Watch: Public Hearing On Board Of Education Budget

More than 100 turned out Tuesday night at the City Council’s public hearing on the Board of Education budget mostly urging additional money for the underfunded school system. City Councilman Kyle Langan provides video coverage. See above.

Co-chair of the budget committee Maria Viggiano shared this budget update on her Facebook page:

‼️Budget Updates‼️ We are midway through budget season. Here are some things you should know:

The budget presented to the city council by the Mayor and his administration has an $8.3 Million budget assumption in state aid. That money is assumed to come in but is in no way guaranteed. Some of it is 50/50 in terms of our odds of receiving the funds.

The proposed 0.8 mill rate tax cut will cost $4.5 Million and will save the average homeowner a few dollars per month depending on home value.

Overall, budget growth is due in part to pension obligations and underperformance (due to last year’s down market) as well as contractually obligated salary increases for unionized staff (over 90% of city employees are in unions). One of our pension plans (Plan A) remains dangerously underfunded (it is currently only about 25% funded).

Bridgeport public schools are facing a $11 Million deficit to maintain current staffing and services.

The Office of Economic Development is asking for money to fund projects that will make Bridgeport appealing to businesses and developers, which can potentially grow the Grand List and bring new revenue to the city.

The fire department wants more money for Narcan (very expensive) and to train an new class of firefighters (many current firefighters are at retirement age).

The police department says it is understaffed and wants a realistic budget for overtime.

These are just a few of the requests the city council’s budget and appropriations committee has heard this month.

This Saturday (4/27) through May 4 is when the rubber hits the road in terms of committee negotiations and decision-making over the budget. We have added another budget discussion meeting on Monday, 4/29 because there is still much to discuss and decide.

FYI: All city council budget meetings are OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. See my page for the most recent schedule.



  1. Midway through the budget system…..and now is the time to report to voters, taxpayers and other miscellaneous citizens that “time is telling”??
    May I take issue with your first declaration: “That the Mayor’s budget has an $8.3 Million budget assumption in state aid.” Doesn’t the Mayor’s budget include ECS State of CT funding that stands about $165 Million in our operating budget submitted to the Council? Experience in recent years with a State government in trouble has shown the same concerns, but interestingly enough it did not stop our municipal government from putting public safety pensions in the hands of the “non guaranteed” risks and 50-50 gambling assessment of B&A leadership. Why such estimates when such reliance is required decades into the future?

    Budgets have annual pension expenses, but the time to point that out to the public in Council Chambers is before the pension obligation is assumed by the Council, isn’t it? When did the City Council understand the nature of the change from local Plan B Pension to CT MERS? Alone it is costing $100 Million or more for that change over a quarter century, or about $4 MILLION PER YEAR (perhaps with additional amounts required in future years when assumed interest rates are not met?

    Plan A, also for former Public Safety employees, police and fire, was originated by Ganim1 when he borrowed $350 Million around 2000 for 30 years of repaying FROM THE OPERATING BUDGET EACH YEAR over $30 Million each year. (SEE POLICE AND FIRE BUDGETS.) Because of “market risks” to pension plan investments through the years, assets of the plan have shrunk and thus our trustees are contributing $10s of millions more to maintain the amount remaining. That is also paid by the operating budget. Has Ganim2 addressed the pension squeeze when presenting his annual budgets. Why not? Risky business, after the fact? But how did the Plan B assets get transferred to Hartford? Our local money management was getting equal or better returns than MERS?

    OPED wants more money? How do they do when they are responsible for selling off property they own as a source for development money? Do they even earn back what has been invested in such property in the past? (And maybe allow some expense to be shown when they receive property that at one time was taxable, but has been gone for a time?) I want to be fair to fearless property management, but the scorecard in recent years has not been subject to bragging at City Hall, has it?

    Understaffing at Police Department: The Mayor claims that he has hired more than the 100 promised patrol men and women since 2015. Perhaps he and the Chief have forgotten that some of the trained move to other departments rather than see Bridgeport as a career, others serve and then retire and yes the shifts must be filled with trained personnel. But how many years has it been since a genuinely professional study was done to look at our Table of Organization, personnel policy, processes and tell us that we are in the best possible state? Or not?
    Fire Dept has historically handled new classes of trainees in a more timely manner, not subject to abuse of overtime. (Can we assume that the Fire Department has no “external overtime” system in place, that no longer pays the full expense of personnel on external duty as the Police Department used to claim.)

    I have set out more in this note than “three minutes” before Council budgeteers would allow. But those who raise questions like I have, for years, find few if any Council persons who wish to understand the larger picture. It is a great reason for the creation by a new mayor to seek month in and month out review of fiscal practices and decision making with an acknowledged and respected experienced group of bi-partisan Bridgeporters for the future. Just how would the current Council satisfy a Police Department with ever rising annual expenses requesting a “realistic budget for overtime”? What info would have to be in the hands of at least the B&A in terms of who, how many, pattern of total compensation, how OT is allocated, internal vs. external OT, and many other facts? Time will tell.

  2. I sense that Council Member Viggiano is sincere in her statement on her Facebook page.
    I know that JML’s comments over time are legitimate points for the city council to be aware of.
    I have concluded that the detail and scope of the Bridgeport city budget is beyond the ability of city council members to understand and deal with.
    Few, if any, council members in recent years have the education, work experience or critical thinking skills for this task.
    Charter revision of 1988 moved budget oversight to the city council. It worked for a time, but without State oversight, competent city council members and mayors committed to dealing with long-term issues, the city council oversight is a sad joke.


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