10 weeks late, few have keys to unlock mysteries for how taxpayer’s money to be spent
By JOSH RESNEK
The veil of secrecy has finally been lifted.
The city’s 2021 budget has been uploaded to the city’s website.
Eric Demas, the city’s Chief Financial Officer, who doubles as the mayor’s Minister of Financial Propaganda, has finally posted the city’s budget to the City of Everett’s website.
Only ten weeks after the start of the fiscal year, Demas has produced what he would likely call, “a masterpiece.”
Like a mystery thriller novel, only he and the mayor have the keys to unlock its secrets to taxpayers.
Not bad for government work, that is, the convoluted budget ten weeks late.
The newly elected Mayor of Taunton managed to present her budget to the Taunton City Council on June 2, 2020, a little late, but well in advance of the July 1st start of the fiscal year.
It appears there are two Everett city budgets.
When we refer to the City of Everett Budget, we need to be very careful about what version of the budget we are talking about.
Is it the budget that was posted to the City of Everett website on or about September 9th?
To avoid that confusion, we will call it the September Final Budget.
Is it the same budget that was sent only to the City Council on September 2nd?
We will refer to this one as the Early September Budget.
Or is it the 1/12 spending plan that was sent to the City Council in early July or the July Budget?
It is odd that the personnel portion of each department’s budget lists only a position name, the number of employees in that position, and the salary amounts.
Each department head submits the budget request for the current fiscal year. That budget request lists each position and the name of each employee occupying that position along with their salary.
On page 7 of the Early September Budget, the personnel section of the City Council (Department #111) budget does, in fact, list the names of each employee along with their position and salary.
This information is a matter of public record.
Why then is that information not provided to the City Council or to Everett taxpayers?
The information is purposely not provided so that the head of what Councilor Mike Marchese calls the Demaria Crime Family (DCF) can move his loyal supporters and coconspirators to other departments without leaving much of a paper trail.
The third iteration of the FY2021 budget, the September Final Budget, posted to the website on or about September 9 is like trying to read tea leaves.
A budget in jest only
A review of the budget reveals an underlying theme.
In the corporate world it might be justifiably referred to as “JK” – that is, “just kidding.”
In the July Budget, which was not released to the public, many positions were reduced or eliminated. However, in the September Final Budget, they are all – or at least mostly – back in the budget. The people laid off will not be rehired. The effort had one intended result in mind, and that was the mayor’s plan, to get rid of good, hard working and talented people to make room for his cronies and supporters to feed at the public trough.
Deciphering six city department budgets
Department #121 Executive Office of the Mayor
The FY2020 budget amount was $1,479,681. The FY 2021 budgeted amount from the July Budget was $903,144, which was a $576,537 (39%) decrease in spending. However, the September Final Budget has the Mayor’s Office back up to $1,126,499, which is a modest $353,182 (23.86%) cut from the FY2020 budget.
The Mayor’s Office achieved this reduction by cutting personnel costs. Kevin O’Donnell has been moved from the Mayor’s Office to the Human Resources Department, with a hefty salary increase. They do plan on hiring a new Chief of Staff at a $120,000 per year salary. Other salary cuts have been restored and five positions: Deputy Chief of Staff, Grant Writer, Affordable Housing Coordinator, Weekend 311 Coordinator and Constituent Services aid have still been eliminated. The July Budget increased the Mayor’s salary by almost $10,000 and the September Final Budget gave the Mayor an additional $3,700 increase. He is now in the $190,000 a year range.
Department #151 Office of the City Solicitor
The Office of the City Solicitor is not supposed to function as the mayor’s personal law firm – and yet it does. The city solicitor’s office is supposed to represent the City. The September Final Budget provides for no raise for the City Solicitor this year, but the Records Access Officer stipend of $9,400 that was eliminated in the July Budget, is back in the September Final Budget. And she is worth every penny of that $122,000 plus annual paycheck. The September Final Budget still eliminates the Assistant City Solicitor position. However, Assistant City Solicitor Keith Slattery’s sinecure of $90,519 is paid by the Inspectional Services Department. There is also the matter of payments made to outside attorneys which are believed to be in the $1 million range or more.
Department #161 Office of the City Clerk
The City Clerk received a salary in FY2020 of $113,576. The September Final Budget increases his salary to $118,923 and restores his Records Access Officer stipend of $7,200 per year.
Department #610 Everett Public Libraries
The September Final Budget eliminates the Director position and Attorney Mr. Lattanzi will continue to serve as Assistant City Solicitor/Interim Library Director. His $73,440 salary in the July Budget has been increased to $82,071 in the September Final Budget. The seven full-time positions that were eliminated in the July Budget have been restored in the September Final Budget, but do not look for any familiar faces to be back at the Everett Public Libraries. Those open positions have undoubtedly been earmarked from FOC’s (Friends of Carlo). Additionally, some of the money to pay part-time employees has been added back in the budget.
The Board of Library Trustees stipend of $26,200 is still in the budget. The big question remains unanswered: since the mayor and his supporters on the City Council rammed through the amendment to the City’s Administrative Code last year, the Board of Trustees has no direct oversight power over library operations. The responsibility is clearly under the mayor’s purview. The only power that the Board of Trustees has is to determine how the interest generated by the Parlin Trust will be spent. Does it seem wasteful for the City to spend $26,200 on trustees’ stipends to administer how the City spends $5,000 or $6,000 in interest?
There is also a little bit of padding in the libraries’ budget. One line item is $16,000 for tuition reimbursement. Question: If all of the professional staff at the libraries have Master of Library Science degrees, what is the purpose of this line item? The budget also includes a $1,700 line item for Professional Development for “MBLC work- shops and programs”, which is rather odd, since all MBLC programs are free of charge. Is the Mayor squirrelling away money in various pots so that he can have a mid-fiscal year reprogram of unused funds to create a new position for one or six of his cronies?
Department #630 Health and Wellness
The financial sleight of hand continues in the mysterious Health & Wellness Department. The July Budget eliminated nine positions and paired the personnel budget down to $106,333. The FY2020 personnel budget for this department was $424,438. That was a 74.94% cut, which was achieved by eliminating nine of the eleven department positions. But somehow, the September Final Budget included funding for five positions (with seven positions eliminated and with a net gain of one position). Presto! The personnel budget for the Health & Wellness Department is now back up to a robust $302,634.