City Council To Receive Budget, Interim School Chief ‘Shocked’ By Mayor’s School Funding

Mayor Bill Finch’s proposed $522,966,587 budget will be officially submitted to the City Council tonight (Monday). The spending plan that calls for a hike of just under one mil representing a roughly $120 tax increase on the average city homeowner will be referred to the Budget and Appropriations Committee co-chaired by Sue Brannelly and Mike Marella.

The nuts and bolts work on the budget is conducted at the committee level. The budget committee will spend the next two months reviewing the mayor’s proposal for the budget year beginning July 1. See full council agenda here. Last year the budget committee made some adjustments to the mayor’s spending proposal that lessened the tax impact. See here.

Interim Superintendent of Schools Fran Rabinowitz claims the mayor’s budget does not meet the state’s minimum budget requirement. The mayor says it does. CT Post reporter Linda Conner Lambeck has more:

On the budget, Interim Schools Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz said she was deeply concerned and “just shocked” by Mayor Bill Finch’s proposed 2014-15 budget, which proposes to unilaterally move $8.2 million worth of services, previously paid for by the city, to the school board side of the ledger, while declaring that the city’s mandated Minimum Budget Requirement has been met.

“It’s incredibly outrageous,” Rabinowitz said. “It’s like a game of checkers.”

Full story here.



  1. Lennie, “The nuts and bolts work on the budget is conducted at the committee level.” Please. Is ‘nuts and bolts’ an expression for free meals at taxpayer expense?

    Last year the only change they made was to increase the amount of concessions expected from unionized employees.

    Are they prepared to reduce expenses to avoid a tax increase by eliminating positions or entire ‘departments?’

    Given most unnecessary positions and departments are filled and staffed by Democratic party operatives, not likely.

    Does anyone remember when the city council reduced its stipend by 50% to reflect its participation in reducing the budget? I do. It saved $5,000. Today, 50% is $90,000.

  2. Lennie, what planet do you live on? This council is made up of mostly the same idiots who have voted for past budgets with no cuts attached. This past year they passed the mayor’s office budget without ever seeing it. Two years in a row this council passed budgets that had ghost positions in them, for those who don’t know, ghost positions are positions that will not be filled but money is budgeted for those positions thus creating a fund for the administration to spend as they want. They did the same with Federal police and fire positions they put in the salary account for each department even though the Feds put up the money.
    Tom White is correct, other than increase givebacks from the unions the council cut nothing from the last budget. Lennie, tell me what they cut.
    BTW Finch and his budget people have shortchanged their obligation to education for the past two years.

    1. Andrew C Fardy, as you suggest, there are real big savings in the fire and police departments by eliminating the deputy chief positions in both departments.

      1. Maybe just lower the number of deputies. Seems to me there are too many of the good old boys clogging up the system. Both departments should have a mandatory retirement age.

  3. Lennie, many of the items you show are contract items that are not open to B & A cuts. What was done was numbers for these contracted items were inflated and then cut back to the contracted amount, this is also known as smoke and mirrors.
    Lennie, you are quick to point out what you perceive as cuts, please tell me about Federally paid-for positions that were purposely put in the salary requests for both police and fire and noting was said or done about it.
    The council did not make the cuts you suggest, they voted on what Sherwood and the mayor put in front of them. I bet you a dinner at any restaurant the council does not know what alleged cuts they made.

    1. They made cuts to the Police Department. They made cuts to Public Facilities and City Attorney’s Office including outside legal counsel. It’s clearly stated in the budget document. The budget committee lessened the tax impact. If you want to argue the budget was padded intentionally for the council to make cuts, so be it. But they made cuts. The budget alterations also included roughly $95,000 in givebacks from unaffiliated employees that include mayoral appointees.

  4. Lennie, the changes that were made to the PD were contract changes, in other words the money in the mayor’s budget was more than the contracted amount thus the change, the same goes for the FD. Most of the changes in public facilities were contracted changes that were overbudgeted.

  5. Lennie, the cuts you credit to the city council were recommendations of the budget director and with (apparently) support from the administration.

    If you are saying a cut is a cut, regardless of how it came about, okay. If, because the city council as a body voted to approve the cuts, therefore, the city council made the cuts, then that is okay too.

    When you reply to posters to clarify something, it is appreciated.

    When you reply to posters to express your opinion, it often improves the back-and-forth nature of blogs.

    In this case, you are implying the city council’s legislative action (showing up and voting yes) reflects independent action initiated by the city council members.

    Those of us who have observed or been involved in the process while McCarthy has been council president know this is not the case.

