Booking Time On The Budget

Library officials Friday night threw the book at Mayor Bill Finch’s proposed laceration of a city department that serves ordinary folks during good times and bad, urging the City Council’s Budget and Appropriations committee to restore the money necessary to maintain standing as one of the finest public library systems in the state.

Library Board member Tom Errichetti kindly shared some observations with OIB following the presentation that he and City Librarian Scott Hughes made to the budget committee at city hall.

“We expressed our concern that the proposed cut would most likely result in closing all branches and maintaining service only at Burroughs (the main library downtown) – and that there may be staffing issues there from time to time. We estimate it takes 20 persons to staff all 4 branches,” including Black Rock that has been closed for renovations.

“We also stated that the proposed cuts would hinder our ability to seek other outside contributions to augment the library collection – if people feel their donation will be squandered by irregular service or no service.”

Bob Curwen, co-chair of the budget committee, is sympathetic to the library plight. There is a movement afoot both politically and governmentally to find ways to restore library funding and reverse potential library layoffs. Finch’s proposed library budget slashes funding by more than $1 million from the current budget year and along with it staffing levels by one third.

There’s a growing sense within the city council and political community that Finch has taken an obtuse posture toward deal making to save the library and health care jobs his budget proposes to cut. The council’s independent viewpoint was cemented Monday night in the aftermath of the rage directed at Finch during the public hearing on the budget. Council members are looking at other departments to achieve savings through smaller, across the board cuts, and consolidation of services. One of the departments being looked at to consolidate under the chief administrative officer is the Bridgeport Port Authority that is charged with facilitating development opportunities and generating fees associated with the city’s port.

Just what the council will do independent of the mayor is unclear. The budget committee will go through a series of informational meetings with various city departments before voting preliminarily on the budget. The budget will go back to Finch the week of May 5 for action. The mayor has strong veto power over the budget. The council needs two thirds to override a mayoral veto.

Lurking in the background is Democratic Town Chairman Mario Testa who has a lot of experience working city budgets. Testa served for many years on the city’s Board of Apportionment and Taxation, the body that had budget-making juice before that authority was transferred to the city council about 20 years ago.

Right now the mayor does not appear to be in a schmoozing mood with the council. We’ll see what happens when the council returns the budget to him.



  1. Instead of using a scalpel cutting the Library and SBHC’s.
    The Mayor should consider calling a Tree Surgeon and use a chainsaw to get rid of some “Dead” Wood in his office.

  2. Mr. Kelly,
    I sure hope that you include Sure-wood amongst the trees to be trimmed! Of course, the contract will go out to the politically connected North East Trees and probably not enough wood would be lopped off.
    Perhaps a sharply honed sickle will do the trick and it would be far more environmentally friendly than a chain saw.

  3. “Let me make this perfectly clear….” Nixon
    “Let me say this about that” Kennedy
    “Uh, err, oops, duh, Hey there, Putin!! How they hangin?” Bush
    “I promised a $600 tax reduction to the tax payers of Bridgeport. I didn’t promise that my administration would deliver it” Moonbeam.

    Great political statements.

    Another political statement we seem to have forgotten came from Chris Caruso during the primary. He emphatically called for complete audits of all operational departments in city hall especially the BOE. Had he been elected, such measures would have already been underway leading to recommendations that would surely save great deals of resources. He wasn’t planning on conducting these audits to look for corruption. He realized that this town has been run by some really unintelligent people for that past many years. Even if they wanted to, they simply did not have the intellectual capacity to envision proper procedure and formulate an implementation plan. These stunods have ruined any semblance of orderly effective and efficient municipal management. Frankly, this new bunch makes the last bunch look like they knew what they were doing.

    I want an audit and I want it now!!!

  4. If I don’t pay my taxes there will be an auction sign on my front lawn. It would be much sooner than four years. Get that $11 million from DiNardo or sell his property now!

  5. Lennie,
    As to some insoght from last night’s meeting, the biggest surprise at the B & A Committee meeting last night was when Tom Errichetti produced the following section from the Bridgeport Code of Ordinances.

