Torres Issues Tax Storm Warning, ‘Poor Carrying Greater Load’

In a commentary that also appears in the CT Post in which he highlights “the poor that are carrying the greater load relative to their ability to pay,” Republican mayoral candidate Enrique Torres predicts “Not only will the revaluation of 2016 shift the tax burden further to Black Rock and other similar areas, but the overall value of the Grand List will decrease, increasing the mil rate, which will completely stifle any hope for future development.”

From Torres:

Recently, the Connecticut Post uncovered that the city of Bridgeport–working with now indicted former state marshal Charles Valentino and several city towing companies–effectively stole numerous cars from people who owed as little as $100 in back taxes. This practice of car booting and towing has primarily targeted the city’s poor population. I have written a resolution that will curtail this practice. If I am elected Mayor, I would ensure this practice is immediately stopped.

On a different front, I have discovered that for the past many years, our Tax Assessor’s office has likewise targeted some of the poorest areas of the city. Here is an example.

In 2006, 88 Clifford Street on the East End, one of Bridgeport’s poorest areas, sold for $170,000. Surrounded by terribly under-maintained homes, this two-family house was the best on the street. In 2008, the city valued the house at $258,120, approximately $90,000 greater than the sale price. The taxes on this house are $7588. Today, due to the ongoing deterioration of the neighborhood, this house can’t be given away, let alone sold.

In 2002, 132 Alfred Street in Black Rock, one of Bridgeport’s more affluent neighborhoods, sold for $191,000. All of the houses on Alfred are well maintained. In 2008, the city valued this two family house at $204,260, $52,000 LESS THAN 88 Clifford Street. The taxes on this house since 2008 are $6005 per year. Today this house could easily sell for around $250,000. The conclusion you should draw is that Clifford Street is overvalued by at least 500%.

Examples like this one are the norm in both areas. Effectively, the conclusion must be that the city has consciously targeted poor sections of town to subsidize reckless spending. In my 2003 race for mayor, I discovered and helped to publicize that Bridgeport was the highest tax burdened city in America. That status has not changed; in fact, since then we have solidified our lead. Since my wife and I pay high taxes we thought it was the middle class that felt the high tax burden most. I never thought it possible that the poor were affected worst. My research of the Grand List has convinced me that it is the poor that are carrying the greater load relative to their ability to pay.

Either negligently or criminally, the city and its agent Vision Appraisals got it really wrong in 2008. In the eight years since, the Clifford house paid $12,672 more in taxes than the Alfred Street house.

Clifford Street is not the only street so affected. The South End, East End, East Side, West End and pockets throughout Bridgeport are excessively appraised by the city Tax Assessor. This reality does not bode well for the economically stronger neighborhoods. Decades of this tax assessment fiasco has contributed to the abandonment of countless properties and the economic death of massive geographic areas of Bridgeport. To anyone in these areas who has lost his home to the Taxman, know that you were robbed by your city.

Only Mayor Finch has seen the 2012 revaluation which we paid $300,000. After seeing it he illegally destroyed it. That revaluations might have provided some relief to the East End, but it would have increased taxes in the areas of town that would have voted Finch out of office.

In 2016, if Visions Appraisals does their work honestly, Black Rock, Brooklawn, and most of the North End will face massive tax increases, some as high as 100%.

In 2016, if Vision Appraisals cooks the books to protect a politician, then we will continue stealing from the poorer sections. Before November, Bill Finch should be forced to answer for his role in this injustice against the citizens of Bridgeport, especially the poor.

That said, I believe this conspiracy dates back many mayors. The East End could NEVER be assessed with home values greater than Black Rock: NEVER. The only way houses on the East End can be valued greater than those in Black Rock is by a conscious effort by deviant bureaucrats directed by corrupt politicians to overvalue these properties.

Adding further injury to our prospects for revitalization, our most valuable commercial parcels of land are controlled by politically connected companies and are dramatically UNDERVALUED. O&G Industries’ 40 plus waterfront acres pay on average $3,000 per acre. Properties on Gregory Street (in the city’s tough South End) are paying a prorated $13,000 per acre; you can see the unfairness.

