The first public presentation of the city’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget to the City Council will highlight the 11-member Council’s meeting Monday night.
“I believe that [Finance Director] Richard Viscay has completed the budget report and he will be distributing it to the Council [Thursday],” said Council President Patrick Keefe. “So we’ll have a chance to review it before the Monday meeting and then we can start up the discussions where we want to go from there.”
There is much local anticipation about the budget in regard to the lower revenues being projected due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“I know there are going to be personnel cuts that have to be made,” said Keefe. “I fully understand that and I just want to make sure we’re comparing every department across the board. You hate to see one department be cut by 6-8 percent and another department not having any other cuts.”
Keefe expects the large portion of the councillors’ budget discussion to be about “personnel.”
Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna delivered a frank assessment of the fiscal challenges ahead for the city, stating, “I am not looking forward to the upcoming 2021 budget. Because of the coronavirus, every state and city has taken a hit financially, Revere being one of them.”
McKenna said the city had a $6 million surplus last year, “but now we have a deficit.”
“It’s going to affect city employees, Revere public schools and our first responders. I believe the administration has its challenges going forward.”
McKenna said before COVID-19 created a national health and economic crisis, each councilor put together a “wish list” for Mayor Brian Arrigo.
“I know all the items that I
had listed are now impossible to fulfill,” said McKenna. “I would still like to
see a couple of streets in my ward that have no sidewalks and where the
pavement is deteriorating, to be fixed. I would also like to see 50 trees
planted in Ward 1, especially in Beachmont because of the heavy flow of planes
flying overhead. But as a
councilor representing the city, I will do my best and work hard to save as many jobs as I can. That will be my first priority.”
McKenna recalled that she was once laid off for seven months during her teaching career. “It was an awful experience and I wouldn’t want anyone to go through that,” said McKenna. “I thank Richard Viscay for being accessible to the council about the upcoming budget. I believe he is brilliant and will find ways to save jobs in the city.”
Councillor-at-Large Steven Morabito expressed his belief that there will be a lot of cuts in the new budget.
“When I first ran for public office, I know we were trying to recover from a recession, so the current economic situation is not something that I’m not familiar with,” said Morabito. “I believe there is going to be a lot of cuts in the budget and it’s going to be a very, very thin budget.”
Morabito said he would like to see unnecessary expenditures cut “prior to any jobs being cut.”
“I don’t want to see any essential jobs cut,” said Morabito. “We can make suggestions, but we don’t have the authority to cut the positions. Mayor Arrigo can bring the budget to our attention and we can make recommendations, but at the end of the day, it’s up to the mayor whether he wants to make cuts to positions or not.”
Morabito said maintaining the current number of positions in the Police Department, Fire Department, and Department of Public Works is a top priority for him in the budget. The regular meeting of the Council will begin at 6 p.m. and be broadcast on Zoom and Revere TV