    2.112.060 Library fund tax.
    To provide for the expenses of the maintenance of the city’s public library and reading room, a tax of two and thirty-three hundredths (2.33) mills shall be levied and collected in the same manner as other city taxes and shall be known as the library fund. (Ord. dated 5/21/90: prior code § 18-6)

    This was followed by a Jackie Gleason hmina, hmina, hmina moment as City Hall staffers tired to digest this information. Then quickly copies were made for all council members and library supporters were assured that “we’ll look into this.”
    If adhered to, this would double or triple the library budget.
    You have to hand it to those librarians; they sure know how to do their research.
    I assured anyone who asked me that I am confident that the City Attorney’s Office will issue another one of their “it’s OK to break city ordinances” legal opinions. But this little twist does bear watching.

  6. Does anyone know if we the taxpayers, or for that matter we the residents of Bpt. have any recourse or appeal to some higher power like the State or Federal goverment in an effort to correct the abuses of our elected office in such matters as Sal’s tax excuse, the falure to follow our own library tax code, which is part of a law, etc. The list goes on. I have a friend who has been a Bpt. resident for over 50 years and has just thrown in the towel due to tax rates. Give us a break like you give a 12 million tax break to Sal.

  7. Great that there is a city ordinance but I think that doubling or tripling the library budget is just as out of line as cutting the library.
    As far as ordinances go they were made and they can be changed.I suspect that this ordinance will be revised.
    Look every Department should take a hit when the city is in trouble.
    Lets do the following;
    1. Dissolve the WPCA and save $1,000,000. Put that contract out to bid and get rid or archaic work rules. We will gain money from privatizing this office>

    2. Do away with the Port Authority save a $1,000,000 and put office under CAO

    3. Privatize the children clinics by putting it out to bid city will receive money for this. Time to get out of the health care business.

    4. Keep the school nurses as they should be in the schools.

    4. get private business to fund an audit of the BOE
    i know there is fat in the Police Department as well as the Fire department> The same with Public facilities.

    There are ways to do this but Finch and who ever the morons are that are advising him do not want to work with anyone else and it seems its my way or the highway with Finch and his people.
    Amessage for Finch the votes are there to override your veto check the numbers dumb ass or you will end up like you did with the Stafstrom Vote


  8. Yahooy,

    If you can convince the Mayor to conduct an operational audit of the BOE, I’ll volunteer to Chair or Co-Chair that effort!

    A few conditions might need to be met, but the results and recommendations will be honest, objective, practical and actionable. And “outside eyes” are always more effective in penetrating the bureaucratic haze that accumulates in organizations over the years.

    So start sweet talking your friends in the Mayor’s office and see if you get a reaction. Maybe Anna and Wondering can give you some help.

  9. Grin Reaper,

    Your environmentally correct solution to some “Dead” Wood in city hall gave me mulch to think about. Throw them all into the compost pile. Then you could change your handle to the “Green Reaper”.


    Once again you are “spot on” in your critical thinkng skills and problem solving ability. Expand the operational audit to make it citywide, where duplcity of labor and a that’s not my job mentality hurts city. For instance there are positions in the city that have a 3 hour window of activity. An operational audit could identify those positions and cross-train those employees to work in other areas to maximize performance and cut labor costs. There are many good city employees also being led by poor managers. All business models have an acceptable cost of goods and labor factored in their pro-formas. Bridgeport’s costs are going through the roof.

    Finally, besides cost cutting, we need to increase sales. We should offer our neighboring land-locked towns a reasonable special rate for park permits. It could be done easily with an e-commerce platform and mail the permits out with handling charge. This would increase revenues and become an economic engine for Bridgeport for people to come and spend their money in the “Park City”. In the grand scheme I know this is a pittance but at least it is something.

  10. There are two basic imperatives for any business turnaround: cut costs… AND… grow revenues. Successful turnarounds strike a dynamic balance between the two; never overemphasizing one or completely ignoring the other.

    Bridgeport’s leaders haven’t quite figured this out. Cutting costs gets you only half way to the solution. As Tom Kelly says, Bridgeport needs income (sales/revenue) as much as it needs rationalized budgets. We’re almost six months into this “new” administration and we still don’t have an Economic Development Director, the focal point for growth and new revenue initiatives. Without growth, mill rates rise and taxpayers get squeezed till they bleed or flee.