Overall, the economically better areas of the city are in for a momentous shock. Not only will the revaluation of 2016 shift the tax burden further to Black Rock and other similar areas, but the overall value of the Grand List will decrease, increasing the mil rate, which will completely stifle any hope for future development.

Our Tax Assessor’s Office is a critical cog in the revitalization of our city. Getting valuations correct is essential to stimulating development. Professionalizing this office is the first step to revitalizing Bridgeport.

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26 comments

  1. That’s good stuff, Ricky, I’m glad you finally went north of Ellsworth St to see what the real problems are facing people of color in Bridgeport. You could have done this a long time ago and without the need for a tattoo.

    1. There is a lot of information not available to the general public without a long FOI process. We all could have done this a long time ago, but having more access to information, and having the time, energy and focus to research and reach spot-on conclusions is something we all should demand of our elected officials.

    1. Most people in this city are sitting on a house they can’t sell, with a mortgage they can’t afford.
      Bill Finch gave everyone in this city a tax burden that in most cases is higher than any mortgage payment. At the same time Finch is spending like a drunken sailor, putting our kids and seniors’ futures at risk.
      In 2008 revaluation Bill Finch said “some people’s taxes will go up, and some people’s taxes will go down!”
      Most of the people whose taxes have gone down are very close friends of this Mayor! Just look them up on Zillow, 2008 to 2015 tax history on
      www .zillow.com

      Then vote Finch out!

  2. Mr. Torres, you did a good job with listing some of the problems but you give no solutions. Please don’t give the standard conservative Republican answer to fix these problems. We all are following the Republican candidates for President and even the state Republicans here and they have no answers. I’m not saying that Malloy has any answers.

    1. Ron,
      The remedy is as plain as the nose on your face: fix the valuation formula. Get rid of the “deviant bureaucrats … who overvalue these properties.”

      The Finch administration has not done one thing to change this system that unfairly targets the poor in order to benefit the politically connected. The “boot and tow” program was sold as a way to collect delinquent taxes; in reality it is used to punish the debtors by confiscating their cars, one of their few possessions of any value. Houses in crumbling and deteriorating ‘hoods are evaluated way more than they are worth so they are abandoned to rot and be taken over by squatters and the street trade, causing further urban blight.

      If the valuation system is not done accurately to reflect the actual worth of Bridgeport real estate, taxes will go up, in some cases by as much as 100%. When that happens there will be a tax revolt and the state of Connecticut will once again be called in to manage the city’s financial affairs because the voting public chose a crook or a pathological liar for mayor. Neither Ganim nor Finch has any desire or inclination to fix this problem. Finch is, in fact, willfully oblivious to it.

  3. The only solution is to bring in a tremendous amount of new businesses that pay taxes or build new homes, which is not going to happen. Also reduce city expenses. Rick is pointing out the future problems and past unfairness created by a lack of knowledge given to the taxpayers. LOOK FOR A SHOCKING TAX INCREASE. Taxpayers paid for an evaluation they have been prohibited from viewing.

  4. There is only one solution to the ills and high taxes in the largest city in the state of Connecticut as well as the poorest located in one of the wealthiest counties in the United States.

    Economic development, positive image, new schools, vision, determination and support from Hartford and Washington.

    Economic development is Mayor Finch’s strongest characteristic defining his administration. Without the hope of development including giving abatements to stimulate future growth, there is no hope for the poor or the wealthy. Black, white and everyone in between. There is only one choice for Mayor, Bill Finch. No other candidate has shared a vision of expanding our tax base. Steelpointe is only the most celebrated but a train station, Downtown overhaul, major waterfront plan. Honestly, you want to talk sidewalks and a fence and tell us Bridgeport deserves better?

    1. Steve, you are truly making yourself look bad but you don’t care because whatever Finch does or says you believe him, you look into nothing. Tax abatement is giving the children a bigger chance not to get ahead on life because of no tax revenue coming in for 40 years. These nickel and dime part-time jobs and minimum-wage jobs will not help Bridgeporters enough but it will help money going into his campaign fund. This guy is a loser and a liar but you keep on supporting him.

