Sue Brannelly’s New Budget Role

McCarthy, Brannelly
City Council President Tom McCarthy and Black Rock Councilwoman Sue Brannelly at the Freezin' For A Reason charity event a few years ago.

No one can accuse Black Rock City Councilwoman Sue Brannelly of fearing the legislative fire that is the Budget and Appropriations Committee. The other night City Council President Tom McCarthy appointed Brannelly to serve as co-chair, with East Side council member Angel DePara, for the most demanding committee on the city’s legislative body less than two weeks from Bill Finch submitting arguably the most challenging budget of his mayoralty. Brannelly represents the most active constituency in the city. Black Rockers are noisy.

While a good portion of the city’s electorate is brain dead, Black Rock, that waterfront hamlet, features the most involved voters in the city consistently producing the highest election turnout. McCarthy turned to Brannelly after long-time budget co-chair Bob Curwen verbally announced his resignation from the council in January citing family health reasons, only to declare within the last week he wants back in on the council. He had not submitted his resignation in writing, so he’s still officially a council member.

In Curwen’s absence, McCarthy had a decision to make: who to fill the void? He chose Brannelly who has served as a member of the committee. Taking on co-chair, however, brings new responsibilities. It’s a lot of work, a lot of hours moving through a $500 million budget proposed by the mayor. What stays, what goes, interviews with department heads.

Brannelly comes from good political stock, her father John Brannelly was active in politics and served as city clerk decades ago. But Sue Brannelly’s not a classic politician. She’s a health care professional with a penchant for speaking her mind. You ask Sue a question and you generally get a straight answer. She’s also not bashful about asking you a question. She has surprised many in her district, however, as a supporter of Finch, not the most popular person in the neighborhood per recent elections.

So in her new role, Brannelly will be juggling a demanding constituency in an election year for her while balancing her allegiance to the mayor. Not an easy task.



  1. And notice the ad for Modern Plastic’s new location in Shelton on the homepage. I think it is highly appropriate being next to an article about our new budget person. Another business gone from Bridgeport.

  2. Black Rock has the worse paved streets in Bridgeport. She lied to the voters in Black Rock on the School (YES) vote with her robo calls. She’d be a good fit for the Finch budget team when our taxes go through the roof in Black Rock.

  3. I know this will drive most of the OIB audience crazy but as Council people go, I like Sue Brannelly. From what Lennie stated, her life is not financed by the City and she’s pretty candid.

    I did like her and others’ anti-massage parlor push. Haven’t really seen anything proactive like that generated by other council people.

    That said, working on that budget would be a challenge for anybody given the administration … Even JML.

    Hope she’s up to it.

    1. Oh Ever–her sister is financed by the city, her anti massage parlor push? Allowed–think about who the owners are … she took Auden’s bill and gave it to the city attorney to write, did not engage any other council people to get their voters involved in closing the parlors, her phone does not take messages, she rarely answers emails–she is the city rep who keeps the library from getting all the mil rate we voted to give them each year–which is usually the amount needed to show a balanced budget … she voted to raise taxes when Black Rock said no–during Nemo she was completely silent on the Facebook update page–no calls answered or returned–and now she is going to to what is best for Bridgeport Citizens with regard to the budget? I seriously doubt it.

  4. I also live in Black Rock and Ronin the taxes are through the roof and the roads aren’t paved because the election push was on and the Finch party knew MJF had the area so why pave it.

    1. Hey Chosen, I hear Susan and Finch will hit Black Rock with the largest tax increase this community has ever seen. Then we’ll see how candid Brannelly and the Snowfinch are when they give the taxpayers a massage.

  5. Sue is a good person. We have worked together at the Black Rock Food Pantry for several years and she finds time, energy and humor to serve her community. When it comes to financial issues, I have been disappointed in her general response which is to ignore the questions I ask and the story I have told about the current Mayoral administration. (Sue appointed me to the Citizens Union group that reviews HUD-CDBG requests. I served there for two years with regular attendance, did homework to understand the requests, asked many questions that got answers and voted to promote fairness to all parts of the City in the recommendations. I even recused myself, as the Federal program requires, where I had a “conflict of interest.” I was surprised to discover I was not re-appointed. Never got an explanation of that process. In the two years I did serve the other CU nominee from our neighborhood was not present. Does the CU process mean anything important, I came away wondering?

    I have publicly acknowledged, in fact applauded, her initiative in getting the “monthly financial report of revenue, appropriations and variances” to become a standing agenda item on Budget and Appropriations. “One small step …” However, since that happened more than one year ago, I fail to see where that has made one iota of difference in what that Committee has overseen.

    Each time I speak before the City Council in recent months, I have provided a copy of my comments by email to all of the Council as well as the City Clerk. It is more convenient for the City to have the file electronically to be posted, although I provide a paper copy as well.

    My style is to ask plenty of questions. Sue is my Council person and has not responded. (Of course, very few of the other Council persons have responded, but several have occasionally, to provide answers, see what I am talking about or ask me questions.) I am sure she has her own reasons. But I am disappointed she has bought the entire administration story about everything, hook, line and sinker instead of doing her own research. The Sherwood story is so compelling I guess no other alternative is necessary or worthy of consideration, but it’s only part of a story, and what you do not know can and will hurt all of us. It will be interesting to see if Sue and Angel can get through the budget review season, for sure with listening to answers about where cuts can be made, with their own judgment as to what is a City priority and what is not, and how to add no new tax this year. NO TAX INCREASE. And I hope Angel and she have something to say both initially and in response to the public gathered at the ONE PUBLIC HEARING instead of sitting mute to public comment. Maybe they will allow brief comments from the public at each of the SPECIAL BUDGET HEARINGS???

