Your Chance To Squawk About The Municipal Budget In Election Year For City Council

The City Council’s Budget & Appropriations Committee, chaired by Scott Burns and Ernie Newton, will conduct a public hearing Tuesday at 7 p.m. regarding the nearly $600 million general fund budget proposed by Mayor Joe Ganim for the fiscal year starting July 1. See budget document here.

Ganim is dropping the tax rate by just over 10 mils from the current 54 in a revaluation year that is expected to produce a cut or flatlining of taxes for most homeowners with some areas experiencing an increase depending on their respective assessments.

The budget committee could vote on its alterations as soon as May 1 prior to a full vote by the council. But what’s done in committee is generally adopted by the larger body.

Education advocates protest Ganim’s flat-funding of the school district after promising to do more during his 2019 reelection. Ganim’s rejoinder: the federal pandemic response has coughed up more loot for schools. What’s likely to happen? The budget committee beefs up more dough for schools in a council election year, Ganim signs the budget and everyone saves face, or not, depending on the strength of council opponents.

Ganim does not face reelection until 2023.

The public hearing will be conducted by Zoom/Teleconference. The public may dial into this meeting by calling the following conference line and then entering the conference code:
Dial-In Number: (929) 436 2866
Meeting ID: 965-268-353



  1. My Testimony from yesterday.

    First, I would like to begin by asking the question I was not allowed to ask at last nights education budget meeting. For some strange reason for the first time Board of education members were not allowed to be heard from. My question would be to two finance people present, maybe one of the city counselors could ask and get back to me with an answer. The question is “do your realize if the board follows your advice and takes money from the federal covid funds it will not only allow for less students to receive mental health services, tutoring, summer programming, after school programming, up to date technology etc, there will be the added problem of having to make up for any year of flat funding to the tune of at least 10 million dollars a year. Bridgeport unlicensed schools have rising fixed costs like salaries, health care and pension costs that cost that much. Headed into fiscal year 2022 it looks like that may be the case. If this flat funding continues into 23, and 24 fiscal years the Board will need 40 million dollars going into fiscal year 2025 or have to make cuts in that amount.

    The Major thing to realize in the Mayors budget is that it contains a broken promise made in front of hundreds at faith acts to fund education to the tune of an additional $2million per year at an event on November 18th 2019

    Another thing to realize about the budget, especially the pie chart on page 13, is that it is very misleading. This pie chart will have you believe that 39% of Bridgeport taxpayer dollars is going to education. This cannot be further from the truth. The total overall budget proposal of $597, 703,281 contains $164,195,346 state tax dollars that go directly to education. These are not Bridgeport taxpayer dollars. When you remove those dollars and divide the new number the city share to education drops to 15.92% Recalculating all other categories in the pie chart, all of which received increases by the way, the percentages go up.
    Public Safety increases to 42.10% almost triple the Bridgeport tax dollars go to public safety than go to education. Speaking of public safety, that brings us to the next promise made, this one by the city council itself on July 6, 2020 in the wake of the George Floyd protests and the encampment in front of the Bridgeport police department.

    The city council pledged, through a resolution, to redistribute funds from the police department to education and social services. The mayor’s budget not only breaks his promise but expects you all to break yours as well. To add insult to injury Ganim’s budget proposal INCREASES the police budget by $6 million and puts absolutely nothing int education! Is it a coincidence that the Mayor is proposing an increase to the PD in the same amount as the BOE request? This is totally unacceptable in 2021, in the wake of Black Lives Matter, and in the wake of the ongoing COVID crisis that laid bare the financial neglect this city has heaped upon our children. We need to do better. I ask your to keep your promise and the mayors. Reallocate $6 million dollars from wherever you have to, and invest it in our children.

  2. Strange cycle we are in. We’ve got a slow motion train wreck coming and it seems some really don’t actually understand how a budget works.

    We’ve got elected officials complaining about not being thanked for underfunding our budget after adding about 20% of what was needed to keep pace with escalating costs. What do you want a cookie?

