The mayor of Connecticut’s largest city says he balanced the city’s budget within the first six months of his term. Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim says he did this by selling land and collecting overdue taxes, among other things.
Ganim says he inherited a $20 million budget deficit from his predecessor Bill Finch. Ganim is a former mayor and ex-convict. He defeated Finch in a heated primary last year. Av Harris, Ganim’s spokesperson, alleges Finch didn’t tell Ganim about the deficit.
“Well, within days of taking office, we found out that we had a budget deficit of $20 million. And at that point, it was all hands on deck to try to balance this budget,” Harris says.
Harris says the city made about $6 million by selling land. It sold a parcel to Sacred Heart University and some waterfront property to the Steele Pointe Development Company. There were two rounds of city employee layoffs, and Ganim’s office also started collecting on overdue bills and property taxes, which Harris says it hadn’t done under Finch.
“There are always things we can do to tighten up the collection of revenues. Fines that are owed for blight, for instance, and back rents. Individually they may seem small, but they can add up to millions of dollars,” Harris says.
According to Harris, the city is now about $600,000 in the black, and the Ganim Administration expects a $2 to $3 million surplus by the end of the fiscal year on June 30, 2017.