On Monday night the city council approved a $192,676,571 city budget for fiscal year 2019, which begins on July 1.
Mayor Brian Arrigo had submitted a $206,992,903 budget request to the City Council on June 11. The Ways and Means Subcommittee then vetted the budget and the council made the final vote.
Councillor Dan Rizzo argued to take out $1 million budgeted for the group insurance for city employees. Rizzo let it be known the Ways and Means Subcommittee, which he chairs, that he was seeking to reduce the group health care budget from $20,085,645 to $19,085,645.
The FY18 budget for group insurance was $17,680,225.
City Auditor Richard Viscay explained that city employees have a “premium holiday” where premiums are paid by the city entirely for three weeks. Normally the city pays 80 percent of the premium and the employee pays 20 percent.
He noted that the city is self-insured, and he believed Rizzo’s idea to cut funding was risky and that the city does use a third-party expert to go over the insurance.
“It makes no sense, it’s only gone up six percent in four years and now we’re up eight percent in a year,” Rizzo said, adding if more money is needed Viscay can come back.
Rizzo also pointed out the increase in the number of full-time employees (FTEs) has also gone up with 19 on the general government side of the ledger and 46 in the education budget. School statistics show 7,370 current students and 7,900 starting in September.
The council did support a cut of $50,000 from the outside legal expense in the water and sewer budget.