Finance Director and City Auditor Richard Viscay submitted Mayor Brian Arrigo’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021 city budget to the City Council for its initial review Monday night.
Viscay said the total budget will be $223.4 million, approximately a one percent decrease from the Fiscal Year 2020 budget of $225.5 million.
Making his first budget submission as the city’s new finance director, Viscay outlined a budget that will have cuts in personnel across the board in city government.
Six employees accepted early retirement incentives of 20 percent of their base pay, a measure that city official say helped save jobs.
“We’re down about 20 full-time equivalent positions from last year as a result of the budget cuts that we had to make due to the shortfall in revenues that we’ve realized due to the pandemic,” related Viscay.
The proposed cuts by department are: Treasurer/Collector Office (2 full-time positions), City Clerk’s Office (1 position due to retirement), Public Works (2), Water and Sewer Department (3), Planning Department (1), Engineering Department (1 position that had been vacant but has been eliminated), Municipal Inspections (2), Parking Control (1), Police Department (1 civilian position), and Solid Waste Enterprise Fund (1)..
“The last thing we want to do is have a reduction in force or reductions in services, but we had our hands tied because of the shortfalls in revenue that come with the pandemic,” said Viscay.
There are no cuts in uniform positions in the Revere Police Department and the Revere Fire Department in the new budget.
Viscay said the lack of information from the Commonwealth about anticipated state aid for the new year is making it tough on municipalities.
“We are anticipating a 10 percent reduction in local aid from Governor Baker’s first proposal,” said Viscay. “We’ve reduced our local receipts (excise taxes, meals taxes, fines,) by 13 percent off of our prior year estimates,” said Viscay. “Last year, we estimated $17 million in local receipts. This year, we’re estimating $14.9 million.”
Reviewing the new budget and the one percent decrease in spending, City Council President Patrick Keefe said, “it is very rare to see a city project to spend less money than in the previous year. Obviously, there are fixed costs like pensions and health insurance and contractual increases that typically drive up annual spending by a minimum of 1-2 percent – to see an overall decrease in spending shows me that a lot of work was put in to having a lean 2021 budget.”
Keefe said he received assurances from Mayor Arrigo during the budget process that the mayor would work with both the police and fire chiefs to ensure that there would be no manpower reductions. Both departments have been severely tested during the COVID-19 pandemic with the increase in calls for medical and safety assistance.
“We don’t want to see our first responders being impacted,” said Keefe. “We have a vibrant city with a lot of a lot of community needs when it comes to police and fire and any reductions in those departments could be dangerous.”
The budget has been referred to the City Council’s Ways and Means Committee where Chair John Powers will begin presiding over budget meetings next week. The Council will vote on the Fiscal year 2021 budget at its next meeting on June 22.