partially completed housing complex on Fairfield Avenue. The redevelopment also includes Café Roma and Two Boots restaurants.
City Council President Tom McCarthy, one of 12 council members to vote in favor of the tax break, told OIB after the meeting that the council approval was necessary to keep Kuchma’s project moving.
“In the economy we’re in, in a downtown receiving the first major private redevelopment of brick and mortar in years, the city has to invest in this project. This is helping the taxes, not reducing the taxes. Otherwise we would have a half-empty building.”
Councilman Bob Walsh, a frequent critic of Kuchma’s tax break, voted against the measure. From what I’m told Walsh had a pretty good give and take with City Attorney Mark Anastasi about the legitimacy of the city’s standing to pass such a measure. I hope Walsh checks in to give us his first-hand account.
Mayor Bill Finch’s first city budget was also formally referred to the Budget and Appropriations Committee co-chaired by councilman Bob Curwen. A public hearing is scheduled for Wednesday night. No one on the council is looking forward to dealing with this budget that calls for an approximate 10 percent tax increase with deep cuts to the library staff and public health nurses.
The council’s vote on Kuchma’s tax abatement was an important victory for Finch during difficult economic times. The city must show the current business community and potential investors that it won’t leave an important development hanging.
My apologies to Sly Salcedo and anyone that posted in relation to the commentary about his possible run for the 130th state legislative seat that covers the lower half of the city. In my effort to create a separate posting about his potential run, the cyberspace gremlins vanished the commentaries. (That’s my way of saying I’m a dummy.) We will attempt to create a separate archival posting because Sly has a remarkable background to share with readers. We will no doubt be devoting space to his efforts when he makes a formal announcement.
Paoletto Says No
East Side City Councilman Rich Paoletto has decided not to challenge State Rep. Chris Caruso in an August primary.
City job demands and a desire to work through a difficult budget process were some of the reasons Paoletto cited for deciding to take a pass against Caruso who’s popular in his legislative district. Paoletto works for the city as a housing code inspector and anti-blight enforcement officer.
Paoletto also said he will not be endorsing anyone should a candidate step up to challenge Caruso.
“I want to stay at the local level dealing with the everyday problems of constituents,” Paoletto told OIB. “Let’s get through this budget cycle. It’s going to be a bad budget year.”
Paoletto said he will attend the public hearing on Finch’s proposed budget Wednesday night at 6 p.m. in the City Council chambers.
“Council members will go through that budget page by page. A lot of folks are upset where the mayor has proposed his cuts. I work for the Health Department so I know what each and every one of those health employees do on a day-to-day basis. I can’t vote for this budget the way it sits now.”
Finch’s budget calls for deep cuts to city library staff and school-based health employees.