BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — A little more than two weeks into his new administration, Bridgeport Mayor Joseph P. Ganim painted a grim picture of the city’s financial state as he addressed The WorkPlace’s board of directors meeting Friday.
Ganim likened the situation to the one he faced during his first term in office in 1991, just after the city made headlines by filing for bankruptcy.
“It’s no secret. We’ve got our hands full,” he said. “It’s in our face. We’re digging out of the trenches of some financial mess.”
The new mayor said he expected to tackle a budget deficit of $10 million when he was sworn in Dec. 1, but independent auditors are studying ways to close the floodgates on a deficit that is “hovering closer to $20 million.".
Ganim said he hopes to avoid “draconian changes,” but said the move from former Mayor Bill Finch’s administration to his was “not the easiest of transitions.”
On a more positive note, Ganim pledged to work with groups like The WorkPlace to help get the city on track.
“I hope you find…our goal is to build on the great things you have going,” he said.
The WorkPlace conducts comprehensive planning and coordinates regional workforce development policy and programs to prepare people for careers while strengthening the workforce for employers. A national leader in the field, The WorkPlace regularly shares ideas and best practices with lawmakers, foundations, think tanks and other organizations around the country.
In his first weeks in office, Ganim said he and other members of his team, including Finance Director Ken Flatto, have reached out to the state and Gov. Dannel Malloy to discuss job creation in Bridgeport.
The mayor said he’s particularly interested in re-entry jobs for those who have had legal or financial challenges, something Malloy has championed in recent months.
“We’ll look for ways we can do even more,” Ganim said, before heading off to a meeting with 13 city labor leaders.
Before delivering his president’s report to the board, WorkPlace President and CEO Joseph Carbone called Ganim’s victory in November “a test of will and stamina” and said he looked forward to “some positive things in the future.”
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