Is the City Flush With Money or is it Broke?

By Joshua Resnek

I am beginning to hear from a wide variety of city officials who claim to know what you folks out there in the city are going to be hearing sooner rather than later.

What is it?

The city is not flush with money. In fact, the city is nearly broke – despite the coming of the casino – and that the administration will be attempting what some are calling huge funding cuts in order to make up the shortfall.

Mind you, no one has struck the panic button this early in the annual city hall funding game. But this is for certain, efforts are now underway to identify millions of dollars of school spending that city hall insists must be cut in order to balance the budget.

I’m like everyone else around here.

I expect the city treasury to be brimming with cash because of the huge multi-million payments made by Wynn Boston Harbor Casino to the city.

No way, I have been told by a number of city officials who wish to remain unnamed.

The city is just about dead broke after years of spending sprees.

However, no one in a position of responsibility can detail this situation to me without first getting permission to speak with me.

City officials in Everett can’t speak on the record unless the mayor’s media chief, Tom Philbin, is sitting by their side or has approved the parameters of the discussion.

That’s right.

The police chief can’t talk with me, nor the fire chief, nor the city solicitor, nor anyone in a position of leadership at city hall unless Philbin gives the OK. It probably gets worse than this but for the sake of this commentary, let’s keep it simple.

Back to the funding situation.

I have heard that the coming year and budget could mark the end of Everett public school children not having to pay fees to play sports.

In a city like ours, the imposition of fees to play sports would be a travesty considering the level of poverty and financial need that exists among many families living here who send their children to the public schools.

Everett is many things about achieving opportunities in sports but it is not Marblehead or Swampscott where kids playing all sports in those communities must come up with $300-$600 to play varsity sports or any sports at all levels.

The travesty becomes all the more real and perplexing when we can all see from many vantage points the Wynn hotel rising higher toward the sky and sensing this is all about a great coming success only to learn that with the casino we may lose free sports for our public school children.

Wanting to cut out school spending designed to give many of those who don’t have a chance the chance to succeed on sport playing fields, or with musical instruments, or with the many skills they get going to Everett’s schools, is an obscenity when we consider Mr. Wynn is spending $2.1 billion to come here to make hundreds of millions of dollars.

All of us have bought into the belief hook, line and sinker, that the Everett city treasury will be awash in money once the casino opens only to be told that even with an open casino the public schools are facing massive cuts of teachers, facilities, programs of all kinds and that the brilliant shining star of them all – the high school’s sporting programs will now become paid.

This folks, isn’t how it is supposed to be – and if you think it is how its supposed to be, well, don’t talk with Tom Philbin about it because he’s only saying what he is allowed to say and doing what he is allowed to do.

The harsh reality is this: talks are apparently already underway between the mayor and the superintendent of schools about the upcoming budgets.

The mayor is allegedly telling the superintendent that millions must be cut from the school department budget.

The superintendent has allegedly answered that this cannot be allowed to happen without dismantling what is best about the public schools.

I don’t know any of this for sure because I don’t want to ask Philbin for permission to talk with the mayor.

To date, I have not spoken with the superintendent about what the mayor allegedly has in the works for the school department.

Maybe I should do this sooner rather than later.

It is impossible to imagine the city being nearly broke with all the development and the casino coming in 2019.

Perhaps the mayor should take a closer look at bloated city hall spending with no show jobs for city hall employees who vote here but who don’t live here, jobs on top of jobs that are not needed, and favors allegedly made to friends in return for their loyalty and support.

Is the city broke?

That’s something I’m going to have to ask the mayor, but first I need to get Tom Philbin’s permission.

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