Council approves Bridgeport budget
Posted in the Trumbull Forum
#1 May 13, 2014
BRIDGEPORT -- The City Council capped the budget season Monday with consecutive votes that delay a property revaluation by two years, allowing members to then adopt a budget with more modest tax increases.
"It is not the `zero'(tax increase) we wanted," said Councilwoman Susan Brannelly, D-130, a budget committee chairwoman. "But we are also able to hold our heads high and say we did not cut services."
The $522.9 million 2014-15 budget Mayor Bill Finch proposed in April raised taxes on the average homeowner by $122 and on businesses by $300. The council decreased those figures to $54 and $135, respectively.
Meanwhile, former Mayor John Fabrizi, rumored to be considering a comeback campaign, wants a peek at the closely guarded revaluation data Finch's administration and business leaders claimed would force an economically catastrophic tax hike had the state not given Bridgeport the two-year reprieve.
The city paid Vision Government Solutions Inc.$289,500 to conduct the revaluation in the fall and winter before Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat like Finch and most Bridgeport council members, signalled he would grant the city's request for a delay. The Legislature, which shot down similar requests from Bridgeport in 2013, followed Malloy's lead.
City officials have said that since Vision Solutions did not complete its $364,000 contract, the preliminary work is meaningless. Others have also argued it would be bad public relations for Bridgeport to release the raw data.
Fabrizi has filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the Tax Assessor's Office, seeking the preliminary 2013 revaluation numbers for his home on Doreen Drive.
"I understand the argument of not releasing the figures (and) scaring people who currently live here or have a business here, or those who are thinking of doing so," Fabrizi said. But he said he is personally interested in what the revaluation would have meant for his property.
Malloy signed the delay into law only last week. But Finch's office had already assumed the delay would pass in early March, a month before the mayor handed the council his proposed budget.
So Monday's council vote adopting the two-year delay was only a formality. Still, three of the 19 members present were against putting off the revaluation.
Veteran Councilman James Holloway, D-139, balked at the Finch administration's argument that in two years, more developments will be online, expanding the city's tax base and altering the next revaluation for the better.
"Not in two years," Holloway said.
Two years, however, does give Finch more time to make a case for re-election in 2015. Fabrizi is rumored to be weighing a challenge to his successor in a Democratic mayoral primary.
The council passed the new budget in a 15-4 vote after weeks of work by the Budget Committee. There appeared to be little appetite for last-minute debate, with even lone Republican Councilman Rick Torres, R-130 -- who spent the past few weeks arguing against any tax increase -- limiting his comments.
Brannelly pointed out that had the council not acted, Finch's budget would have automatically been adopted.
"If you vote `no,' you will be voting to increase taxes by twice as much," she said.
But Torres, who voted "no," said afterward that the budget process was theater staged by Finch and the Democrats.
"We were set up to be here," Torres said.
Councilman Richard DeJesus, D-134, a freshman like Torres, voted "no," but did not offer reasons to his colleagues.
"I don't like the tax increase," DeJesus said afterward, adding that the mayor and budget committee did their best.
Finch said little during the council meeting, but in a news release said that as the father of two children, "I can say in good conscience that through this budget, we're helping our city grow stronger by the day."
#2 May 16, 2014
Hey, they didn't approve my new driveway or the fancy lighting outside my property. What about my special tax break for being crooked? How come I don't get a free car and a credit card to charge whatever I want? How about that special fencing and drainage next to my property? You guys aren't done with the budget yet, I'm still supposed to get a million $$ in free stuff!! Oh, that's right, I'm not one of the crooked politicians or their friends! So how about $230,000.00 in grant money so I can get elected? No!!??? Oh, I'm not a crook so I wouldn't fit into the political landscape here.
Since: Jan 08
#3 May 18, 2014
1) you appear to live in New Fairfield, not Bridgeport.
2) either that, or you're White.
Since: Aug 10
#4 May 18, 2014
Did they budget for Corruption?
#5 May 18, 2014
..........Just giving a little sarcastic humor:)
#6 May 18, 2014
..........That's the extra 30% in every contract!
#7 May 18, 2014
The council approved the budget, but will the budget IMPROVE Bridgeport?
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