Layoffs Averted, but the Mayor’s Proposal Reflects Stark Realities

-By Seth Daniel

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MAYOR AMBROSINO Budget process was difficult

Mayor Tom Ambrosino is prepared to file a City Budget later this week that will be in deficit by $1.8 million, he confirmed on Monday.

The mayor’s budget will be $138.748 million and will have increased by 3.3 percent over last year, though most of that increase, he said, comes from state money being directed to the public schools.

“There were reductions in just about every department on the City side of government, including the Police Department, Fire Department and the Department of Public Works,” said the mayor. “This budget was equally as hard as last year’s. This is the third straight year of significant local aid reductions.”

There are no proposed layoffs to the City side of government, as most of the cuts have been accomplished through attrition – or by not replacing those who have retired this year.

Additionally, City Hall will not have to close every Friday, but it will remain closed on the last Friday of every month. That, however, is still in flux and Ambrosino said this status quo situation will only remain if the City Hall unions vote to defer raises.

“City Hall unions will have to vote to defer raises next year to keep things the way they are,” he said. “There are no raises budgeted for City Hall employees.”

Even with the Police force down in manpower, the Fire Department engaging in rolling station closures, the Department of Public Works on a shoestring and City Hall at bare bones levels, the City will still not be financially solvent.

Ambrosino said he would have to rely on the $1.2 million that is left in the Rainy Day Fund.

“I will be exhausting all of the reserves that we have to make this budget – all $1.2 million,” he said.

However, even exhausting the reserves still leaves a significant outstanding deficit of $600,000.

The mayor had no concrete plan for that, but said that he will either find money somewhere else, or he will reap savings from a new health insurance deal with the City’s unions.

However, Ambrosino said no matter what happens, it isn’t going to be rosy for his successor.

This is Ambrosino’s last City Budget as mayor and he will be leaving office halfway through it.

“I can survive the next fiscal year, but I pity the next person in [this office],” he said. “However, I expect this is the last year of local aid reductions. At the very least I expect it would be level funded. I think there’s hope out there. There better be hope because there will won’t be any reserves left.”

The City has made its budget the last couple of years by using some of the resources in its Rainy Day Fund.

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