Everett’s Budget for 2013 a Concern for the Council

June 6, 2012
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Every year, the city of Everett presents an operating budget for the fiscal year, designed with the best interests of Everett residents to be passed by the city government. But this year, an unanticipated change occurred when the Board of Aldermen proposed additional cuts to those already made by the financial committee.

An open debate exploded in the room when it came time to vote on whether or not to pass the Annual Appropriation Bill (Budget) for 2013 with the further reductions made by the Board of Aldermen.

The financial committee originally proposed a budget cut of $259,000.  In addition to that figure, the Board of Aldermen wanted to cut $400,000 from the Stabilization Fund Account (rainy day fund), $200,000 from the Capitol Line Item Account, and $85,000 from the Code Enforcement/ISD Personal Services Account, bringing the total amount of reductions to $947,579.

A proponent of the cuts, Councilor Rosemary Miller said, “We need to be more fiscally responsible and make cuts to this budget. Trying to compete with the private sector is irresponsible.”  In order to attract qualified candidates to fill certain positions, the city of Everett has had to raise salaries, competing with the private sector. However, Miller seemed to say the city can’t afford that.

But Mayor Carlo DeMaria’s financial team advised that this is a necessary step to ensure Everett’s livelihood for the future. Donald Comeau and Tony Rosselli of the Russell Clark & Associates auditing firm of Woburn spoke to the original budget, stating that the provisions made were done to help protect Everett’s fiscal future. Making an investment to the stabilization fund enables an increase in reserves, in turn protecting the city’s bond rating and cushioning the city in case of unforeseen troubles in the future.

“The bond rating is very important,” said Rosselli. “If you’re going to do a big capital improvement, it’s important to have a good rating.”

“Investors look at that favorably and help infrastructure, which helps the city. It’s all a circle,” added Comeau.

The stabilization fund was emphasized because of its importance for the city. If there is more money in the fund now, it can be tapped into and used in the future when needed. For example, if Everett puts $1.1 million into its stabilization fund, and two years from now experiences a need for road reparations, that money can be utilized. It’s just like putting money in the bank.

“We’re here to make sure the city is worth more in the future,” said Councilor Dominic Puleo.

Ensuring the security of Everett’s fiscal future is vital both to the city and the community. Aggressive planning was done to ensure the continued quality services Everett currently offers such as education and public safety services, two areas in which substantial resources are devoted to.

The city council has a deadline of June 29 for passing a budget, and if no decisions are made, Mayor DeMaria’s original budge automatically becomes the city budget. Alderman Robert Van Campen urged the council to support the cuts to avoid furthering the conflict and potentially risking no cuts being made at all.

The Board of Aldermen voted 5-1 to approve an operating budget of $139,620,983 for 2013. The proposed operating budget will be on the agenda Monday night for the Common Council’s required vote of approval.