    A city councilman also naively stated, if we give a little at a time we will catch up some day. No, math does not work that way. If we need 10 million this year to cover essential escalating costs and we receive 5 million we will have a 5 million dollar deficit to make up for. And the next budget cycle costs will again escalate. In order to “catch up” the entirety of escalating costs must be covered each and every year, or we must cut staff and or services commensurate with the rising costs.

    Our city and its future are truly doomed unless those with the power to fund our schools stop and take the time to read deeper into the budget and stop parroting the company line.

    1. Lol!! “A little at a time”!! That’s how Bridgeport residents have been screwed by these inept, uneducated, and sometime just plain stupid “elected officials.” I’d like to know which member said that!!

  3. Joe So,
    I am not saying council members are thinking about this. It may be just a simple “but Nestor says there’s no money available” but I have heard your argument over and over again.
    We are probably between $100M to $200M in the whole by now.
    Why don’t you try some other arguments or someone representing the board. Testani or whatever the superintendent’s name is the worse possible spokesperson for the board. He is the perfect example of everything that is wrong with the board of Ed. How can the school system be taken seriously if you have some one like him in charge?

    1. As far as your first suggestion the best I could come up with is stating our need in a factual matter especially since I still hear misstatements of facts. This year I have reached out to community groups and presented a breakdown page by page in simple language. I have also emailed it to each and every member of the city council. (I suspect this is why the board was not allowed to speak)

      I would love to hear any additional suggestions
      Anybody has on how to better advocate for our children.

      As far as your second comment, I have no comment and my votes and actions speak for themselves.

  4. Joe
    I would never not allow a member of the public, whether they are on a board or not, not to speak at the public hearing.
    The council even allows council member to speak at the public speaking session.
    Back when I was on the council and the B&A, I would have threatened a public vote if they would not allow board members to speak. So how quickly they changed their minds.

    1. Thank, to be clear I spoke at the public hearing. It was at the committee level two days prior where the board and library presented there needs to the city council B&A. Board members have spoken at 6 out of six meetings going back six years.

  5. Bridgeport has a stagnant (in real terms — housing inflation is actually a negative…) — utterly inadequate — not-so grand list of about $6.4 billion (maybe close to $7 billion with this year’s housing inflation), compared to significantly smaller (population), socioeconomically-robust Stamford (just for a comparison), with a growing grand list of about $22 billion (attributable to “tax-positive” commercial valuations, vs. “tax-negative” housing valuations) and a mill rate of about 27 (compared to Bridgeport’s 54).

    Bridgeport not only has a shrinking grand list/tax base, it has been charging, head-long, into “tax-liability”/municipal-liability territory in terms of ill-conceived municipal “commercial” ventures, such as municipally-owned/financed entertainment venues operating under guarantees of municipally-subsidized operations — ventures entered into even after similarly under-researched, predecessor ventures failed in the context of large losses to Bridgeport tax-payers (e.g., the Blue Fish)… Truly, all of the “new” Bridgeport, “commercial” tax-base growth can be categorized in terms of municipal/tax liability: the PSE&G power-plant (behemoth) occupies extremely valuable waterfront, even as its presence detracts from the value of the surrounding waterfront… And the whole, tax-payer subsidized, tax-deferred, casino-dependent Steel Point development is similarly unable to yield the numbers of desperately-needed local jobs and tax-revenue that might justify its expense and presence on the waterfront….

    Now: the promised 10-mil tax-rate decrease promised to Bridgeport taxpayers, in the context of property-value/reval increases, which would leave taxes essentially flat, isn’t really feasible in terms of Bridgeport’s current, real deficit spending. Truly this tax flat-lining is based on “borrowed” and “stolen” money — “borrowed” from the city’s ever-more-bleak future prospects, and “stolen” from the federal funds meant to help the city and its people and businesses recover from the socioeconomic sledgehammer of the COVID pandemic on Bridgeport (and the rest of the world…).

