Under Review:Councillors to Hold Hearings on City Budget

By Sue Ellen Woodcock

Mayor Brian Arrigo presented his first budget to the city council touting it as a blueprint for the city to move forward with.

Arrigo said the proposed FY17 budget, which begins on July 1, will be $143,003,411 prior to state assessments and is a 2.13 percent increase over last year’s budget.

“In recent years’ budgets have customarily increased between 4 and 5 percent,” Arrigo said. “It’s one of the smallest increases in the last seven years and it doesn’t rely on stabilization funds or a rainy day fund.”

He added that if there were a cut in local aid he would be back in front of the council again.

“We are working very hard to find efficiencies,” Arrigo said.

Included in the budget is funding for a human resources department with about $100,000 for a manager and a clerk. There will also be an Office of Innovation and Data Management, which include a 311-customer service system. The Water and Sewer Department will be taken out of the Department of Public Works Department for more focused management. The Water and Sewer Department will have its own superintendent and financial manager.

There will also be an Office of Strategic Planning and Economic Development. Parking Enforcement will be taken out of the City Clerk’s office and a new parking clerk will be hired.

The Health Department will also be reorganized and separated from inspectional services.

City Councillor Anthony Zambuto brought up the fact that a year ago a budget submitted on June 13, when it has to be voted on by the council by June 30,

“I think there’s an elephant in the budget tonight,” Zambuto said. He reminded Arrigo that he was on the other side last year and had questioned then Mayor Dan Rizzo submitting a budget later than expected. Arrigo had questioned why it was late.

“If this had been the former mayor he’d be hung on a cross,” Zambuto said. “I would have liked to seen this sooner. I like the way it’s laid out, I would have liked to see it sooner.”

Arrigo said that he has been in office technically 170 days. He admitted there was a little delay, maybe a week, because he wanted the format and budget done right.

“Last year there were no page numbers on the budget,” Arrigo said. “And it was a budget without background information.”

Both agreed to work cooperatively with each other.

The city council, through its Ways and Means Committee, will go over the budget in three meetings. The first meeting is Wednesday, June 15 at 5 p.m. in the council chambers. The second and third meetings will be held Monday, June 20 at 5 p.m. and Wednesday, June 22 at 5 p.m.

“Our goal is to professionalize city government, prioritize investment in the most important city services,” Arrigo said.

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