Due to the pandemic, City Councilors, like myself, are reviewing the budget for this current fiscal year, July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021. This is my first year as a City Councilor in reviewing the budget. It brings me lots of excitement as I know every dollar matters to the residents to be spent fiscally smart. My background includes my undergraduate degree from Bentley University, MBA from Boston University, and my nine years in finance/budgeting. I love looking at numbers to tell a story of how the chief executive using the funds puts their priorities in.
When I reviewed this budget, my initial questions include:
Assessors: Why is the budget for the Assessors’ Office increasing by 47% in what is, as far as I can tell from looking at the budgets for previous years, not a valuation year. Wasn’t that done in FY2018?
Technology: How are we going to improve technology this year for the city?
Planning: What are the programs being offered and funding to assist residents with home improvements, landlords, home-ownership assistance, and tenants related issues?
The proposed fiscal year 2021 school budget is a finely nuanced compendium of carefully calibrated decreases and increases totaling $88.2 million in expenditures as opposed to last year’s $87.8 million.
That is a -1.73% reduction in spending from last year or $1.5 million.
The four major decreased line items in the budget are: the elimination of student handbooks, a $50,000 savings; Special Education Tuition down $1.7 million to $5.3 million; Gateway to College Program down $75,000 at $100,000; and Maintenance and Custodial General Expenses, which are down $497,000 to $2.3 million.
Two major increases in spending are projected for Special Education Personnel expenditures expected to come in at $13.6 million, up by $1.7 million and Instructional General Expenses $1.6 million, up by $239,000.
Special Education Transportation comes in at $4.2 million, down $300,000 from 2020.
Without fanfare or debate, the city council officially approved the 2020 city budget Monday night.
Also approved, is a $16.4 million General Fund Request, money which will be used to fund a variety of capital improvements throughout the city.
The $16.4 million will be borrowed at the same time other city debt is being retired.
The borrowing does not impact directly on the windfall of money about to hit the city treasury. The loans will be paid back like any other – from month to month with interest until they are gone. The first quarterly payment of about $6 million from Wynn Resorts will shortly be deposited neatly into the city treasury.
The borrowings for sidewalk repairs, design services, and for park construction and Everett Square improvements, among others, will set the city back $16.4 million any way one chooses to look at it.
The Everett School Department presented to the mayor and to the city council a $85 million spending budget for 2020 at the joint convention Monday night.
The School Department budget reflected the collaborative thinking of school administrators and leadership with the administration. Discussions that took place prior to the budget presentation appeared to assure the School Department that it will be getting exactly what it asked for.
In talks shared around the city council table came the admonishment that no additional funding would become available during the year for the schools – and the budget figure that acting Superintendent of Schools Janet Gauthier presented would be met.