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Ganim: State Budget Means $11M To $15M Hit For Bridgeport

Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim brings together his department heads and the press Friday to discuss the state budget's effect on the city.
Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim brings together his department heads and the press Friday to discuss the state budget's effect on the city. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness
Bridgeport Finance Director Ken Flatto, left, and Nestor Nkwo, director of the Office of Policy and Management, right, discuss the city's budget challenges Friday.
Bridgeport Finance Director Ken Flatto, left, and Nestor Nkwo, director of the Office of Policy and Management, right, discuss the city's budget challenges Friday. Photo Credit: Meredith Guinness

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — The state’s long-awaited budget spells an $11 million to $15 million shortfall for the city of Bridgeport, Mayor Joe Ganim announced Friday.

Despite the “disappointing” news, Ganim vowed to hold the line on property taxes and asked department heads to continue to find ways to cut expenditures — both big and small — without cutting city services.

“I’m glad we’ve got a budget,” he said of last week’s state deal, “but I’ve got to tell you, it hurts.”

Everything is on the table for review, Ganim said. The Office of Policy and Management and Finance offices have been directed to resume a freeze on discretionary spending and hiring to help make up for the gap.

Ganim also criticized what he called a “sneaky” and “last-minute” ballot question recently presented by the Bridgeport Public Library that proposes a $2 million increase for the libraries in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

City voters approved a similar measure in 2009, but it was dependent on the city’s grand list and didn’t mean as much for the library last year. As a result, the library system’s question asks for about $2 million more.

While Ganim said he supports the library, he said such an increase would likely spell higher taxes for residents.

Elimination of state municipal revenue sharing and elderly homeownership tax relief, an increase to the cap on car tax mill rate from 37 to 39 mills and rejection of a hospital tax all feed into the city’s woes, said Finance Director Ken Flatto.

How will the city deal with the shortfall?

City leaders have already trimmed about $3.5 million in personnel cost reductions and discretionary spending, Ganim said. Bridgeport also hopes to save more than $5 million by refinancing some city debt.

“We’re going to tighten up wherever we can,” Ganim said.

The mayor also pointed to a series of recent economic developments that may add significantly to the grand list, including PSEG’s $550 million gas-powered plant now under construction, a $400 million investment to revitalize the Poli and Majestic theatre, a $15 million outdoor amphitheater and the $675 million MGM casino proposed near Steele Pointe.

“That’s tax base growth,” he said of the proposals.

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