Finch Happy About Fitch Report

When a major Wall Street bond rating agency doesn’t mess with the city’s creditworthiness government bean counters breathe a sigh of relief. It means the city will not pay higher interest rates for borrowing. Fitch Ratings has affirmed Bridgeport’s general obligation bonds at ‘A’. Last week Standard & Poor’s downgraded the United States government rating of long-term federal debt to AA+, one notch below the top grade of AAA. From Mayor Finch:

Fitch Affirms City’s ‘A’ Bond Rating

During the greatest recession since the Great Depression, and at a time when the major ratings agencies has downgraded the U.S. bond rating, one of the nation’s major ratings agencies has reaffirmed the City’s ‘A’ bond rating.

Today’s news from Fitch Ratings affirms the City’s ‘A’ long-term bond rating and ‘stable’ outlook on the City’s outstanding general obligation bonds.

The decision by Fitch to affirm the City’s excellent rating at its present level means the City will not have to pay higher interest rates for any long-term borrowing. In affirming the City’s ‘A’ rating, Fitch took the following items into consideration as its key ratings drivers:

• The city’s management team has made conservative debt and budget decisions helping it to manage its way through this recessionary period

• With tough expenditure cuts and successful negotiations with its labor unions, the city has reduced general spending and future employee benefit costs and built up reserves

“During a time when bond ratings have captured the nation’s attention, we’re pleased that Fitch is showing confidence in Bridgeport,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “We have worked hard for the past three years to reduce spending, trim department budgets and keep taxes level while delivering excellent service for our residents. We are very happy to have Fitch recognize all the hard work that we’ve done; this is great news for Bridgeport taxpayers.”

In assessing the City’s performance, Fitch highlighted the following items in Fiscal Years 2010, 2011 and 2012:

· In fiscal 2010, the City generated a $4.9 million surplus after transfers due to the city’s proactive efforts in collecting taxes, a freeze on certain expenditure items, employee layoffs and a hiring freeze. This surplus boosted the general unreserved fund balance to $15.6 million or 3.3 percent of spending, a level generally consistent with this rating category

· The city’s fiscal 2011 budget was balanced and did not include the appropriation of any fund balance

· The fiscal 2012 budget includes neither one-time revenues nor the use of the fund balance, which Fitch views favorably

Acting City Finance Director Dawn Norton said, “Holding our present excellent bond rating is great news. Rating agencies are expressing their confidence in the City’s fiscal policies; validating that the City’s finances remain very stable in an otherwise unstable economic climate.”

More on the Fitch report



  1. Lennie, thank you for running this financial article. Readers, sorry to re-run substantial comments from the previous post, but they are specifically on point here.
    Reading the article again, I may have the budget years confused, but that is easy when the most recent info available three weeks ago was from eight months of the 2010-11 budget. So my questions still pertain, and especially so if Fitch did not see a closeout of the most recent year and compared balance sheets from year to year. I trust very little of what is posted or reported financially based on the lack of knowledge regularly revealed by those who vote for our obligations and make us responsible for future payments. So, with apologies to those who will read the following a second time:

    “Some of the City Council see themselves as a “financial check and balance.” From my observation this year, it would seem they have trouble balancing the City expenditure checkbook that is the annual budget.

    Part of the reason is Sherwood and friends. Reports to the Council are regularly late per the Charter and without sufficient detail. Requests from those who do question are not met with full or timely responses.

    And on August 12 the CT Post reported on page A2, “City Maintains ‘A’ Bond Rating” in which Bill Finch is quoted, “This is great news for Bridgeport taxpayers.” The Fitch rating pertains to general obligation bonds used for long-term borrowing. Does this apply to the special troubling situation of our Pension Plan A Pension Obligation Bonds, since they are not specifically ‘general obligation’ bonds? Do you guess that Bill Finch or your Council person either knows or cares about the answer?

    You must know the person who knows about these specific facts is John Stafstrom. He has been architect of, steward for, compensated bond counsel professional, and Pension Plan Trustee. He is also a City vendor, who needs permission, I guess, from Acting Finance Director Norton to tell us what the facts are.

    The Pension Obligation Bonds bear a high interest rate yet for some reason unexplained to the taxpaying public, they have not been refinanced. The totals expense for the annual POB principal and interest in the current fire and police budgets is higher than the reported financing by Bloomberg. Bridgeport Now is in pursuit of explanations as we all are. Big money annually from department budgets! And this money does nothing to solve the current funding issues for Pension Plan A Mayor Finch has ducked for four years courtesy of the State of CT accepting the wailing-wall stories by Finch and staff.

