City budget still a riddle

Everett City Hall. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)

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.

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We need to question the cities budget

Almost seven weeks into the fiscal year, and we have not seen the City of Everett Budget yet.

One might well ask: “What is this all about?”

Where is that rascal hiding?

Most of the surrounding cities have had their FY2021 spending plans posted for weeks.

No Everett.

A quick comparison of Everett’s budget with Medford’s reveals something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Everett has a population of 46,880 and covers 3.67 square miles.

Medford has a population of 57,765 and covers a land area of 8.66 square miles.

Medford’s FY 2021 total budget is $184,479,028.00, which represents a $2.7 million dollar increase over the FY 2020 amount ($181,786,680.00).

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It’s all sleight of hand numbers game in City Hall

A view of Everett City Hall. (Photo By Jim Mahoney)

By JOSH RESNEK

Executive Office of the Mayor

The FY2020 budget amount was $1,479,681.

The FY 2021 budgeted amount was $903,144, which is a $576,537 (39%) decrease in spending.

How was this accomplished?

By cutting personnel costs.

The salary for Kevin O’Donnell’s part-time job was reduced from $80,000 per year to $40,000 per year. This appears to be a Draconian cut.

The position was reclassi- fied from “Chief of Staff” to “Advisor to the Mayor”.

But do not forget, this is for 18.5 hours per week.

How many Everett residents or city employees would love the opportunity to make $40,000 per year working 18.5 hours per week?

Since there is no longer a Chief of Staff, they do not need a Deputy Chief of Staff.

That position has been eliminated, as has the Grant Writer position, the Affordable Housing Coordinator position, and the one full-time and the part-time Constituent Services aide positions.

The Constituent Services/311 Coordinator got a small increase.

Every other salary in the Mayor’s Office was cut, except – and this should come as no surprise – for the Mayor’s salary. He picked up a $10,000 increase in salary.

This is just the personnel portion of the Mayor’s Office budget.

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The city is broke

It is hard to imagine how Everett can be broke after a four month shutdown but it is.

It is impossible to imagine how the mayor spent $30 million – Encore’s first payment to the city – in an orgy of public spending last year.

This year, with Encore behind in payments to the city of about $13 million and growing, with receipts down, with tax payments down, with costs rising, it is easy to see how badly the mayor miscalculated the coming of the casino and econom- ic freedom.

His economic mismanagement of the city’s revenue base has led to a first and second round of layoffs and salary cuts.

In the short term future, we can expect more of the same.

In the meantime, the mayor has already embarked on the game he plays best – that is – blaming others for his own in- competency.

Chief Operating Officer of the city Eric Demas has already met with the mayor’s displeasure described to anyone who will listen behind closed doors.

Demas, for a while, was like one of those working in Trump’s cabinet only to find themselves being marginalized when things got tough.

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Encore reopening important step for city’s financial future

Encore Boston Harbor casino and resort July 18, 2020. (Photo by Jim Mahoney)

BY JOSH RESNEK

Encore has successfully traversed the new normal we are all living with by opening for a full week following a four-month shutdown due to the Coronavirus.

While the jury remains out on exactly how successful a week it was, company officials are ebullient that the casino and hotel have reopened, and that a semblance of normalcy has returned to the gaming floor and hotel.

The casino is open 24/7. The hotel has reopened four days a week – Thursday through Sunday.

This translates into positive news for Everett City Hall.

Encore’s in lieu of tax payment to the city brings in $30 million yearly according to the host agreement.

Encore closed, and the city cannot survive financially in its present iteration.

Encore open and doing business, well, that’s a reason for relief, at least for the moment.

Encore has rehired as many as several thousand employees – or called them back after furloughing them – in order to meet the crush of new and costly COVID-19 regulations.

Casino analysts point out that the cost of doing business right now for Encore, and all casinos in the region, is weighted down by the heavy price for having so many employees to watch over hygienic issues when so few people are tending to come to the reopened casinos.

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