1:30 p.m. update. If you want city business leaders to grab a whiskey bottle and revolver the Bridgeport City Council is just the ticket to push them to the edge.
The council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee is considering a tax surcharge on commercial businesses that could generate millions in additional revenues and provide some relief for long-suffering residential taxpayers.
State law, according to Councilman Bob Walsh, allows a business tax surcharge during the implementation year of property revaluation, something that begins for the city for the budget year starting July 1, with a credit that goes to residential taxpayers.
Council members are researching the impact and Finance Director Mike Feeney Tuesday night provided the budget committee several financial scenarios to raise new revenues from an additional business tax. A five percent surcharge, for instance, would generate several million dollars in extra revenues.
It appears the surcharge possibility is being driven by the City Council and not city bean counters. Mayor Bill Finch has stated publicly his opposition to a business tax surcharge. Paul Timpanelli, president of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, will be howling if this issue picks up momentum. But the fact that Feeney is sharing financial scenarios with the council will cause the business leader and his constituents an ear-splitting migraine.
It’s hard to market the city as a tax-friendly place under any circumstances let alone the threat of a new tax. But Walsh said he would support a five percent surcharge, and he believes there’s an appetite with some council members to do the same, because of the historic tax burden on residential property owners.
Councilman Bob Curwen, co-chair of the budget committee, told OIB he could support a business tax surcharge of no more than five percent, but he would not commit that it would pass through his committee. Another member of the budget committee, AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia who represents the North End, told OIB she’s against a business tax surcharge. “Businesses are already stretched in taxes,” she said, “during severe economic times. We cannot expect to kick anybody while they are down.”
Timpanelli, no doubt, will be burning up the phone lines hoping to persuade council members the hardship an additional tax would mean to the commercial sector. The council’s budget-making committee is expected to vote on Finch’s proposed budget with changes later this week. If it includes a business tax surcharge stay tuned for the screaming.
News release from State Rep. Don Clemons
REP. CLEMONS PUSHES GREEN CLEANING IN SCHOOLS
Supporters use World Asthma Day to call for safer products
State Representative Don Clemons (D-Bridgeport) joined with a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers and advocacy groups at a State Capitol press conference in support of House Bill 6469, An Act Concerning Green Cleaning Products in Schools.
As hazardous cleaning chemicals have long been recognized as contributors to Connecticut ‘s growing asthma problem, the group used World Asthma Day to bring attention to the school children, cleaning workers, and teachers that are on the front lines of exposure in our schools. Clemons’ father worked as a custodian in the Bridgeport school system for over 30 years.
“This legislation will move Connecticut schools toward a more cost-effective and safe solution for cleaning schools,” said Clemons, who has been pushing the green cleaning concept over the past five years. “Every child and school employee has a right to an environmentally safe and healthy learning environment.”
The types of cleaning products covered in this legislation include: general purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, floor finishes, floor strippers, hand cleansers and soaps, but does not impact any disinfectant, disinfecting cleaner, sanitizer or other antimicrobial products.
The use of green cleaning products for state colleges, government buildings and vocational-technical high schools is already required. Local school districts would have two years to comply.
With no cost to the state and a potential savings for towns, the bill recently passed the legislature’s Education and Appropriation’s Committees and is now headed to the full House of Representatives.
News Release from Jim Himes
Himes to Host Credit Counseling Forum in Bridgeport
Forum provides guidance from experts on personal financial stability, highlight Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights
Congressman Jim Himes will hold a credit counseling workshop in Bridgeport on Saturday. The forum will include presentations from experts in personal debt management and financial literacy. Participants will have the opportunity to ask individual questions and learn how to avoid falling victim to the predatory practices used by many credit card companies.
Last week, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Credit Card Holders Bill of Rights. This legislation would provide increased protections against unfair, deceptive, and anti-competitive credit card practices. This bill will help protect American consumers by banning retroactive rate hikes on existing balances, increasing advance notice of future rate increases, and giving cardholders more control over their credit limits.
WHO: Congressman Jim Himes
Joan Carty, President, Housing Development Fund
Janet Siegenthaler, Access to Capitol Specialist, The Woman’s Business Development Center
Carolyn Vermont, Credit Counselor, ABCD
WHERE: City Hall Annex
999 Broad Street
WHEN: Saturday, May 9th
9:30am – 11:00am
UB graduation on Saturday
UB to honor 2 alumni at commencement
The University of Bridgeport will honor two alumni – Lambert C. Shell, Class of 1992, and Russ Landau, Class of 1977, at its 99th Commencement on Saturday. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. in the Arena at Harbor Yard.
Shell, who will deliver the address to graduates, is a former basketball star for the university who went on to become a national leader in creating youth and teen programs in the Queens, N.Y., Library that serve as a model for libraries throughout the nation. His programs have involved some 12,000 children and teens in the library, and have led to the creation of a new Library for Teens and a Queens Library High School for Information, Research and Technology. A human services major as an undergraduate, Shell led the UB basketball team to consecutive NCAA Division II finals in 1991 and 1992. He was a three-time All-American, Division II Player of the Year in 1992 and finished his UB career with 3001 points.
Landau, who will receive the Alumni Recognition Award, was an accomplished musician by the time he graduated with his bachelor’s degree in music composition and theory. He played with the Paul Winter Consort for 10 years, producing 14 records for the group, including the Grammy Award-winner for Best New Age Album, Prayer for the Wild Things.” He then began composing music for television shows. He is the lead composer for the smash-hit “Survivor.” Last fall he won an Emmy for his theme for “Pirate Master,” a CBS 2007 serial. He has won many ASCAP Film & TV Awards, and the Hollywood Reporter has named him one of the 50 most important people in reality TV. He lives in California but spends summers in Litchfield , Conn.
Shell and Landau will receive honorary degrees.
More than 1,800 will graduate from the university this year. Esther Teo, a top student and biology major who has been a President’s List scholar for the past four years, will be the student speaker. An active leader on campus and student service work, she’s been honored as a student leader and her work leading volunteers in Martin Luther King Day services in the community. She’s a musician, playing piano and guitar, and leads her church worship band.