The City Council unanimously approved a city operating budget of $241,257,124 for Fiscal Year 2022 at its meeting Monday night.
“The spending plan proposed by Mayor Brian Arrigo is responsible with realistic revenue estimates based upon currently known information,” said Chief Financial Officer Richard Viscay, who made the budget presentation during a meeting of the Ways and Means Subcommittee that is chaired by Councillor-at-Large Gerry Visconti.
Viscay delivered some very good news at the outset about the excellent final shape of the town’s finances, stating that the city has achieved
a Double-A bond rating [from Standard and Poor] with a stable outlook.”
“The City has been diligent about funding its stabilization funds (also known as rainy day funds) in order to be prepared for the extraordinary and the unforeseen,” Viscay said.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which struck Revere particularly hard, certainly was extraordinary and unforeseen. But because of the strong financial footing of the city and the excellent leadership and budgetary decisions made by Mayor Arrigo, CFO Viscay and his department, and the cooperation and support of the City Council, Revere was able to overcome the financial roadblocks caused by the pandemic.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) relief package, signed by President Joseph Biden on March 11, will fund the City of Revere an additional $30 million to help fuel the economic recovery, Viscay noted.
The sparkling new residential developments and new hotels and other projects in Revere will contribute significantly to the city’s economic base. HYM’s $500 million science and technology center planned for the Suffolk Downs site further advances the city into the economic spotlight in a positive way.
Viscay noted the city’s ongoing advancement toward building a new Revere High School and said that the city will be called upon to contribute to the building of a new Northeast Regional Vocational High School in Wakefield. Revere has the highest enrollment of students among the 12 cities and towns in the Northeast school district at roughly 20 percent of the entire school population.
“This is where financial forecasting plays a major role, as both [high school] projects are slated to cost over $300 million,” said Viscay.
The city is also looking to expand to a new space for a recreational and wellness center while the construction of a new $9.2 million fire station in the Point of Pines is also on the horizon.
At the end of the budget presentation and forecast, the councillors praised Viscay, who has received a national award from the Government Finance Officers Association for his preparation of past budgets. Councillor John Powers also praised Mayor Brian Arrigo in his remarks.
“Mayor Arrigo has really turned this city around in a positive direction,” said Powers. “He has transformed it into something that we’re all going to be proud of.”
Ward 6 Councillor Richard Serino said, “We, the Ways and Means Committee, sat through 11 hours of public hearings over the last two weeks and I think you guys did a tremendous job. Personally, I don’t see anything in the budget that should be cut. We’re passing a balanced budget and that’s a credit to you [Viscay] and to the Mayor.”
Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna thanked Viscay “for all your hard work and I was very impressed with the professionalism of every single department.”
Councillor-at-Large Jessica Giannino said, “This year tested us all and to see all the department heads here this evening, this was a tough year for all of us and you guys all came together and did the right thing for the city. You supported our residents in the most difficult times that you’ve had as employees yourselves and we got through it together. This budget is a great reflection of what [the Mayoral Cabinet, city department leaders and their staffs] do every single day and of your hard work.”
Councillor-at-Large Steven Morabito singled out Ways and Means Committee Chair Gerry Visconti for his leadership of the Council’s contributions during the budget process. Morabito also praised Mayor Arrigo for “a well-balanced, level-funded, clear, and well-detailed budget.”
Council President Anthony Zambuto summarized, “I have been here a long time and a lot of people know that. The bottom line is that this has been the most professional budget presentation ever and that’s saying something. I’ve seen a lot of budgets and it’s a credit to you and your professionalism. You [Viscay] are always there to answer any questions. I also have to praise our chairman (Gerry Visconti) of the Ways and Means Committee. I know how many hours he spent going over this budget. I know how he prepared for this and I’m proud of him as the chairman of Ways and Means. I want to thank you for your efforts.”
Visconti concluded the meeting by stating, “Rich, it’s been a pleasure working with you. We had some open dialogue where we may agree or disagree, and it was handled in a professional manner and you did that and I appreciate that 100 percent.”