Bailing Bridgeport Out of Emergency

Unlike some large cities and major corporations, Bridgeport residents cannot rely on state or federal government to bail them out. Dealing with the village’s fiscal emergency will be up to municipal officials and taxpayers.

State auditors have determined that, between the village’s general fund and the street maintenance fund, Bridgeport is $768,000 in debt. Clearly, that level of mismanagement took years to do its damage.

Village council members have approved a plan submitted by Mayor David Smith to deal with the fiscal emergency within five years. It was explained by accountant Justin Sloan during a council meeting last week.

For the plan to work, many pieces will have to fall into place. Some of the debt can be paid off with new police fines, higher business license fees, an increase in sanitation fees, sale of municipal property and income from oil and gas rights.

But higher taxes on all Bridgeport residents will be necessary, too. The plan envisions a 1% income tax, among other things.

That will be controversial. But taxpayers should bear in mind that the current council and mayor did not dig the deep debt hole that requires such stern measures to fill in. Whether their plan is best may be a subject for discussion. Their intent is not.

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