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The Leap Of Faith, Factoring Uncertain State Dollars Into Local Budget Plan

March 10th, 2017 · 1 Comment · Analysis and Comment, City Budget, City Council

Four weeks from submitting a spending plan to the City Council per City Charter regulation, Mayor Joe Ganim’s finance team is trying to determine just how Governor Dan Malloy’s budget proposal, with many moving parts, will impact the new city budget that begins July 1. Malloy’s budget is currently in the hands of the state legislature that is considering legislation to waive local ordinance deadline regulations for a period so local budgets are more a reflection of incoming state funds versus a leap of faith. For Bridgeport’s budget the calculation includes hundreds of millions of state dollars.

Most of the city budget action is conducted by the council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee with the majority of business wrapped up in May. It can lead to a sticky situation because the state budget isn’t generally approved until just prior to legislative adjournment, this year set for June 7. Under proposed state legislation, local ordinances and charter deadlines governing budgets would be waived until June 30.

State legislators opposed to waiving local ordinances assert it’s not necessary if the General Assembly simply expedited the budget process. Easier said than done, according to legislation backers.

Meanwhile city financial officials are conversing with state bean counters to determine how state funding formulas impact the city to help determine the city’s spending plan to the City Council. Simultaneously city officials are working with Bridgeport’s legislative delegation to lobby legislative leaders for more dough. It’s the nature of the budget beast.

The language below, culled from the City Charter, spells out the duties of the City Council with key time lines regarding the budget.

Not later than the first Tuesday in April of each year, the mayor shall present to the city council a proposed budget for the ensuing fiscal year. The proposed budget shall include the following information: (1) an itemized statement of appropriations proposed by the mayor for current expenses, capital items and permanent improvements for each budgeted agency for the ensuing fiscal year together with comparative statements, in parallel columns of the requests made by the various budgeted agency of the appropriations and expenditures for the current and preceding fiscal years; the increase and decrease between the current and ensuing fiscal years in the appropriations recommend; and the expenditure estimates required by clause (c)(3) of this section; (2) an itemized statement of the taxes required and of the estimated revenues of the city from all other sources for the ensuing fiscal year with comparative statements, in parallel columns, of the taxes and other revenues for current and preceding fiscal years; of the increase and decrease estimated or proposed, and the revenue estimates required by clause (c)(3) of this section; (3) an estimate of the expenditures required by each budgeted agency for the fiscal year following the next ensuing fiscal year and an estimate of the taxes required and of the estimated revenues of the city from all other sources for the fiscal year following the next ensuing fiscal year; (4) a statement of the assumptions on which the estimates required by clause (c)(3) are based; and (5) such other information as the city council shall, by ordinance, require. The estimates and statements required by clauses (c)(3) and (c)(4) of this Section shall be advisory only.

(d)
The city council shall have the following powers with respect to any item in the budget recommended by the mayor.

(1)
It shall have the power to reduce or delete any item in the budget recommended by the mayor by a majority vote of the council members present and voting;

(2)
It shall have the power to increase any item in said budget or add new items to said budget only on a two-thirds (2/3) affirmative vote of the entire membership of the council.

(e)
Prior to taking final action on the proposed budget and mil rate the city council shall hold at least one public hearing at which members of the public shall be allowed to comment thereon.

(f)
Not later than the seventh day after action on the budget is completed, the city council shall, by resolution, set a mil rate for the ensuing fiscal year, which shall, together with other sources of revenue, generate sufficient funds to support the budget adopted by the city council. Such resolution may be disapproved by the mayor in the manner set forth in subSection (e) of this section. For the purposes of this section, action on the budget shall be deemed to be completed when (1) the budget takes effect pursuant to subSection (h) of this section; or (2) the mayor approves the budget or it becomes effective without the mayor’s approval pursuant to subSection (g) of this section; or (3) the city council completes action on any and all items disapproved by the mayor pursuant to subSection (g) of this section.

(g)
The budget adopted by the city council as provided in subSection (b) shall be submitted to the mayor not later than the second Tuesday in May of each year. The mayor shall sign the adopted budget if he/she approves it, or within fourteen days after adoption of the budget by the city council as provided herein, the mayor may veto any action taken by the city council pursuant to subSection (d) of this section. The veto power of the mayor shall be that of a line item veto only, and any such veto may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of the entire membership of the city council. If the mayor shall disapprove any action by the city council, he/she shall, no later than the close of business on the last day of said fourteen day period, return the proposed budget to the city council with a statement of objections. Thereupon, the president of the city council shall call a meeting of said council to be held no later than seven days after the receipt of the mayor’s veto. At such meeting the mayor’s statement of his reasons for disapproving any item shall be read to the city council and thereafter another vote shall be taken on such item and if it passes the city council by a two-thirds vote of the whole number of council members, it shall become operative and effectual without the approval of the mayor. If, within fourteen days after the adoption of a budget by the city council, as provided herein, the mayor neither signs the adopted budget nor disapproves any action of the city council, said budget shall become operative and effectual without such approval.

(h)
If the city council fails to adopt the budget by the second Tuesday in May of any year, the budget proposed by the mayor shall become the budget of the city for the ensuing fiscal year.

(i)
Transfers between line items of the adopted budget may be requested by the mayor, the director of policy and management or the head of any budgeted agency and be approved by the affirmative vote of a majority of the council members present and voting. Such transfers may be disapproved in the manner set forth in Chapter 5 of this charter.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Bob Walsh

    I heard the other day there is legislation in Hartford to require that the state budget be set earlier so that cities and towns can get a better feel for the funding.
    It obviously won’t help this year but might help future years.

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