Gulp–Bridgeport’s High Tax Rate


Yikes. This is one list you don’t want to be on. A report by The Office of Revenue Analysis of the government of the District of Columbia places Bridgeport number one for the largest tax rate in the country when combining property, sales, auto and income taxes. According to the recently released study, a hypothetical Bridgeport family of three earning $75,000 paid $16,333 in taxes or nearly 22 percent of its income in 2012. The total does not include federal taxes.

Cheyenne, Wyoming had the lowest tax rate in the country, according to the study. The analysis shows that areas with lower tax rates come from states less densely populated, possibly because the cost of running those cities is less. The study measured cities with the highest populations in their respective states.

After Bridgeport, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Columbus, Providence, Portland ME, Louisville, Detroit and Wilmington DE round out the top 10. The city’s mil rate of 41.85 is among the highest in Connecticut. City officials are urging state legislative leaders to delay state-mandated revaluation of property for two more years in the hope an economic turnaround will stabilize city finances. City officials fear if reval is not put off, the mil rate will jump into the 60s, jacking property, auto and business taxes.

From the report:

1. Bridgeport, Conn.
• Taxes for family earning $25,000: $4,001 (4th highest)
• Taxes for family earning $150,000: $33,208 (the highest)
• Unemployment rate: 7.8%

No large U.S. city had a higher tax burden than Bridgeport, where a family of three earning $150,000 a year paid more than 22% of its income in state and local taxes. However, the metro area, which includes affluent Fairfield County, is wealthier than much of the U.S. and was used to calculate home values and property burdens by the Office of Revenue Analysis. More than 20% of households had an annual income of at least $200,000, more than any other metro area reviewed. The city’s high tax burden was due in large part to property taxes, as the area had both high home values and high effective property tax rates. Also propelling the city to the top of the list were Connecticut’s relatively high income tax burden of 5.2% on families earning $150,000 per year as well a high tax burden for car owners.

Read the USA Today story here.



  1. To borrow a phrase from the padrone of this webzine, this study looks like a screwy rabbit.

    That stated, the largest employer in the City of Bridgeport is the City of Bridgeport. Has been for years. That’s not good. I’m not saying the city is overstaffed. There should be private employers than compete for the title, or enough small ones to make the title meaningless.

    Building a gun shop on the East Side is not economic development.

  2. Jim, this study has been around for better than 15 years. It has been vetted extensively and the study’s conclusions published in Forbes, CNBC website, NY Times, CT Post and others. It studies the largest city in each state only. Both NH and Hartford could arguably beat us if they were larger. Additionally, there are countless smaller taxing areas like Beverly Hills that would outdo us. However, those areas don’t have people living there in the $25K/year category. In any event we are not #1 by a little, we are #1 by 2X. That means there is a problem with leadership.

    Politicians should worry about such things, but when they are clueless they focus on Solar/FuelCell Projects on the waterfront and on historic parks.

    When you can’t convince, confuse! That should be Bridgeport’s tagline.

    1. Rick, that sounds like the mantra of our current leadership (such as it is) in Washington … diversion, skewed statistics, clueless legislators (Pelosi & Reid) and indifference to the general population by elected officials with no term limitations.

  3. Rick: You partially hit on what drives me bats about most rankings of the City of Bridgeport. We tend to get averaged into a federal statistical metropolitan area–basically Fairfield County or portions thereof.

    I’m not sure what to believe. I’m not sure anyone else is either.

    These studies seem to do best at fitting a preconceived notion–negative or positive–of the community.

  4. “The total does not include federal taxes.”

    Ponder that. Before adding in Federal Income taxes, we are already #1. That is so special, isn’t it?

    Jim Callahan’s comments got me to check up on some other numbers. Some are located in the 2013 CAFR now available to all on the City Finance Department site. It shows full-time employment categories in the non-educational departments of the City have decreased from 1,539 in 2004 to 1305 in 2013. If you refer to the Public Schools site it shows a total of 2080 people employed by the BOE, with 1554 engaged in Instruction activities.
    So Jim is correct, the City of Bridgeport is the largest employer with St. Vincent’s at 2224 (up four employees in ten years) in second place, followed by Bridgeport Hospital at 2017 (down from 2700 ten years ago) and then People’s Bank at 1155 (down from 2400 ten years ago) according to the chart on Page 95.
    The City has shed 15 Library positions, 10 Information Technology jobs, 77 police and 94 fire department positions in the same time period. Increases of Office of Mayor from six to nine people, Grants from nine to 14, Chief Administrator from one to four and minority business from zero to three show decreases and increases both occurring.
    The Mayor has also removed 37 public health nursing employees in 2008 and moved 19 school-based health clinics in 2009 from the City budget.