      1. Ron, this is your problem, you think the money generated by development cannot be put to good use. Your candidate does not understand the money generated can give relief to the taxpayer and create meaningful programs. You delude yourself into believing some of these low-wage jobs are not appreciated. 2500 applicants will beg to differ. One person gets an abatement and 100s of families and a neighborhood benefit. Those apartments on Stratford Ave. look fantastic. The less vision MJF AND HER SUPPORTERS ESPOUSE, THE MORE IMPRESSIVE MAYOR FINCH LOOKS. DEVELOPMENT CAN CURE ALL BRIDGEPORT’S PROBLEMS.

        1. Steve, you said, “Ron, this is your problem, you think the money generated by development cannot be put to good use.” Steve, America is about “capitalism,” the something good will be to put that money in their pockets and not into Bridgeport’s pocket. Next, Mayor Bill Finch has had the power of being mayor for seven years and what has he done, water pads and parks that do nothing to increase anyone’s salary or lower their taxes. We have part-time jobs paying minimum wage thereby making it impossible to purchase a home or even a used car, thanks mayor. This has nothing to do with MJF Steve, it has to do with your guy.

          1. Ron, never once do you share what your candidate will do. You do not win elections by incessantly criticizing an incumbent without a better plan and a vision. You do not want water pads for the children? What does Foster want??? Other than we deserve better. You never share any part of your candidate’s vision, because like Ganim, she does not have one. Do share when she has one, please!

            These incessant attacks on Finch calling him a LIAR are tiresome.

  5. Good job on that piece, Rick. I also believe we will see a shrinking grand list in the reval–not just because of property devaluations, but also because of the continuing exodus of businesses. I have been noticing empty storefronts in busier strip malls throughout the city (e.g., several vacancies–long-term–in Brookside), and many other vacant storefronts throughout the city, as well as lots of evidence of arson fires (residential and industrial/commercial), and abandonment/decay.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if these latter losses to the grand list account for $100,000,000 or better. Just look at the huge factories that burned in the West End and East Side/East End during the past four years. And the houses. Many in the aforementioned areas and even in the North End/Beardsley areas. People are taking the insurance money and running away from this place.

    “Better and better”–not in the estimation of many companies and long-term residents.

  6. Rick–Well done. Steve–Bpt certainly deserves better, at the very least in the honesty department. Today’s mailer from your favorite mayor claims he’s “holding the line on taxes while adding millions to the tax rolls.” Really? I for one am starting to feel sorry for him, as it’s becoming increasingly clear he has a serious problem with telling the truth. OIB.

  7. And Steve–have you ever checked out your favorite mayor’s job record in the private sector for 20 years before he fell back on the public trough as salvation for a failed life to that date? Would you believe six firings? Has his campaign ever alerted you to this? Due diligence remains a responsibility for all truly concerned citizens.

    1. The real truth behind Finch’s hostility toward UB is he was fired. That is the source of the bug that crawled up his ass, not the Unification Church.

      That bug must be very old and crusty by now, giving him angry stools.

    2. Come Back Bridgeport, since you keep addressing Finch’s work record in the private sector, I will remind you that you will owe me a Dolphin’s Cove dinner.

      I have been fully aware and reminded incessantly by anti-Finch people his record in the private sector. I will not join the choir and further I choose to take a philosophical and new-age approach to address the mayor’s less than stellar work performance. There have been millions worldwide who have read the international best seller, “The Alchemist,” the gist is we are all on a journey. We have no idea why things happen in our lives, but every action is important. Everything Mayor Finch has done. Every failure people are proud to remind him of that led him to being a councilman and a State Senator to his current position as mayor. Everything has brought Bill Finch to this moment. All his failures have led to this success. From a child who never knew his birth parents to being loved and raised by a family that chose him. To his second marriage and four sons. Every success and failure has brought Bill Finch to this moment. A city that was dying slowly. Corruption seemed to be the norm. The reputation that just seemed to stigmatize us and suffocate any hope for the future.

