Yikes! This week’s issue of Forbes warns that Bridgeport could be on the financial brink. Written by Daniel Fisher, Forbes asks “Are you sure you want to live here?” In Forbes’ story Bridgeport leads a pack of cities the magazine claims is on the ropes. From the article:
Most of these cities aren’t in imminent danger of bankruptcy or default, but fiscal irresponsibility, a deteriorating tax base, soaring pension costs or a combination of all three means residents may want to consider moving before they get stuck with the bill.
- City first placed under state oversight in 1988; still places property taxes in trust account for bondholders
- Retirement benefits other than pensions exceed city’s total debt of $685 million
This former industrial powerhouse on the Connecticut coast has been in financial crisis off and on since the 1980s as its factories closed, leaving behind a needy, impoverished population. Moody’s Investors Service notes that poor investment returns have hurt the city’s pension funds, while benefits like health care represent a rising claim on tax revenue.
City Hall Says:
Bridgeport left state oversight in 1995; bond trust is entirely voluntary
Mary-Jane Foster, an exploratory candidate for mayor, says Bridgeport can thank Mayor Bill Finch for Forbes’ financial storm warning. From Foster:
“The article in Forbes magazine this week is just one more embarrassment for Bridgeport. Bill Finch has had three plus years to face up to the real costs of running this city. Because of this total lack of leadership, we are once again looking at a looming financial nightmare. Budget deficits, budget secrecy, no economic development plan, jobs and pay increases for political friends all contribute to poor city services and more red ink. In 2007 Finch promised a $600 tax cut. What did he deliver? A tax increase. Soon the Mayor will have to submit a budget to the City Council — an election-year budget that is sure to be served up with a lot of blue smoke and mirrors. The city’s financial solvency and our collective future require leadership and the ability to make tough but fair choices. Anything else will simply validate this article in Forbes and once again, we will be embarrassed by the poor administration of our city.”
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