    When it comes to efficiencies one would look at the CitiStat office that at one time under John Gomes worked to explore how to get more work product from resources and people efficiently but that department with four people employed seems to have stopped doing those types of evaluations. And one has to ask just what employee evaluations are part of City government today from some of the stories leaking from City Hall corridors along with subsequent legal actions happening.

    You can call it oversight. You can call it monitoring. Some happen to call it Watchdog activity. Whatever … It is not happening … and while Callahan will not accuse the administration of overstaffing, I will suggest without evaluations, you cannot defend appropriate staffing. And without a firm regular handle on staffing you find (CAFR, page 34) Police, Fire and Emergency service overtime was $8 Million overexpended in 2013.
    It seems the Finance Department has changed the method of reporting some Fire and Police fiscal information, especially that which has to do with Overtime. One example in the December 2013 monthly financial report relating to Fire Department Regular 1.5 Overtime Pay (Object Code 51108): through six months of the current year an expense of $2,126,000 for regular Overtime already projects an $819,758 deficit, assuming that is a trustworthy number after several years of actual exceeding budgeted and being noted as such in the CAFR.
    Will overtime come under any control anytime soon, while public safety employees know their pensions are no longer based on base compensation? And if pension costs expand, then State and or City taxes must increase, right? Does that mean Bridgeport will maintain its #1 status for many years to come? Does Bridgeport need more than superficial attention to these items? Time will tell.

      1. You are correct Bob, and you stated a “whole truth.” Mayor Finch has a habit of providing the “half-truth” version. Yes there is a reduction to the City side, but if the BOE picks it up in some way, the taxpayer still is paying for services.
        The Mayoral office is up 50% in positions and the CAO is up 300% in the ten-year time period. A reasonable person might be looking at what services are provided for those significant increases in employees, but if a wonderful bound copy of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is delivered to you as a City Council member and you do not read it you would not recognize that truth. Would you ask any questions? Time will tell.

  5. It’s a faulty conclusion to blame Bridgeport’s taxes on leadership.
    The report in question involves Washington DC–hardly a town known for fiscal prudence. Mayor Finch has maintained city services at a steady pace which has prompted a yearly tax increase. Many of the problems are “baked into the cake.” No town in America has been able to escape a tax increase!
    Mr. Torres will have a chance to change that.
    I wish Mayor Finch would do what Governor Brown did in California. He eliminated many cherished programs and waited for Californians to complain. They did and he promptly raised taxes–without complaint–to restore those same services. Today, he’s a popular Governor. I wish this blog would report more on California’s transformation. They are ahead of the curve. We’re behind it.
    Here’s my worldview: Fifty years of deficit spending has hurt Bridgeport more than any other city in America.

  6. This problem could and should be corrected but it will not happen. The people of Bridgeport want “free stuff” from government and who is going to pay for it? The people who pay taxes. Just once I would love to see all the incumbents lose, but they bribe the people with the people’s money so it will never happen.

    To those who are tired of this garbage, move. Eventually Bridgeport will go the way of Detroit.

  7. LE,
    Is it faulty to blame leadership for failure to manage well? Is it faulty to hold them accountable for keeping the fiscal picture so well shrouded not even the recent Co-Chairs of City Council Budget & Appropriations have been able to get a comprehensive grasp of the dollars coming into the City from different sources and that are then spent for items, programs and personnel expenses that are nowhere projected transparently and connected to leadership priorities?

    Board of Education budgeting in the past two years is a better example of Open, Accountable and Transparent process because local, state and federal revenues as well as grants from outside are identified as to source and how they are applied. And they also identify all of the positions funded on behalf of services to the people of Bridgeport.

    That is not what occurs on the City side of the budget and whether the type of presentation will continue on the education side is dependent on how well the new BOE understands where they are and what to do with the solid grasp of financial reality on the part of their CFO Marlene Siegel.

