What’s Governor Dan Malloy’s commitment to Bridgeport compared to other municipalities? An OIB post last week, Malloy’s Bridgeport problem, covered the state’s failed two-year recruitment of the world’s largest hedge fund Bridgewater Associates. It triggered debate about Malloy’s devotion to Connecticut’s most populous city. Malloy critics maintain the recruitment of Bridgewater to Stamford that cost $16 million as part of a $115 million incentive package could have been invested in one of the state’s distressed cities. Malloy supporters counter the governor’s not receiving enough credit for his support to Bridgeport.
The state Bond Commission whose agenda is controlled by the governor is the place where project funding requests are approved. A state portal Bond Allocation Database tracks the various projects approved for Connecticut municipalities. You plug in a municipality and a page loads about the various project approvals and associated state expenditure. It allows for city comparisons, for instance Bridgeport versus New Haven, etc. Who’s getting the goodies?
Malloy’s critics say he’s preoccupied with wiring all the good stuff to his hometown Stamford, where he served as mayor. It appears–if the data portal is up to date–Malloy’s emphasis has been placed on recruiting businesses to Stamford with major tax incentives, rather than direct bond allocation for projects.
How’s Bridgeport doing? For the past year, as a sampling, the database shows $5.2 million allocated for matching funds for a federal grant to finance runway safety improvements and related work at the city-owned Sikorsky Memorial Airport; $9.3 million to Bridgeport Landing Development, LLC to assist in financing construction and infrastructure improvements for development of an approximately 140,000 square foot Bass Pro Shops retail store at Steel Point; $500,000 to the city for the Black Rock Business District Improvement Program; $2 million to the Bridgeport Economic Development Corporation to implement a minority business enterprise assistance program; $530,000 for construction of a new park and playground on Wayne Street; $1 million for flood control projects; $220,000 for improvements to Curiale School; $434,000 for improvements to Dunbar School; $1.4 million for the construction of an Andean Bear exhibit at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo; $786,000 to assist Charter Schools with capital improvements and repayment of debt; $712,000 to assist Charter Schools with capital improvements and repayment of debt for New Beginnings Family Academy.
Many of the spending requests come from members of the city’s legislative delegation and Mayor Bill Finch.
The database goes back to 1995, covering the John Rowland and Jodi Rell years as governor, so you can track the bond allocations that financed various projects such as $7 million for the ballpark at Harbor Yard back in 1997. The Jodi Rell years, for instance, were much leaner to the city than the Malloy years.