City Council Lowers Tax Rate, Nieves Castigates Disengaged Budget Loafers

The City Council, as expected Monday night, approved a $598 million budget that includes a reduction in the tax rate by 10.5 mils, money for 60 new cops and $2 million extra for schools, plus another $535,000 to upgrade its transportation system. Mayor Joe Ganim announced he will sign the spending plan without a veto for the fiscal year starting July 1.

The council dropped the tax rate from 54 to 43.45 mils.

The majority of homeowners in Black Rock, Brooklawn and the North End are expected to see a reduction or flattening of taxes, a reversal in fortune from five years ago, the last revaluation of taxable property required by state law.

Condo units and multi-family dwellings could be outliers in some neighborhoods based on the respective assessments.

Budget co-chair Ernie Newton, who represents the East End, emphasized increased property values among his constituency is a long time coming buoyed by renovations, purchase interest and renewed development along the Stratford Avenue corridor. If they pay more it’s because their investment is worth more, he said.

A positive sign for high-taxed Black Rock: both of its representatives Scott Burns (co-chair) and certified public accountant Matthew McCarthy, who sit on the budget committee, voted for the spending plan that will benefit homeowners. Phew! They have a loud constituency.

Upper East Side Councilwoman Maria Pereira asserted the tax rate could have been slashed by another three mils citing her concern for assessment increases impacting parts of her constituency.

Newton dropped in a no-so-subtle jab at Pereira maintaining some people here complain about high taxes when they don’t pay any.

The final vote was 14-6 with Pereira, Samia Suliman, Michelle Lyons, AmyMarie Vizzo-Paniccia, Alfredo Castillo and Michael DeFilippo voting no.

Why the no votes?

North Enders Lyons and Vizzo-Paniccia have a history of voting no on budget matters parsing small numbers. If you don’t include this job, or strike that one out, I’m out. It’s what they do. To them little things mean a lot to them.

DeFilippo has engaged in a unique embrace of Pereira’s establishment counterculture thinking it will help his political future, except he’s the Pereira no vote without the Pereira persona. She puts the work in to craft opposition arguments while he drops in verbal bombs, followed by (how will Maria vote?) me too.

Castillo has become something of a council pariah after members rejected his ploy to wire a public takeover of the private University of Bridgeport on behalf of a non-profit board he sits on, Bridgeport Labs.

Sulking is the descriptive word they cite of late, reflected in his recent no votes against colleagues he had voted with.

After business was completed, in a final parry Council President Aidee Nieves launched into a blistering condemnation of council members who she said contributed nothing to the budget process then turned the final vote into a “mockery,” remarks clearly directed at DeFilippo and Castillo.

“This meeting is disgusting,” she railed to close out the Zoom conference praising her hard-working colleagues while castigating verbal disruptions with Pereira on her mind, but not by name.

Ganim’s perfunctory about chairing the meetings, often apologizing for slippage on parliamentary procedure, citing the technological challenges of the Zoom platform. Somewhere in there twists a wry smile.

When Pereira speaks voluminously Ganim says mockingly, “Maria, can I run the meeting?” Then there’s the option to shut off her microphone. Pereira does not command City Council meetings as she did in the closed quarters of the nine-member Board of Education. Difficult among 19 other colleagues and when the mic can be silenced.

This is an election year for City Council members with opportunities for opponents to spin the no votes as a vote against a tax cut, depending on areas influenced by the revaluation. This could play well in the North End, for instance, where three of the four council representatives voted against reducing the tax rate by 10.5 mils. Now the flip side to that is we wanted to cut it more.

That argument won’t play as well against Pereira who will systematically scour constituent tax bills to craft arguments for and against the budget. For instance, Pereira did not vote against the revenue increases of the budget committee that had to be approved in a separate vote by the full council. She’s skilled at the nuances of campaigning and dedicates full time to the task while others don’t have that luxury.



  1. At least some on the city council make changes to the mayors budget. Like the board that is one of the major charges, approving the budget. I find the board lacking in this aspect of our duties.

    When I suggest changes to the proposed budget I get told that it is not our place by the chair, and can’t even get a consensus to change anything. I get it, if you suggest a change and override a portion of the budget, you own that change. Responsibility is scawy for some.

  2. I think Hearst Media (CTPost) should offer Maria Pereira a weekly column concerning Bridgeport.
    Because when the mayor of Bridgeport asks you to shorten your speech, you’ve shown command of the council chambers and that’s exactly what their readers want.

  3. Hearst Media (CTPost) is not a Bridgeport newspaper, the name tells you that, the Connecticut Post, not the Bridgeport Post, it’s a statewide newspaper.Maria Pereira has no value to the Hearst Media with a statewide paper. All of these supporters of Maria Pereira need to put their money together for her to have a podcast.

  4. Hmmmmm, no Bridgeport, Joe Ganim and Mario Testa have no pull.

    “Rosa’s List: How DC Pull Might Help City”
    by STAFF | May 4, 2021 4:24 pm
    That gatekeeper is New Haven U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro.

    DeLauro ascended this year to the powerful chair of the House of Representatives’ Appropriations Committee. The expectation here at home was that her new role could mean more federal aid to the city.

    DeLauro has now listed the specifics of what that increased aid could look like in coming months for local projects. (She already had a victory in an 18-year quest to expand the federal child tax credit.)