    Approximately 3400 people are employed full-time by the City of Bridgeport. I don’t know how many of them are residents of the City, but based on certain info I will guess fewer than 40% live and vote in the City. Therefore if 9000 people voted last year, maybe 7700 were not direct City employees (although some were no doubt family members), how many people would be voting for services and how many for a salary check and benefits if Bill Finch were to pull a California move?

    And how does one monitor what leadership is responsible for anyway if the bully pulpit is not used to inform and educate, but rather to superficially inspire? And if a Mayor fails to include enough fresh-faced community volunteers into responsible stewardship of Boards and Commissions, how good is the leader’s grasp of leadership? Should a Mayor maintain people in those positions or should he frequently change people when terms expire and spread the base of experience wider for future responsible trusteeship and decision making for all of the community? Currently he allows service years beyond expiry with little or no report to the community at large of what does this do to weaken the community. Taxes are a distressing part of the larger issue. But there are many other parts of the picture and blame and consequences should be assessed by the public, inasmuch as increasing taxes are our consequence, as long as we vote with our feet to stay! Time will tell.

  8. Another gap in my productivity:
    Failure to manage well is a leadership issue–judging it, however, is a personal opinion.
    Commission terms are extended because replacements are hard to find. If the Mayor did what California did, expenses would be slashed, expensive jobs lost and taxes lowered. Does Bridgeport want that? Answer: that’s why we have a City Council.
    Start with a 50% tax cut and see what needs to be removed. That’s when you’d discover what transparency is all about!

  9. This is the exact same reason why I’m no longer a Democrat and thinking about changing my registration to independent. I voted for Obama twice, voted for Himes, Murphy etc. but since the gun debate has come up I have found out Democrats are nothing but socialist. In big cities you cannot protect yourself from thugs’ violence because of all these stupid gun laws. Ron Paul was correct when he spoke about how Obama is a socialist. Charlie is correct, most people move out of Bridgeport because of things like this. I myself have been thinking about moving out of Bridgeport and CT altogether after this year. Jim Callahan, the gun shop might not be a economic development like you would say but it sure gives the resident a way to have their second amendment rights. I voted for Malloy in 2010 and I sure as hell will not be voting for him again. Democrats are socialists. I was a part of the wrong party for seven years.

    1. donj–as a woman in the Republican party, all I can say is what has worked for me is to stay in the party and fight to remove the fringe of your party, for me it is the tea party radicals, for you it is WFP and other extreme members of your party. I voted for Obama the first time–well actually I voted against Sarah Palin, as I woman I found it offensive my party assumed I would support an unqualified candidate. So while I would welcome you to the R side, if you cannot cross that line I urge you to consider staying with your party and fight to have the more moderate Democrats become the voice of your party. Much like you, I am far more of a libertarian than a typical Republican … however, I could be wrong!

  10. For those who question the number-one ranking, the point is not the number-one ranking. In numerous studies Bridgeport has come up in the top ten. So the point is not the specific ranking, Bridgeport should not come up in the top 10 and should not come up in the top 20. So unless the mayor has something to prove about how Bridgeport should not come up in the top 20 then this report still sucks and our government sucks too.

  11. C’mon, let’s cut taxes …
    Is someone pointing a gun at your head?
    Then let’s eliminate the police department.
    (sniffing) Do you smell smoke?
    Then let’s eliminate the Fire Department.
    In addition, your children are smarter than you think. They don’t need school, they need sports–so let’s redeploy all BOE employees as coaches and referees.
    Eureka! You might think I’m half crazy but the other half is completely insane, while Bridgeport just cut taxes by 50%.
    Sanity will make an appearance at the next City Council meeting.

    1. You idea to cut police and fire is silly. However, the $120K/year ‘mayors liaison to the BOE’ job may be an expense we could do without. I am sure if you looked a little closer, you will see a lot of cushy positions held by people who are ‘on the inside.’ Look around at the airport.

      1. BOE SPY,
        Thank you for regularly providing new info on varied subject to OIB readers. The Education Tsar position you reference was created by the Mayor to work with his appointed BOE when the Charter was approved.
        When the Charter was not approved, the position was filled anyway and securing dollars to help the schools through a philanthropic foundation became the new responsibility. The Tsar left town for “greener pastures.” It was also announced the Foundation was being closed. Monies had been raised around specific activities and was being spent. It was also disclosed some funds had been pledged but had not been yet received though programming was active.
        The desire to look at a City activity, know how it is funded, see how it works to meet needs, and tweak if necessary is not merely a desire of good managers, but also for those who monitor the managers. In Bridgeport where there is no Finance Board and where the Internal Audit function has been severely weakened by elimination of positions, it is more important than ever to see how all dollars come to the city, where they are applied and what balance of work, need or funds are currently necessary. We do not get to see what happens to Capital Funds from one year to the next. We get no reporting on Grant Funds spent by the City side of the budget. And we do not hear from the Mayor how the operating budget and these other fund sources work to fuel the necessary and priority City activities. This is not sustainable governance administration. Time will tell.

