Mary-Jane Foster, an exploratory candidate for mayor, says Mayor Bill Finch is so desperate for revenues in an election year he’s placed a for sale sign in front of City Hall. Ah, yes, the city’s for sale. From Foster:
The Finch administration has served up another ill-conceived, ill-timed and thoughtless proposal. Why suddenly throw City Hall and the City Hall Annex on the market with a request for proposals that are unrealistic and make no sense? A sale and lease back only makes sense if the result generates revenue from the sale and increases tax revenues for the city.
Where does this proposal fit in the earlier discussions of consolidating municipal office space and disposing of no longer necessary city-owned buildings? Consolidation would decrease expenses and the sale of unused buildings would drive some economic development opportunities. Here in Year 4 of the Finch administration, there is still no vision, no plan and no execution of these long ago identified opportunities.
What happened to the mayor’s promise to forego one-time revenues to plug the budget holes? That promise must be packed away with the promise to give everyone in Bridgeport a $600 tax refund.
The lack of coherence suggests desperation for revenue. With a budget deficit that moves with each day, unfunded pension liabilities and a Rainy Day Fund that is essentially at zero, perhaps this is a Hail Mary to try to bridge a gap that the administration doesn’t have the skill or stomach to deal with realistically. Some transparency or open communication about just how bad the situation is and what the options are would be helpful but are highly unlikely given this administration’s track record of secrecy.
Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the RPF revealed that tours for interested developers will be led by Art Harris, a City employee who took a medical leave to have knee replacements. In Harris’ absence, City Councilman Robert Curwen was hired as a ‘temporary’ City employee. Where is Robert Curwen now? Still working for the City? What happened to the hiring freeze? ‘Guess that’s only for individuals who aren’t the mayor’s buddies.