With only two dissenters and a few cuts, the city council approved the Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget for the city. The council approved a $169,081,832 budget after making a couple of additions and a few cuts from the originally submitted budget of $168,473,027 by Mayor Dan Rizzo.
The council voted to add bonded interest and bonded debt to the original request. The bonded debt comes from bonding items such as school buildings, fire department equipment and police department communications equipment. The bonded interest is $282,544 and the bonded debt is $465,000. The budget was also balanced with a transfer of $2.5 million in free cash. The leftover free cash from FY15 will be zeroed out and transferred to the stabilization fund. Finance Director George Anzuoni said $5.2 million will be placed in the FY16 stabilization fund.
The council also voted to make a few cuts in Rizzo’s budget. In the police department budget a request for a new $75,000 budget director was voted down. In the elections department $2,520 was cut in the postage budget. In the recreation department a request for a new clerk/typist at $36,796 was denied as was a request from the inspectional services department for a new assistant plumbing inspector at $24,423. The council cut $10,000 from the $20,000 salary increase for the city’s Finance Director.
The mayor handed in his FY16 budget to the City Council on Monday, June 8. As is procedure the budget was sent to the Ways & Means Committee for review with department heads. The public meetings were held on June 16 and June 18 and lasted just under six hours. The public meeting was continued to Monday night before the regular council meeting and last over two hours.
Councillor-at-Large and mayoral candidate Brian Arrigo and Council President John Powers voted against the overall budget. Arrigo, who also chairs the Ways and Means Subcommittee, stressed to the council that the budget shouldn’t be balanced with free cash, which is intended to pay for one-time only uses – like pothole repairs and equipment purchases.
Councillor Stephen Reardon said that getting the budget information earlier and correctly would have made an enormous difference in the process. When the budget first arrived there were no pages numbers, making it difficult to find information, then there was a problem with the recap sheet and finally there a mistake made by the finance department between free cash and the stabilization fund.
“I don’t even know if we have an accurate budget,” Arrigo said.
“We need to start improving on the process and we need to start thinking about giving something back to the taxpayers,” Reardon said. “This has become increasingly difficult in the last 10 years.”
“I am glad that we concluded the FY16 budget debate Monday night with the support from a vast majority of the city council. I thank the city council for their efforts,” said Mayor Dan Rizzo. “I am also very proud of my administration for their work to prioritize public safety, education, and the rebuilding of our aging infrastructure. In order to continue to make Revere a better place to live, work and raise a family, we need to make targeted strategic investments in our future.”