Honesty, Integrity, and Transparent Leadership
Honesty, integrity, and transparency in City Hall begins at the top. To ensure an accountable and efficient government, our commitment to the City of Bridgeport must go beyond the decades-old practice of budget adjustments and personnel shifts, but rather include structural changes that identify gaps of opportunity, elevate the dignity of work, and advance the well-being of our community. In order to create thoughtful oversight and achieve governance the people can trust, we must end the revolving door of scandal and dysfunction.
The top priorities of the next administration must be to cultivate a culture of efficiency, provide sound fiscal management, and ensure that transparency is of the utmost importance in all management decisions.
Promoting a Culture of Efficiency & Transparency
Integration of the Chief Administrative Office and Mayor’s Office
A top priority to promote a culture of efficiency and transparency will be to closely integrate the work of the Mayor’s Office with the Chief Administrative Office. Both offices need to be in collaboration to ensure that we are doing the best we can for the residents of Bridgeport.
Equitable Boards and Commissions
a.Our Boards and Commissions serve an important role in transparency by providing civilian oversight, recommendations and promoting good practices in our city. In order to ensure a culture of efficiency and transparency, we need to establish a defined purpose for each committee and how that relates back to government accountability. b.Identify those serving on expired terms and appoint individuals who are representative of the needs of their community. This needs to be done on a consistent basis to guarantee we are constantly staying aware of the needs of our city. Our Boards and Commissions will work for every resident of Bridgeport.
Staffing & Structural Changes
a.The structure of our city government is a direct reflection of our main objectives and how we set operational standards for overall performance, management, and outcomes. As the most populous city in the State of Connecticut, we need to ensure that the caliber and experience of those managing the city are excellent and beyond reproach. To do this, we need to invest strategically in our personnel and streamline city operations. The ability to embrace organizational change and develop stronger governmental systems that are consistent is critical to the long-term growth and success of Bridgeport. b.Expanding our Grants Department and Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to fuel city-wide investment. CDBG provides federal funds that contribute to strong housing infrastructure and impacts the lives of our non-profits, seniors, and initiatives that need additional support. These two departments combined bring millions of dollars into our city to help improve our community and reduce the overall financial burden on the taxpayers. We need to add the necessary resources they need to operate and to achieve set goals. c.Examining our Labor Relations Department and taking the time to scale the capacity of our workforce through routine professional development and remaining consistent with set job descriptions, experience and expectations. Under conscious leadership, with a tailored strategy, we will fill all vacant positions in a timely manner and motivate our energetic staff within the standards expected to serve our community. d.Exemplify transparency with the City Attorney's Office by upholding compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) and fulfilling all requests in a timely manner. In addition, budgetary accountability must be evaluated to ensure we are appropriately using our internal legal resources versus outsourcing work. e.Setting measurable goals with scheduled monthly updates and quarterly reviews, will streamline the daily business activities of the city with input from departmental teams that have an extensive operational background. My administration will create a review process, incorporating insights and feedback from staff members to effectively implement ideas and goals. f.Creating a nuanced and adaptable master plan that will prioritize growth. With thoughtful coordination, we will set the standard for success. Providing thoughtful and solid leadership, we will work to ensure the dignity of our City by empowering those that represent and live in our community to be employed in leadership positions in the City and within my administration. We need to prioritize the long-term growth and sustainability of our City by strengthening our service personnel through professional development and capacity building. We need to create mechanisms for residents to communicate with our government and implement procedures to make sure that every voice is heard and answered quickly within an expected amount of time. For example, through setting up a 1-800 number for the Mayor’s Office, a weekly Mayoral podcast and a monthly community forum. This is how we will advance the well-being of our community. We are in this together and we are all stakeholders in our city’s success.
Sound Fiscal Management
Without sound fiscal management, information is often not complete or missing entirely. This leads to flawed decision-making and issues that can become serious liabilities that put our city at risk. In order for the City of Bridgeport to accomplish long-term growth and success it is critical that the next administration will lead with financial responsibility. We will reduce the burden on our tax base, and streamline the overall cost of running the City.
Conduct a Forensic Audit
The City is heading toward a critical financial crisis if we do not adopt a clear and direct approach to bring us to financial stability. Currently, the city has the highest capital bonding in history with an $805 million project deficit that is top-heavy back-loaded capital bonding debt. Our adopted budget continues to increase at a 10% rate for the past Seven (7) years without a consistent economic development plan to offset these expenses. In the first 100 days in office, my administration will conduct a forensic audit with a credible independent agency in order to create a path for true financial stability and solvency. We need to provide a clear understanding of the budget as a whole regarding debt, income, grants, and both old and new bonding money in order to have a real and transparent balance sheet.
Manage a Budget to Reflect our Goals
a.The annual budget serves as the foundation for the City of Bridgeport’s financial planning and fiscal control. In order to continue to provide a full range of services available to our citizens, business owners, and visitors that are exemplary, we must pay close attention to the management of our budget and the allocation of taxpayer dollars. According to the 2021 Bridgeport Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), the city is currently almost $1 Billion in debt, this is almost half the debt cap of our city. Our city cannot afford to widen this debt. It is time to make a budget that is reflective of the overall goals of our city to relieve the burden of debt on the taxpayer. These goals need to be true to the needs of the community, not just recreating the same initiatives and redoing the same work across departments. My administration will draft a budget that makes sure our allocations align with our objectives by eliminating wasteful spending, removing ghost positions and prioritizing hiring based on job qualifications, not politics. b.We will work with community stakeholders like all six Neighborhood Revitalization Zones (NRZ) to create a participatory budget program that aligns funds collected from blight fines to be allocated right back into the city. This will be done by allocating at least 50K of these funds to each NRZ on a rotating annual basis. As an administration, we will set higher goals as far as financial achievements and require a detailed quarterly status update and review from each department, to include the option of a spending freeze if necessary. These reviews will be conducted directly with the Mayor’s Office. The work of this administration will be transparent, inclusive, and held to a high standard.
Examine Expense v. Revenue
a.We will analyze top revenue-generating departments to create a plan that ensures we can fuel city-wide investments. The Department of Engineering, The Bridgeport Fire Marshal Division and the Permitting, Building and Zoning Department are part of our largest revenue-generating departments. We often hear disgruntled investors, developers and small contractors express that they are waiting months or sometimes years for permits. In order to generate an optimal environment for investment and economic growth that we see in our peer and aspirant cities, we need to bolster responsiveness and increase our capacity to deal with requests accordingly in a timely manner. These are key economic engines for the progress of our city; as such these departments need to operate effectively and be timely in handling permits and other requests from residents, contractors and developers. These identified revenue departments must be explored to the fullest and generate their own funds to relinquish yearly demand of 100% of its operational funds. The savings must be taken out of the budget proposal and be passed down to the residents in the form of a Mill Rate reduction. b.We will examine the extraneous costs that come with operating two City Hall buildings in Bridgeport in addition to eliminating other unnecessary financial burdens on the taxpayer. “One-off” injections of state or federal dollars are not reliable in long term financial planning. My administration will examine the ‘one-time’ impacts on our budget such as the ‘pending airport sale’ and other land exchanges and make smart decisions on our overall investments. We will sustain a mechanism that will allocate surplus funds and create positive impacts on our tax base. Identified surplus funds will be reallocated back into the budget with the main goal of reducing the city’s mill rate. While integrating the unique assets of our city such as our waterways, main highway accessibility to major cities in New England and our proximity to New York, the budget of our city will be a vehicle of investment that truly brings sustainable economic growth to our city.