    City Hall needs to start working both sides of this equation. Cutting costs is NOT the solution. Cutting costs…AND growing revenues is!

    Let’s hope someone in city hall gets the message. cut costs…AND…grow revenues!

  11. What I don’t understand with Finch and his administration is this idea that they are the only ones that are right and they will do this with out any help. Olive branches have been offered by members of the town committee and its leadership, Along with these olive branches have been offers of help to get past this defecit and get the city moving forward. All of these efforts have been rejected. Offers of free help have been offered by Bruce Hubler and others and they has been rejected.
    It seems that Finch and company are intent that there way is the only way and they do not need any help or suggestions. Lets look at who is advising Finch from a public point of view. Tyrone, Rubin, Andy Nunn and Adam Wood. To date they have combined to produce an aura of fear and anger and have not accomplished a damn thing,
    In the back ground I see Paul Timpanelli and the mayors hand picked group led by Joe Magee (SP). If they are advising him on this buget and its cuts then they are 100% wrong and should back off.
    I am calling for Bill Finch to take a step back and get off his high horse and get help and suggestions from all areas in the city. Its time for the council to step up and tell the mayor that they will be taking a very active role in this budget and he needs to pay attention. Are you reading this Mr. McCarthy? Mr. McCarthy stop wringing your hands and start being a leader.
    Its time for the mayor to meet with Mario Testa and other Democratic leaders. Its time for more ideas and action than you and your staff have offered to date.
    Mr. Finch you seem to think that you are in this by yourself. i have news for you every tax payer in the city is involved in this because we are the ones that are going to pay the final bill.
    Finally lets get an Economice person on board. What the hell is taking so long. Do you want the answer well here it is TYRONE and you inner circle. You put him in charge of commissions and the like and this young man has no clue on what to do. We have gone 4 monthe with no Economic Development Director and No Public Facilities Director. We have named not one new commissioner or board member. Your administration is running in place and making enemies in the process. Your administration is fostering fear and pessimism. Lets GO get MOVING and change you tactics or change your staff as they are failing you miserably.

  12. Bruce

    I have a better chance at convincing Moonbeam to move to Kalamazoo.

    As you know audits are great tools to ensure the stability of an entity whether it be in commerce or in municipal management.

    The SEC mandates a general independent audit of all publicly held corporations. The auditor examines the books and provides an opinion. Basically, a clear opinion will state that the books fairly represent the financial condition of the corporation. From this opinion investors or stockholders base their confidence and financial institutions determine the extent to which risk is acceptable.

    The operative concept herein is the MANDATE by the SEC.

    The City of Bridgeport appears to be under no obligation to perform any form of audit. This is puzzling inasmuch as the city is heavily bonded. As we all are painfully aware, the city’s bond counsel is Pullman Comely, of which John Stafstrom is a partner. A properly conducted audit would result in an audit note suggesting as to the appropriateness of such apparent conflict of interest. Accordingly, without a mandate of audit, the administration would not put themselves into a position that could reveal such potential for controversy. I’m sure Pullman Comely is quite capable of managing our bonding affairs. However, Stafstroms political antics makes me wonder we citizens can depend on that firm’s independence on matters that affect our finances.

    Bruce, this ad nauseum post is in response to your suggestion that I convince Finch to order an operational audit on the BOE. Finch is not going to order any form of audit. We would be indeed lucky if we could so much as to get him to reconcile the petty cash box in his secretary’s desk. Finch is not interested in returning the city to orderly effective and economically efficient management. He hasn’t got the foggiest idea how to even begin such a task. Nor does he have anyone on his staff who could do so. His political agenda is paramount in his mind. That’s all he knows how to do and he is not doing that very well either. We got stuck with a bum because of voter apathy.

    There is no mandate to require an audit nor is there a mandate to implement identified corrective measures.

    We need to elect a mayor who understands that this city is in such a mess that the only way we can get out of it is to hire an independent auditor and act upon that auditor’s recommendation.

    I was betting on Caruso. He surely would have gone in that direction. Now I’m betting on you. I KNOW you’ll bring us there. In the interim we need to lobby city council members and persuade them to put the pressure on the current administration to identify ineffective procedures and practices and change them. Simple?