  12. Events have conspired against me. I think swear Jennifer Buchanan is in cahoots with Ansonia’s mayor in their attempt to humiliate me. It’s working, too. I was wrong and she was right. I never said I was an expert on municipal taxes but now I look like a fraud before my former peers who have now eclipsed me in knowledge and fame. I’m in danger of violating this blog’s strict NO TEARS policy as I watch my life cascade into a sea of misery and despair … Sadness and loneliness are my only friends.

  13. If our mayor didn’t work a deal with his Hartford cronies to put off house assessments for two years we would have had lower property taxes, but then he would just jack up the mil rate to cover his losses.
    After all there are more out-of-town driveways to be built and cabinet raises to cover.

  14. It’s a fast world we live in. If this blog penalized me for every time I rightfully apologized to a fellow blogger, I’d be a three-time loser. I can only hope Lennie shows mercy.

  15. This all goes back to the FACT politicians could never make it in the real world. Because if they were personally responsible for their fiscal decisions, just like a businessperson, they’d be bankrupt one and all. You’d see how quickly fiscal problems would get solved if the politicians had some personal responsibility.

  16. One of the biggest factors that is afflicting the city is the broken P.I.L.O.T. system and the neighbors in the county not paying their fair share.

    We’re forced into hosting all of the local courthouses, the jails and halfway houses that don’t pay property taxes. Every town in northern Fairfield County should pay a surcharge to cover the costs borne by the city which doesn’t receive anything more than PILOT.

    The housing authority is the largest landowner in the city and doesn’t pay property taxes but uses city services. A thousand churches and a hundred parks don’t provide any relief of the burden either. Two hospitals, which arguably increase the quality of life, don’t pay property taxes either.

    These have as much to blame as deindustrialization of the ’80s.

  17. The issue of the services the people want and those they need and those they can afford is open to debate. The Dems in the city are forced to live inside the box they built for themselves. They built public housing to bring in people to keep themselves in power. More than the community could support. These people are not affected by taxes. They would support a high tax, high spending government. The people who want these votes are forced to continue with the status quo even if it breaks the back of the taxpayer.
    As far as the services they need, take this example. A guy making $100K/yr hatches a plan to live inside the ‘system’ as it is designed. He divorces his wife, takes all the family assets and gives her custody of the kids. He reduces his health insurance from the $160 /wk family plan to the $40/wk single guy plan and she and the kids go on Obamacare for free. She has no job and no income. Since she is now a tenant and he charges her, but never collects, rent. She now gets renters assistance, heating assistance, WIC and SSI. The evil and nasty tea party wants to cancel these programs. The good and well-meaning Dems point to this lady as a poor, single mom with two kids who will now suffer unimaginably due to the cuts. In reality, this family will simply go back to living like they were without the programs and they certainly will not be voting for a tea party candidate in the near future. This is the Catch-22 we are stuck inside. The things you need to do the fix the problem are not the things you need to do to get elected.
    As far as California goes, having a popular governor does not mean the problem went away. As more people get poorer and use the programs and more taxpayers grow frustrated and move away, the hole gets deeper and deeper and exponentially more difficult to solve. They may resort to vilifying the rich and sanctifying the poor. Turn to vice, drugs and gambling as painless solutions. Turn to socialism as a way to even the playing field. Finally, resorting to a new form of government (communist or fascist) that is not so easily influenced by the wanton clamoring of the lower classes as a solution. At this point everyone will be the lower class so it will be the only solution.

  18. *** What has “high taxes” in general brought to the Park City; Absolutely “nothing,” “nada,” “zero,” “a blank,” “urban decay,” “false hope.” *** IT CAN ONLY GET WORSE ***

  19. *** If the “High Taxes” continue in this city the way they have been going, more homeowners, businesses and industry will leave the Park City! *** WHAT’S HERE NOW TO MAKE THEM WANT TO STAY? ***


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