      I look at Finch’s failure in the private sector as part of his personal journey that made him the man he is today. The mayor of a city that is coming back to life. Development is happening everywhere. The youth of this city will grow up with parks and playgrounds and sports fields in every corner of the city. We are the Park City.

      Come Back Bridgeport, I appreciate your attempt to reduce Mayor Finch to a cartoon character and a joke. Mayor Finch has not been in the private sector in years. He is lucky there were many people who have given him a break. But every failed attempt has brought him to this point in time. We all have the same story, we all have our own journey. I believe Mayor Finch is in the right place at the right time. Green jobs and green technology. Respect from the President and the Governor. Endorsements. Etc etc etc.

      I know my support for Mayor Finch is annoying to those supporting Ganim or Foster. I believe both of them should not have run. The Alchemist is a quick read. Would you criticize Pavarotti if he failed as an accountant, brain surgeon or retail manager? He was meant to be an amazing singer, my favorite Nessun Dorma from Tirandot! That’s the only way I choose to explain the Mayor’s failures. You can just say he is incompetent, I respectfully choose to disagree. Remember, Dolphin’s Cove. 🙂
      .

      1. Finch’s travel through life has not taught him how to be successful. He has learned how to fail and never to blame Bill Finch for Bill Finch’s failures. He doesn’t have the skills to lead, his skills are to follow others and hope he will be rewarded for following. He’s a loser and a liar and he always will be a loser and a liar.

  8. I think Mr. Torres is talking about rental properties and not “houses owned by poor people.” Let’s get to the point.
    RISK is an intentional rendezvous with uncertainty. Here’s what risk tells me: the American economy is slightly contracting. Bridgeport’s economy is slightly expanding. Conclusion: things can change, but right now, Bridgeport is outperforming America. Mayor Finch is genuinely importing capital, resources and talent to aid the expansion. In the face of adversity, Bridgeport’s progress is underway and what’s good for Bridgeport is good for everyone who reads this blog. Re-elect Mayor Finch.

    p.s. David Walker was impressive on Morning Joe today. He wants to restructure entitlement programs but maintains he’s a professional (consultant) and not a politician.

  9. No, I think Rick said exactly what he meant and rental property never entered his conversation. This is classic gentrification of a neighborhood. I talk to an East End leader and he said there is extreme interest from New York investors on that property as well as the property where Julian Braxton has his store. He said he didn’t know as yet what Mayor Finch has promised these investors, but they are extremely cautious of anything Mayor Finch does or says. He also said they know Mayor Finch doesn’t have the best interest of the East End or the residents in mind.

  10. Property values along Seaview Avenue, while in the toilet now, will soon go up in anticipation of the Seaview Avenue Porkway Connector that is planned to link the Dan Malloy Feeder barge Port (at Steal Point) with the Dan Malloy Train Station and Malloy-McClutchy Stamford Workforce Housing Project to I-95 and the 25-8 Porkway Connector.

    A lot of the property speculation that is beginning to occur along Seaview Avenue is occurring as connected area residents, as well as connected out-of-state people, look to cash in on property along the proposed Connector, which will run from I-95, up Seaview Avenue, and through the GE property (past the polluted Harding High property), through Remington Woods, and then down Broadbridge Avenue to the Route 25-8 Porkway Connector. (The state will offer a profit to the speculators that are buying the land at in-the-toilet prices right now.)

    It is 1967 all over again. Once again, an economically ruinous, non-taxable road, that benefits only the connected and suburbanites, will bisect a major portion of Bridgeport, displacing tax base, bringing traffic noise and pollution, and further undermining the economy of Bridgeport. (That’s why nothing “high-end” is going into Steal Point.)

  11. Steve–please respond non-evasively. Is it a lie for Finch in yesterday’s mailer to claim he’s “holding the line on taxes”? And that he’s been “adding millions to the tax rolls”? Yes or no. If no, you are becoming as delusional as he.

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