    It would seem, upon examination of Bridgeport in a socioeconomic context, that Bridgeport is past the point of no return… No real prospects of the kind of tax-base and jobs growth that can arrest our downhill spiral — only plans for use of Bridgeport waterfront/space for essentially tax-less, jobless, tax-payer-liability operations…

    Happy 200th Bridgeport!

    1. Jeff, Bridgeport has been sleepwalking since 1995 looking for that goose to lay that golden egg of a casino.

      “1995 Bridgeport casino players: Two went to jail and one to the White House”

      January 30. 2018 1:58PM | Updated January 30. 2018 6:48PM
      By David Collins Day staff writer

      To understand the dynamics of the way MGM Resorts International is using a bid for a casino in Bridgeport as a smoky decoy, you need to look no further than the failed 1995 bid to build one there.

      The Vegas-based gambling empire is now hoping to distract attention from what legislators in Connecticut should be looking at during their upcoming session: fixing the casino legislation they passed last session, a law, gummed up by aggressive MGM lobbying in Washington, that would create a tribal casino in East Windsor.

      MGM, which is trying to protect its new Springfield, Mass., casino from one in northern Connecticut, has no real interest in Bridgeport.

      They told investors as much recently, saying Springfield would be their last casino in the United States.

      It’s not like they don’t know how impossible it would be to get approval for one in Bridgeport.

      Indeed, the 1995 attempt to build a casino on the Bridgeport waterfront ended in a rout, with the Connecticut Senate voting down the plan 24 to 10.

      The idea was incredibly unpopular in Fairfield County, everywhere outside Bridgeport. Even today’s governor, Dannel Malloy, then mayor of Stamford, was against it. Attorney General George Jepsen, then a state senator representing Darien and Stamford, was against it, too.

      People who live in the perpetual traffic gridlock that is Fairfield County want nothing to do with anything that is going to bring more people and traffic. A casino is also not the kind of cultural landmark most people in that part of the state would welcome.

      That is still the toxic political environment for anyone proposing a casino in Bridgeport today. The logistical problem, too, of voiding the tribal/state agreement that provides hundreds of millions from reservation slot machines, still exists today.

      Maybe most important, the business prospects for a Bridgeport casino are much worse today, given the opening of a second casino in Connecticut and many more in Pennsylvania and New York in the decades since.

      A Fairfield County casino hardly would be the home run it seemed like it could be in 1995, with nearby New Yorkers then starved of other options outside Atlantic City.

      It was fear for his Atlantic City casinos that first brought Donald Trump to the Bridgeport table in the 1990s, hooking up with then Mayor Joe Ganim as his local political muscle, as he proposed a theme park that might morph into a casino.

      Then Gov. John Rowland was also a big proponent of building a casino in Bridgeport. The winners were the Mashantucket Pequots, who beat out Steve Wynn, then heading Vegas-based Mirage Resorts, as the state-chosen prospective developer.

      A look at where they all are today provides a little more explanation about why the Fairfield County establishment did not then, and would not now, welcome a casino.

      After all, the two politicians most associated with the Bridgeport casino planning, Rowland and Ganim, later went to jail for taking favors.

      And Wynn, a titan of Las Vegas and one of the principal bidders in Bridgeport in 1995, is now starring in a raging national scandal, accused of years of sexual harassment and assault.

  6. What Jeff Kohut calls the point of no return, I call the turning point. The bottom’s been reached. Bridgeport’s cost structure is what’s out of whack. Taco Bell considers Bridgeport a high cost market!
    But Bridgeport is nirvana to those seeking escape from the city. I see a growing Grand List as out of state landlords sell property to grateful buyers. It’s the kind of transfer Bridgeport needs.
    Bridgeport is getting the aura needed to replace its stigma.
    For history buffs, 1965 was the year America started peacetime deficit spending which started the decline of Bridgeport’s industrial base and the stuff Jeff Kohut talks about.


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