    One of DeLauro’s first major moves as committee chair was to oversee the resumption of “earmarks” in the appropriation process: specific requests members of Congress make for funding for projects in their district when major bills are under consideration. DeLauro instituted new rules for earmarks to address concerns about how members abused the process in the past, funneling money secretly to boondoggles or projects in which they may have personal stakes.

    She also gave earmarks an official name: “community projects.”

    Members of Congress get to submit up to 10 “community projects”/ earmarks. DeLauro has released a personal list of 10 requests for the Third U.S. Congressional District. Three would be for New Haven: To support the proposed Community Crisis Response Team for emergency calls that might benefit from someone other than a cop showing up; a joint New Haven Public Schools-Gateway Community College manufacturing engineering program; and rebuilding rec facilities at St. Martin de Porres Academy.

    The 10 requests overall can serve as a scorecard in coming months for how New Haven’s increased influence in Congress translates into federal aid.

    City of New Haven
    This project will provide funding for the implementation of the New Haven Community Crisis Response Team. This mobile crisis team program will be integrated into the existing 911 and non-emergency dispatch system and the human services network within the region.

    New Haven Public Schools
    This project will provide funding for New Haven Public Schools to introduce and implement a manufacturing program through a partnership with local universities and community colleges and industry leaders to fill the entry level technical positions in the manufacturing sector. The program will give students a unique opportunity to earn an industry-recognized, two-year associate’s degree in Manufacturing Engineering Technology from Gateway Community College, along with their high school diploma within a six-year experience.

    Here are the other projects: St. Martin de Porres Academ Sterling House Community Center, City of Ansonia, City of Middletown, Town of Branford, Town of Durham, Town of North Branford, Wallingford Housing Authority.

  5. I loved Aidee’s comment that they “need to pray” and consider what their point and purpose of their council seats are.
    They “need to pray”?
    I think Aidee is the one who should seek Devine intervention. She gives the children of Bridgeport chump change for an increase in funding and suggests they should be happy.
    Why doesn’t she pray and consider what the purpose of a Council President is if all the council is doing is rearranging the chairs on the Titanic.

    1. Divine intervention is the involvement (intervention) of a deity (divine) in the affairs of humans. Its form can de direct, such as the actual visual or auditory manifestation of a deity to humans, and indirect, such as a deity’s influence on weather. But it has nothing to do with politics,

      I’ve got a Bridgeport-themed website,
      you don’t even have a Bridgeport-themed T-shirt.

  6. Greetings neighbors, just a few observations from 30,000 feet, with many moving parts in view below, as OIB proprietor/publicist/ editor fails to see the printed results of creating a three minute address to the City Council public address session worthy of being a regular subject. His righteous decision!! Time will tell.

    CC Meeting- City Finances May 3, 2021 (John Marshall Lee 203-259-9642)
    Good evening Council members. Thank you to those of you who have attempted to get your minds around the major issues swirling in Bridgeport….corrupted Police and Personnel Department leaders ready for sentences to be carried out as consequences to pleadings in face of Federal investigations…..unsettled and court contested leadership of the Police Department when Mayoral appointment fails to follow City format…….COVID responses not uniform, but where is Health Department leadership?……..Federal and State funds larger than usual but how do they fit with what local taxpayers face this year in an efficient and effective manner (explained in detail by management?)……..comments from some elected by City taxpayers that not all City employees are either qualified as to task, trained to improve, reviewed regularly by supervisors, or otherwise held responsible for their duties, or their hours, yet continue to receive health and retirement benefits above market rate……And the City claims that PD budget increases are necessary while BOE starves relatively speaking, and City Hall includes “educational cost sharing” payments from the State of CT as “local taxpayer” funding when making erroneous comparisons……and Finance continues to budget Revenues in recent years for IN=Plant printing from sources outside City Hall to $10,000 reducing over several years to $500 in the current 20-21 year but enters only 000,s where dollars belong. Where does such funding flow daily or weekly? Appear in Council reviewed data available to taxpayers? And why does Finance also continues to ignore reporting some $800,000 of parent funding for Lighthouse annually or in the monthly revenue reports you receive, while the long time Youth Services Director tells the State of Connecticut about that funding in her reports to them? Perhaps a zero-based budget approach to review of a City Table of Organization will hold an answer to why a City restauranteur active in local politics is the last word in employment appointments where quality of experience and integrity is less important than interest in political support? Questions are raised regularly. Answers for these are ever in short supply. Whom do you trust? What happens when leaders decline to lead, but still make decisions in their darkness, according to no statement of priorities? And School Capital projects with significant State funding change direction and cost at the last moment, in the face of significant climate change challenges, with no details provided and multiple interest conflicts at risk? Time will tell

      1. Actually, Ron, I have shared these comments with Scott and Matt in person and received feedback from them on some of them. Something you avoid regularly, unfortunately. Other Council members ignore the questions and fail to understand the larger picture of poor governance that the indicated issues give continuing evidence of. Now I realize that neither of us has the Charter power that the Council20 possess. And I realize that “uncomfortable conversations” can occur over many subjects, but I still look forward to engaging you over coffee in the future because of your knowledge and experience. Let me know if you have had a change of posture, please. Time will tell.


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