  6. What unifies us as a community? Support of leaders with integrity? The desire to receive straight talk with OATs from City Hall? Rooting for an underdog UCONN men’s b-ball team improbably meeting in the NCAA Div 1 championship tonight?

    Several of those items might unify OIB readers. And if I mentioned efficient and effective sharing of resources to educate the 20,000 school-age children, that too might unite many of us (even though we may differ on specifics). However, what the Mayor has done for two or three years now is to play with the BOE budget balancing task (that assumes State mandated MBR). Last year he did not fund the education budget in his initial recommendation although Tom Sherwood knew the requirement and had specific State warnings weeks before the 2014 budget became public.
    This year Mayor Finch and OPM director Sherwood also knew the State requirement for 2015 because agreement acknowledgment of it was included in a response to the terms of 2014.

    What did this class fiscal team do? Do you think they went into deliberations with the exiting Super or the Public Schools Finance Officer Marlene Siegel from January forward? No sign of that. This entire concept of transferring fixed costs to BOE was share about a week ago as he leaked the tax rate increase. When you take an in-depth look at what is being proposed, it is as if the Mayor is declaring war on public education. And to the extent he claims ongoing conversations with Hartford, it is about time Hartford blows the whistle on all the private behind-the-scenes discussions that allow politically motivated deferrals for Mayor Finch and team (and we as taxpayers get nothing except deception) if they expect respect and support from Bridgeport voters this year. OPEN, ACCOUNTABLE and TRANSPARENT is not what we are getting currently. Time will tell.

    1. Hear, hear; John Marshall Lee!

      Hope you and others will be attending today’s BOE meeting–Aquaculture 6:30 TONIGHT.

      OIB readers–let’s remember B’port BOE member Ken Moales is on the board of the Steve Perry charter school for B’port–approved unanimously last week by Gov Malloy/Stefan Pryor’s appointed State Dept of Education. And … Moales and Finch wrote letters of recommendation included in Perry’s application.

      Ethics complaint, anyone?

      BTW, this is the same Steve Perry who is reportedly absent 20% of the time from Hartford’s Capital Prep magnet school he supposedly leads as principal … the same Perry who this year posted the following message on his public Twitter account @DrStevePerry (verbatim):
      “Uncoachable kids become unemployable adults. Let your kid get used to somebody digging in the ass! That’s life, get over it.”

  7. Gee guys, Lennie is right! The city council cut .0387 percent from last year’s budget. They sure are tough on the mayor! I wonder if council will hit him again this year with a wet noodle.

  8. Considering the in-kind services vs the cash payment has been an ongoing issue with the City and the BOE for years, I cannot understand why anyone is shocked by this. Two words for you BOE, Separate Accounts. It would make sense if the city and BOE operated as most other cities in this state, with two separate checking accounts, BOE funds into the BOE accounts and not through city accounts.

    1. Jennifer, the in-kind services are performed by city employees already on the payroll. What are we we going to do now, hire new employees with benefits to do the same jobs that are being done now by city employees? This is just an FU from the mayor and his advisers to the board of ed and the taxpaying public. Do you really expect Finch & Sherwood to add the money it would take to pay for these services? They don’t even want to pay the money they need to put into education. The sooner people realize this is an anti-education administration, the better it will be.

      1. I understand, Andy–my point was this has been going on for YEARS and for anyone to be shocked this year has not done their homework. It is always about the money, never about the greater good.

  9. Hey Lennie, who is the council person who used his/her stipend 51 times at Stop & Shop? Who are the council people who made charitable contributions with their stipend money? Seems to me there is something illegal being done with the stipend money. You really think the council knowingly cut last year’s budget?

  10. Here is what I emailed my City Councilman, President Tom McCarthy:
    Tom–Cash not services is what the law requires and Bill Finch’s budget does not meet the MBR nor did the last budget. We will never attract major employers to our City without good schools and that takes money. The state is not meeting its obligations to Bridgeport and neither is the Mayor. The Council must help Mayor Finch understand this. You are the best one to tell him. Thanks for having the courage and the leadership skills to do so.

    Do I expect this to do any good? No, but I live in his district and someone has to tell him point blank what he SHOULD do.

    1. Gailj2, just so you know, Tom McCarthy also overspent his stipend account. He really does not care about Bridgeport finances as long as he gets his. BTW his stipend is $9,000 a year and the rest of the council gets the same amount of money. The kids can do without, the BOE can do without but the council can spend their stipend with no monitoring at all. One council person submitted 51 receipts for Stop & Shop others are submitting receipts for charitable contributions, which is illegal. These same council people will vote down a BOE increase and ignore the MBR.


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