The City Council discussed with Finance Director Richard Viscay the city budget and the impending financial challenges in the coming fiscal year as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
The presentation by Viscay did include some “good news that state aid for 2020 should remain unaffected.”
He also stated that the City of Revere has been diligent about sticking with its stabilization fund policies.
“As it stands right now, we have $8.5 million in the stabilization funding in the general fund and $7.2 million in the water and sewer fund,” said Viscay. “it is anticipated that the city will be using its stabilization accounts to keep the budget balanced in Fiscal Year 2021 so we don’t have severe service-level cuts here.”
Council President Patrick Keefe informed his colleagues that the city will be submitting a budget to the Council by its June 8 meeting.
Ward 6 Councillor Richard Serino began a slate of hard-hitting but pertinent questions from the Council. Serino asked Viscay about future decisions being made to offset a loss in revenue.
“I want to let the Council know that we are looking at all options,” responded Viscay. “Certainly reductions in force are the last thing we want to do, but unfortunately I think we’re at that point where we would have to look at some reductions of force, if not permanently then at least temporarily.”
Serino asked in light of a possible reduction in force if the city would consider first a voluntary layoff/early retirement program “if we have to go that route.”
Viscay revealed that the city, in fact, had offered early retirement incentives to various city employees. He said the city offered “a buyout of 20 percent of an employee’s base salary for people who would have retired before May 1.”
“We did have four or five people take advantage of that and those certainly help – for every one
, it’s probably saving a new person’s job,” said Viscay.
Councillor-at-Large George Rotondo asked Viscay to project any budget shortfalls.
“On local receipts, we’re off about $2 million where we should be,” said Viscay. “We’ve passed laws to allow people to defer interest and penalties on their excise and tax bills. We could always hope that everyone waits until June 29 and everyone pays on that date and we come out event – but I wouldn’t bet on that. For Fiscal Year 2020, we’re looking at multi-million-dollar shortfalls in our local receipts.”
Ward 5 Councillor John Powers said he heard rumors that city employees’ had retired and other employees had their hours cut.
“We don’t plan on filling any positions of people who have retired,” said Viscay. “It’s safe to say that every union in the city has been contacted about the current situation and we’re working through it with those respective unions.”
Councillor-at-Large Anthony Zambuto, always a voice of reason, politely requested that his colleagues ask their questions about the budget and personnel changes at future meetings.
“There will be plenty of time to discuss it – I don’t think tonight’s the proper time to go any further with it,” said Zambuto.
The councilors heeded Zambuto’s request and the questions ended within a few minutes.
Keefe summarized, “I think it’s safe to say as a Council we’re going to have our work cut out for us. I think we need to be perepared that it’s going to be a tough year and we’re going to have really do our job on our part of dealing with the budget.”