  13. We should get Tom Errichetti involved in this “Let’s do an audit” deal. Tom was a hell of an auditor and tax guy at Price Waterhouse in the old days. I wonder if we could gather a bunch of local PW or PWC alums to put together a feasible audit plan?

  14. “In the back ground I see Paul Timpanelli and the mayors hand picked group led by Joe Magee (SP). If they are advising him on this buget and its cuts then they are 100% wrong and should back off.”


    I’d think Joe McGee has better things to do than tinker with Bridgeport’s budget. I heard the Mayor for the most part ignored what his economic development committee recommended…especially the “grow revenue” portion Hubler is talking about.

    I doubt he had any part in the rest of this nonsense.

  15. Bruce,
    If you recall Elaine Pivirotto, Donna Curran and myself last year foresaw many of the problems that are now publicly coming to light and proposed the formation of a Citizens’ Based Financial Review Committee. We were willing to recognize the fact that neither the council nor the administration had all of the answers to the problems that the city faces and we were willing to glean from qualified, apolitical members of the public their business acumen to develop new ways of doing things in the city.
    I will be the first to admit that the city is not a business and can not be operated solely on what is best for the bottom line, but if we were to reach out to a group of people like this, hopefully they could help find some solutions or at least become the impetus of changing some of the ways that the city does business. And even if some of the ideas were rejected, hopefully they would become the framework for defining ways to better deliver services in the city. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
    But that proposal was soundly defeated by the council. If people thing that in light of this latest financial crisis the council might be more amenable to this idea, I would be happy to put forth the ordinance again. I am not one who will allow the prospect of defeat to deter what I think is a good idea.
    Any feed back from other OIB bloggers?

  16. No, Bob Walsh. A Citizen’s Review Committee” won’t cut it. What ever influence you have on that council, start gathering up the folks you’ll need to FORCE a certified audit which will undoubtedly reveal the need for an Operational Review and even perhaps a forensic examination. The Birdman has got to buy into this prospect FOR THE GOOD OF THE CITY. Last night, a bunch of prominent attorneys (Mostly Democrats) were suggesting that Finch needs to be sued. If that is the only step he will understand to get him to focus on the problems we have in city hall then it will be worth the expense. There is a rapid growing level of no confidence in Finch personally even from sum of his own supporters. 12 1/2 % of Moonbeams tenure has gone by and he has accomplished nothing. He has initiated nothing. All he is known for at this stage is his failed attempt at getting Stafstom & Co. back into power in the DTC. We cannot allow this incompetent fool to do nothing for four years except further destroy the DTC credibility (if that is possible). We are in serious trouble and it is getting worse. We desperately need an independent objective examination of all of our municipal operations. There is significant cost savings to be identified by such an effort. Spoken like a true Democrat, but you are wrong. A municipality CAN be run on what is best for the bottom line. Unless you truly believe that the goal of effective and efficient municipal management can be obatined, then you should resign your post.

  17. I don’t think Tyrone or Ruben is advising anyone. Wood is calling the shots; Tyrone is just an arrogant jerk in training. Wood is a micromanager, who’s obsessive need to control everything prevents anyone else from being effective, if they were even capable in the first place. Rina Bakalar left, and I hear Michele Mount, the legislative person is leaving to. There are no women left to even give their perspective. How many more good people will leave? When will Finch wake up and listen to someone else beside Wood? Arrogant leaders that govern through vengeful, backroom politics are doomed to repeat their failures at best and alienate anyone not on board with their ideas. Look at Bush, Nixon, Karl Rove, and in the extreme Hitler and Nero. They are all examples what happens when you think you are right even when you are proven wrong. Thoreau said, “A foolish consistency is the hob goblin of little minds.” A more modern cliché is the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over and expecting different results.

    Meanwhile, Finch is looking like he is fiddling while Bridgeport burns. How much will the Mayor’s Ball cost? How much do they spend on unnecessary conferences and trips? Why did he cut all the union jobs of the union he didn’t support? Again, more vengeful politics. He didn’t even show to face the “music” at City Hall. He probably can’t look health care workers in the eye as one of his big concerns used to be health care for children when he was a Senator. Fabrizi maybe had a lot flaws but he least understood the value of a good mea culpa. It is time to look elsewhere for help Mayor Finch. Let’s add up the bad advise so far, $600 property tax cut promise, keeping the Senate seat, hiring an inexperienced staff when you didn’t have a clue as how to run a city, hiring some many so called “experts” that you didn’t know which end was up, losing a political battle you shouldn’t have fought, turning the city council and most of the DTC against you. What is it that Finch has done right?

