I was away for a few days to attend a wedding in New Hampshire. The climate is different up there. I’m ready to hit golf balls and they’re still making snowballs. I must say, no matter where I go the juniper still hits the spot! Thanks to City Councilman Bob Walsh for filling in the gap.
The Bridgeport City Council will officially receive Mayor Bill Finch’s $490 million budget Monday night that calls for, depending on homeowners’ tax assessments, an approximate 10 percent tax hike, and slashes library staff by one third with additional deep cuts to school-based health clinics. The first public hearing on the budget will take place Wednesday night.
It’s a tough budget and I sympathize with a new mayor who no doubt is not making many friends with his proposed tax hike and cuts to programs that impact the needy.
Finch is laying his tough choices at the doorstep of his predecessor John Fabrizi who he says created an election-year budget loaded with gimmicks. Okay, let’s give Finch the benefit of the doubt that Fabs pushed through an election-year budget. Why has Finch kept everyone that built the Fabrizi budget on the payroll to create Finch’s first budget? The only new addition to the budget process is Chief Administrative Officer Andy Nunn, one of the few bright spots in a new administration loaded with hiccups.
We had some chatter over the weekend about the disappearance of former posters to OIB. Here’s the good news: traffic to OIB is substantially up since I instituted a new look and registration system. We will hit more than 30,000 page views in the first four weeks, one of the highest trafficked blogs in the state. Before the establishment of a registration system, posting was an anonymous free-for-all where anyone could stomp on the name or handle of a commentator. Sometimes, it was a royal pain in the butt to police. At the urging of many posters I implemented a registration process that prevents a good name (or bad depending on your perspective) from being soiled erroneously.
Ironically, some of the very people that had urged me to implement a registration system have been quiet. Paging Envoy5. Paging Cosmo Cat. Don’t know why. Wish they would post. It’s also a fact that several city employees that had posted are no longer sharing their thoughts for fear of retribution from city hall. The webzine, although read daily by the inner sanctum of the mayor’s office, is not popular with the mayor, and word has gone out to city hall employees–if you’re with us you do not post.
Thin skinned? Heavy handed? Legit? I look forward to happier days in Bird Man’s administration.
What say you?
Things are heating up in what may shape up as a crowded field in the Democratic primary for the 130th state legislative seat occupied by Felipe Reinoso. What candidate is district leader Mitch Robles supporting today? Incumbent Reinoso? José “Chico” Rivera? Looks like my old pal Sly Salcedo, an attorney by profession, may jump into the race. And, hey, did ya hear the news–Keith Cougar Rodgerson now resides in that legislative district. Could the Coug be sharpening his teeth for another run? Yo, Anna, are you managing Coug’s race?
Small Business News From City Hall
Mayor Bill Finch will officially open the City’s new Small and Minority Business Resource Center on the first floor of the City Hall Annex Tuesday at noon. The new office will provide small, minority and women-owned businesses with the information and training necessary to successfully pursue and obtain construction, commodities, architectural and engineering contracts with the City of Bridgeport. The Office will be managed by Deborah Caviness, who has been developing the Center at Finch’s direction since December of 2007.
The newly renovated office was completed by local minority contractors Mr. Erron Simmonds, Owner of New Direction Home Improvements, and Mr. Joseph Kirkland, Owner of Advantage Flooring.
City Hall news release
City of Bridgeport Receives Brownfields Grant from EPA
Mayor Bill Finch is happy to announce that the City of Bridgeport will be receiving a $200,000 grant from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the assessment of brownfields. The funding will come from the EPA’s Brownfields Program and was acquired through the City’s Central Grants Department.
“Bridgeport homeowners are disproportionately burdened by property taxes because we have numerous properties, many of them vacant brownfields, that currently do not pay taxes,” said Mayor Finch. “This $200,000 is very important to our efforts to clean up our city and reduce property taxes for our residents. I thank Congressman Shays for his key role in securing this important grant.”
“The Brownfields Program is one of the smartest and most important tools our urban areas have for revitalization. It helps put property and people back to work by spurring economic development and generating property tax revenue from previously idle sites,” Congressman Christopher Shays (CT-4) explained.
“The $200,000 the City of Bridgeport will receive will help assess and clean up contaminated sites throughout the community, making these areas safer for community residents,” Shays continued. “This is a competitive program and I congratulate the mayor and community officials who put together such a strong application. The EPA’s continued support is great news for Bridgeport and I am grateful for this assistance.”
Brownfield properties in Bridgeport that currently underperform or do not contribute to the City’s economy represent between $25-50 million in estimated lost property tax revenue per year. Brownfields also discourage investment and stability in surrounding neighborhoods, leaving an undetermined amount of revenue lost in potential economic development projects.