Mining Financial Challenges

Two weeks into a new mayoralty, Joe Ganim’s administration is trying to get its arms around an inherited budget deficit, a declaration financial chiefs shared Monday night with the budget committee of the City Council. CT Post scribe Brian Lockhart has more:

Last month the outgoing administration allegedly spent nearly $706,000 on golf cars and other improvements at Fairchild Wheeler Golf Course. New Mayor Joseph Ganim’s lieutenants tossed that number and some other hefty figures out to members of the City Council Monday.

It was the equivalent of yelling “fore!” on the golf course. But rather than warning of incoming balls they were warning of what they claim to be a mounting budget deficit approaching at least $10 million.

“We are facing what we believe is a significant financial challenge,” said Kenneth Flatto, the ex-Fairfield selectman whom Ganim has hired as his finance director.

Full story here.



  1. Hmmm, maybe the new plan is to steal all the money scheduled to be stolen up front this time and blame it on Finch. Then proceed squeaky clean from there. Clever. “We are facing a significant financial challenge,” that is political speak for saying nothing. If you have almost $600 million, or more by now in the budget and you can’t fix a $10 million problem, then you’re not good at fixing problems.

  2. Unfortunately, I arrived late to the party, from another community meeting. There were three City administrators presenting the financial data, although there were more Ganim transition and campaign support people in attendance. John Gomes, Nestor Nkwo and Ken Flatto had some helpful comment on the changing scene and the comments were careful and professional from where I stand. Has there been time to review the expenditures on golf carts, WiFi systems, splash pads, legal consultants, videographers and such by the City in the last 18 months? Likely not. But it was a reasonable time to make a statement as they did.

    More than half the City Council members were in attendance and questions came from them as well as from B&A members. Denese Taylor-Moye, co-chair, maintained good order and a flow of questions from those present and Scott Burns, the other co-chair, had some questions of his own. Council President McCarthy, the “expert” in the room on Council behavior by the rules (as well as that which is politically expedient) did not weigh in on the questioning that had to do with the passage (by operation of statute) for the passing of increased municipal pay ranges as the last Council finished their terms. But he did speak up when the subject came to an anticipated meeting between B&A co-chairs and the Mayor takes place in the very near future. He recited a rule that requires the publishing of notice of a public Council session when more than a small number of Council members comes together. (Did that rule come into play 30 months ago when Council President McCarthy instructed Council members as to an opportunity to carve out nearly $30,000 of taxpayer money to give to local charities in a primary and election year, with no public notice, no agenda, no minutes but the money got spent? What other rules will we learn about in the coming days? Will the Council ask for and begin to review City agreements and the ways dollars flow from City-owned property like Webster Bank, Park City Communities (former Bridgeport Housing Authority), and the outside firms who represent the privatization of our construction oversight? Will “aggressive” tax collection practices be reviewed by the new team as variants relative to booting, WPCA, etc. were in the past year, or is that “sacred ground” once again? Where are the land mines? Time will tell.

  3. Yes, Tom Sherwood was there, as a Fairfield resident with “nothing to do” according to Brian Lockhart. I did not ask him why he expedited a $15,000 check to Mike Marella’s PAL program one month ago and my guess was he was not going to be forthcoming discussing such either. I wrote on that subject a couple weeks ago, and it received only two comments so it may be it is too small an item for most OIB taxpayers to be concerned about. But that attitude by the public is counted on by those with the power to spend public money, in order to provide cover for them. Cumulatively it gets to be money that was not currently necessary to fund “good government” if we had checks and balance mechanisms working. When was the last time the Council was asked to approve a “budget transfer?” And why did that Charter process come into such slight use? Was there another “interpretation” by attorney or redefinition by accountant without public notice? Time will tell.

  4. My bad, forgot to mention Mayor Ganim is evidently going to appoint a Tax Advisory group, with no power or authority it seems to give him feedback. Curious?
    Knocking on far fewer doors than Mayor Joe did during the election campaign, I found people were ready to tell you taxes were too HIGH relative to City services received and property owners were worried they would rise beyond personal breaking points simultaneous with the continuing decrease in housing values in many parts of the City.
    If so, then such a group should be tasked with looking at the Net Taxable Grand List and what is ongoing that will increase it, or possibly can take a big chunk from it (Wheelabrator decision?) and how that will impact with budget formation.
    Of consequence was the Council resolution last session to pursue a study of “land use valuation,” which deadline will expire December 31, 2015 unless a mechanism/agreement is found to petition for an extension of this opportunity to have our small land base yield more in taxes by challenging owners of underdeveloped properties to get going today or sell to someone who will develop. Do I have the correct sense of such valuation? I am not sure, but isn’t that what an advisory group should be looking at in depth? Rick Torres, et al., where are you? Time will tell.

  5. It may seem JML is providing too much information when the opportunity to make points is there. It would be wise of the Ganim team to note the points and review them with John.

  6. *** Let’s hope Joe hires good qualified people but takes his time picking them. There’s no rush, it’s only been two weeks for this new admin and so far some of Joe’s choices have been shaky to say the least! ***

  7. *** Time for an experienced independent financial firm to come in and do the city budget and take the politics out of the equation once and for all! The sitting city council members can still vote on the results of course before sending it back to the Mayor with the B&A’s blessing after they review it and it’s explained to them in full easy layman’s terms. The money for paying the firm is in the council’s legislative line item where their stipends come out of! Also, it keeps both sides separate and independent from the political goings on and things that transpire during city budget season, no? ***


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