    Besides being wrong, the budget cuts you made were the worst possible PR move. Especially when it was all to clear you didn’t have a plan to deal with the aftermath. Full speed ahead, damns the consequences. You’d think, as a supposed political whiz would be able to least make an attempt at looking cooperative and not cowardly. He has turned to be the boy blunder, to the birdman. You will never be able to govern by being a steam roller. Wasn’t in Finch who was going to be a consensus builder.

    I hope you sincerely learn how to plan and I would develop one because in three and 1/2 years you’ll be looking for a job. Bridgeport Mayor is a dead end job, just look at the Mayors from the last 20 or more years. And while you’re bending down kissing your own rear end goodbye, kiss Wood’s too, because the architect of your demise is washed up politically.

  18. Charlie Brown; I said that of Timpanelli because I know he holds sway over the mayor. McGee was my opinion simply because he was the mayors handpicked leader of the economic committee. if i am wrong on McGee Mea Culpa.
    Adam Wood is leading this this mayor around by the nose and he is an arrogant jerk. When they lost the DTC fight he was fit to be tied and red faced. that loss should have shown the mayor that he needs to evaluate the trust he put in Wood. That loss should have warned Finch that Wood doesnt know squat about Bpt politics.
    Michele Mount is leaving at the end of the session. She has been cut out of the loop by Wood and Finch.

  19. I don’t know Michelle Mount personally, but I hear she’s bright and politically savvy. Thats a shame to lose her. I also heard that the mayor is definitely going to do a BOE audit, which is long overdue. Lets hope its soon before they eat another huge hole in the budget. I don’t know anything about McGee, can somebody fill me in on him?

  20. So what does everyone think of Jim Himes, seems like a pretty sharp guy. Hope he manages to beat Shays, who should take a 21st trip to Iraq and maybe stay there. Is he spending our tax dollars on those uselessd trips? I’m really sick of him coming back home and telling us how well things are going over there. Our troops are getting killed and he thinks thats progress? Nothing like kissing up to Bush. He needs to be replaced, maybe Himes will be the one to do it after the two failed attempts by Farrell. What does everyone think?

  21. I like Himes. His background is diverse and he can address the needs of the Cities and the suburbs in his district. Shays has lost touch. His association with McCain and Liberman and his relentless backing of the Iraq war shows that he is just another Bush kisser. He isn’t bringing anything to Bridgeport this year, or anywhere else. We need change everywhere. I think Himes is a straight shooter and is really concerned with helping the neglected cities. Where is any federal help with education? The feds certainly don’t mind giving the states mandates, but where are they with the assistance. Oh yes, the assistance is over in Iraq where our brave troops are being sacrificed and billions of dollars are sinking in quick sand.

  22. Was’nt it Stafstrom that ran Farrell’s campaign in Bridgeport? She was a snobby rich country-club Westporter, in my opinion. How could she relate to the urban cities? She was born with a silver spoon in her mouth. I think Himes is down to earth and more in touch with our needs. Shays has lost touch with his sanity, he just has to go. If he thinks things are going so well in Iraq, maybe he should relocate and take Bush with him.

  23. Yeah…leave it to the Democratic Party to tell Bridgeporters a Westporter is best for them. Adam Wood is a miserable campaign manager who has lost just about every race he comes near. Finch was a slam dunk even though he is an abject moron. Himes will fare no better because Maura Keaney is almost as bad as Adam Wood. Maybe they should hire the world’s biggest liar to run Himes’ campaign. God knows Caruso can’t get by with just his nonprofit shakedown money.

    Why not run Finch again for the seat (the World’s Second Biggest Liar.) His popularity rating must be way up there right now.

    I betcha Fabrizi post-child molester had better approval ratings than Finch does right now. He’s traded in the kitchen cabinet for Adam Wood and lost every intelligent seasoned staff person around him.

    That Pettway guy would have been a better Mayor. I demand a recount of the write-in ballots!


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