    Finally, the Post said the Fitch rating was based “on the City’s ability to generate a $4.9 million surplus that helped bring up its fund balance to $15.6 million in the fiscal year 2010 budget … and to balance the city’s current budgets without dipping into the fund balance or depending on one-shot revenues.” (Has the City posted year-end financial results in the past couple weeks for June 30, 2011?)

    With the fund balance falling to the desperate level of $10 Million (from five times as much during Ganim days) that is the reason there was no dipping into it! And as far as ‘one-shot revenues’ like the sale of City properties, for instance, the attempts were out there but were grandly unsuccessful as reflected in the budget report of February 2011. One million of property sales were predicted and less than 10% of that was expected.

    So, wherever the CT Post staff gathered this reporting, did they take a look at June 30, 2011 numbers? I am talking about balance sheet numbers now, not income and expenses. What was the balance of Other Post employment Benefits (retiree healthcare)? Did it grow to $880 Million or more? And what is the number for the Internal Service Account compared to previous periods? What change occurred in our City debt including tax anticipation note balances during the past year? Lots of other info good financial detailed reporting might reveal. Instead we get a grin, a “great news” statement from hizzoner, and incomplete info from the CT Post.

    Folks, it’s timely to talk with your City Council persons. Ask them for their latest copy of the City financial report. Ask them if they have read the report and to list for you the three best things they understand from it as well as the three most troubling things.

    Their answers will tell you about our Bridgeport financial check and balance system as it operates today. And your failure to ask them these questions and expect good answers will be simple but partial evidence of why we we find ourselves in trouble today.”

  2. It just goes to show you Finch is living in the past and in LaLaLand. To use a year-old rating as an indication all is stable in Bridgeport is a farce. It also shows the government is out of touch with current reality, as is this mayor.

  3. Let me be brief. The city is dependent on the State. The city owes all kinds of money for unfunded pensions. The tax base is shrinking, and the prospects from the State and Federal Government are looking gloomy.

  4. That is great news!!! Especially during a primary. What about the wasted millions of dollars to create a gateway in the North End leading to the Trumbull Mall? Merchants and residents living in the North Main Street corridor are still wondering.

  5. What happened to the great streetscapes Merchants were promised that would enhance their businesses in the North End? What happened to the great outdoor cafe environments restaurants were promised? The trees, LIGHTING, PLANTINGS AND OTHER ENHANCEMENTS THAT WOULD HAVE MADE A POSITIVE IMPACT ON PEOPLE ENTERING BRIDGEPORT FROM THE TRUMBULL MALL.
    IT seems the Finch administration lacks the enthusiasm to market the City of Bridgeport but certainly knows how to market themselves. I can not remember any Mayor who had the audacity to put signs at every street where a road was being paved praising himself and council MEMBERS from their respective districts. How much did these signs cost the taxpayer? Residents are not that ignorant and will support Mary-Jane Foster. She would have supported the small-business owners along the Main Street corridor and completed the project. But alas, like most projects that start in the city, they never come to fruition. The NORTH END IS FOSTER TERRITORY AND THE STREETSCAPE PROJECT IS ONLY A SMALL PART OF IT. WHAT A WASTE OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS!!!

    1. And Finch demonstrated his leadership skills–hands in the air–giving the future of the city Board of Ed to the State and dismissing the Hispanic population. Finch is a proven puppet for Mario Testa. The residents of this City are going to finally come out against the Democratic town committee and put Mayor Foster in office. The DTC could not deliver Ned Lamont to office and they will not be able to deliver Bill Finch. On September 13th Mary-Jane Foster will be the second Woman in the history of Bridgeport to be elected Mayor. I am sure the Bridgeport Regional Business council will find him a position. They would be wise to endorse Mary-Jane Foster.

  6. Question, why did you leave the Arena? I really would like an answer to this. ‘Cause I am under the impression you more or less gave up on it. I may be wrong please correct me if I am. Bill Finch has done a good job under hard economic times, that is why I will vote for him once again.

    1. NORTH45
      I hope this will help you with your question. I’m pretty sure Ms. Foster appreciates you having an open mind.

      It was Ms. Foster’s vision for the Arena that came as a result of the success of the ballpark. It was Ms. Foster and her investment group that got screwed by then-Mayor Ganim in a breach of a memorandum of understanding for the Arena.