    Then when the operating budget is settled, perhaps they will hold a hearing on the Capital budget as the Charter calls for, and then another one to show the City Council members read the CAFR and understand the long-term implications described there.

    And I am happy with her actions to improve City quality of life regarding the massage parlors and/or adult entertainment. That indicates some solidarity with the majority of women who took that issue to the State and City and promoted change for the benefit of respect for women, example for youth of the community and a change that may assist an increase in property values. However, getting our financial house in order affects every person in our community. Failure to be OPEN and ACCOUNTABLE as a co-chair with experience and operate a TRANSPARENT process will not be a favorable signal to the community I’ll hazard. Time will tell.

  6. Sue needs to make sure taxes are not raised. Higher taxes are totally unacceptable given our current outrageous tax levels and the fact taxes were raised last year. There is plenty of room for spending cuts, including in the health care area. Holding the line on taxes will be a litmus test for candidates in November’s elections.

      1. BlackRockGuy,
        As I mentioned in a previous article blog post, I am not eligible for any federal pension or retiree health benefits. I’m like a vast majority of Americans who just want government to perform in a responsible, effective and equitable manner and for it to maintain competitive, reasonable and fair tax levels.

  7. *** Even though most council members really don’t have a clue when it comes to the city budget, council member Brannelly should be given an opportunity by residents in her district to do the right thing towards making the right decisions concerning the Mayor’s proposed budget. It’s known she does tend to drink, at times, a lot of the Mayor’s administration “kool-aid” but hopefully she will be able to control her craving for it during budget time! There seems to be 3 possible proposed city budgets that depend on the State’s final budget do’s or don’ts; fair, bad and terrible! If the council were smart, they would have hired an independent firm to assist the B&A committee in working on the city budget months ago. That idea obviously has not crossed anyone’s mind, so it seems it’s another budget crapshoot year for the taxpayers of Bpt. *** YOU GET WHAT YOU VOTE FOR! ***

  8. Mojo, that is not a bad idea, but the CC appears constitutionally unable to spend their OTHER EXPENSE funds for any such practical purpose. So let’s use the “inexpensive” way of doing it.
    See the CITY CHARTER-Chapter 9 – Budget and Fiscal Controls … Section 4 City Council – Power to Procure Information.
    “The City Council shall have full power to require the different City officers and employees to furnish all the information which they may possess and to exhibit to it all books, contracts, reports, and other papers and documents in their respective departments, or in their possession, requisite, in the opinion of said board, to enable it to discharge the duties imposed upon it by this chapter and it is hereby made the duty of all the city officers to furnish and exhibit the same when so required.” You want it? You got it … according to this language … “show us a budget with all of your assumptions about outside revenues and with appropriations cut to such a level balance is met when an amount from local property taxes NO GREATER THAN THE CURRENT YEAR, that means WITH NO TAX INCREASE for Bridgeport property owners, is included … Isn’t that simple??? What does it take? Courage to do the job the public expects you to perform as REPRESENTATIVES? Can’t get the words out of your mouth? That is the perfect image of CONFLICT OF INTEREST, isn’t it? Time will tell.

  9. Based on her past performance on the B&A committee there is no chance she will ask the hard questions or institute the necessary cuts.
    The problem is the council has been approving false budgets for years and the time is coming no amount of Tom Sherwood’s bullshit is going to stop a tax increase.
    In fairness to Brannelly there is no way she by herself could prevent a tax increase nor can the B & A.
    The council will pay for their head in the sand budget votes but the real shame is we the taxpayers will pay heavily.

  10. No new taxes. Yes. We also need to think creatively about generating more revenue. Why not leverage some of the assets the city has? Now let me see, if there is a Wright Brothers National Memorial and they are no longer first in flight, then we should have a memorial in Bridgeport. After all, there are 500,000 people a year who visit that memorial. Meanwhile, this is the best article out on the Whitehead story that I can see.

  11. Sue Brannelly needs to ask Vallas how much his new electronic time clock system is going to cost. Did it go out to bid or is the vendor another “friend?” With all the needs of our school system, you’d think we have better use for our tax dollars than installing electronic time clocks in every school building. It never end, does it.

    1. Fixer,
      Go to the next Board of Ed meeting and ask your question about the electronic time clocks. Fastest way to ask and probably get an answer, I suggest. Also if anyone has a problem with purchases in the City, there is a Board of Public Purchases that meets and would be a great place to place your questions relative to process.

      As far as time clocks are concerned, I did not know this was being done, but don’t they show what time someone shows up for work or departs from a site? Is there a problem in this department about hours or days on the job? I seem to have heard missed days by Bridgeport teachers average about 22 per year. Sick days or personal days I am not sure, but that would be about 12%. What does that do to instruction schedules? What are numbers in other systems? Or among sub-groups within the system? How many of those 22 days are fully reimbursed by annual contractual sick days and then by banked sick days? Are all these days for ‘sickness?’ Lots to question, it seems. The public taxpayers will expect answers, not anecdotes from the Super. Time will tell.

  12. Sue Brannelly and the City Council need to tell the Mayor to submit a budget that does not borrow to pay operating expenses and does not raise taxes using reasonable assumptions. The Mayor is CEO and that’s his job. The Council represents the taxpayers who have had enough of poor services and outrageous taxes.

      1. BRG,
        Look up 9-10 messages to DW’s answer to your last question, I think. No PENSION. No BENEFITS. Still asking property tax questions in Bridgeport. Why don’t you join with us and be a BUDGET OVERSIGHT BRIDGEPORT watcher too? Maybe you would get some other questions answered while watching B&A at work. Time will tell.


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