  7. Ms. Foster’s team is trying to make the Mayor and his team look bad but obviously she doesn’t know how to pick her people. So that leaves me to believe she will put anybody on her team. So Ms. Foster your backyard (team) is not so clean so don’t bring up other people’s trash without cleaning your own yard first.

    1. NORTH45,
      Ms. Foster isn’t “trying to make the mayor and his team look bad.” He’s doing a great job of it and doesn’t need any assistance.

      I for one am tired of Bill Finch. He’s broken so many promises to the people of the city of Bridgeport, no one believes anything he says. $600 tax credit? Yeah, right. And if pigs had wings they could fly.

      And what about this song-and-dance number he did with the BOE? Why did Mayor Finch feel engaging in deception was the better course of action? The matter should’ve been put to a referendum for the people of the city of Bridgeport to decide.

      And that $46,000 “donation” to Bill Beccaro’s so-called “political action committee?” If Attorney Beccaro has been “reimbursing” Bill Finch and Adam “Pecker” Wood and their wives for nonpolitical expenses it would appear Mr. Beccaro is laundering money, lots and lots of money. The responses from Mr. Finch, his wife and Mr. Wood sound a little stiff and unresponsive. Their approach is to attack the character of the complainant. Must be hard to deny something if it’s true.

      Tomorrow is Monday. Mary-Jane Foster’s campaign is expected to make a big announcement regarding Tom Kelly’s ethics complaint. Not the one filed with the city ethics commission, the other one filed with the State Elections Enforcement Commission. And that’s the one we’ve been waiting for.

  8. Mostly, there are two types of residents in Bridgeport. Those who want to see change and growth for the City and those who want to see change and growth in their bank accounts. (As far as Mr. Finch is concerned the rest are illegal immigrants or felons.) Anyone who is blind to the “in your face” egregious errors in judgement the Finch administration has made, and will fight to keep that regime, has got to be benefiting somehow from that administration remaining in office. I know the rest of us are not. I voted for him in the last election. I do not live in Black Rock. I have seen nothing but the quality of this City go down since that Administration came into City Hall. I am a resident and a taxpayer who is wondering where my money is going. Our Schools are a wreck, our children need to SHARE textbooks, our streets are ghastly with potholes and patches, my tax bill is almost as much as my mortgage, downtown Bridgeport might as well have tumbleweeds rolling through it for lack of business occupancy. I am done. It’s time to move on to a new perception of normal. Because the current normal does not serve the greater good, only the chosen few.

  9. “… In fiscal 2010, the City generated a $4.9 million surplus after transfers due to the city’s proactive efforts in collecting taxes, a freeze on certain expenditure items, employee layoffs and a hiring freeze. This surplus boosted the general unreserved fund balance to $15.6 million or 3.3 percent of spending, a level generally consistent with this rating category …”

    This is ONLY Bill Finch’s interpretation. Here is mine: The City generated a $4.9 million surplus after the Bill Finch and John Ramos plot to flat fund–for four years–the Board Of Education, was approved by the Bridgeport City Council.

      1. Thanks Joel, I did include the word vote the first time but NORTH45 was lost for words like you suggested. It would be great if those who support the mayor tell us why we should VOTE FOR the mayor.

  10. NORTH45 is definitely not in the North End of Bridgeport. That is already Foster territory as well as Black Rock. South End and West End as well as East Side and East End picking up steam. Bill Finch is a nice guy. When you have the personality of “lint,” how could you possibly motivate a developer to come here? Finch’s choice for a leader in Economic Development, Donald Eversley, that was another wasted position at over $100,000 a year. He is rarely written about in the paper and has done nothing to market the city. I think the Mayor would rather be fishing. Surprise it’s Bridgeport! That was a short-lived effort.

  11. Meet Mary-Jane Foster this Thursday at Miss Thelma’s Restaurant on Fairfield Avenue downtown Bridgeport. Thursday at 6:30 pm sponsored by the Black Chamber of Commerce. Love the food there and of course will be there to support my choice for Mayor.

  12. Also … meet Mary-Jane Foster this Tuesday August 16th 7pm at Amici Miei/City Trust Atrium 955 Main Street downtown Bridgeport sponsored by yours truly and a few of my friends. Downtown residents, this one is especially for you. It is time to be informed; register to vote as a Democrat and help us demonstrate we are Bridgeport’s fastest growing neighborhood. Hope to see you Tuesday evening at 7! Volunteers welcome!


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