The City Council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee is examining each department budget for potential cuts as the days wind down to vote on Mayor Bill Finch’s $520 million spending plan that calls for a $400 tax increase for the average homeowner. Wednesday night council members debated a haircut for the mayor’s budget but moved on at the urging of City Council President Tom McCarthy, a city employee, who suggested caution to avoid a snippety catfight with the mayor.
Council members hope for the budget committee to cast a vote on the budget sometime by the weekend for a full City Council vote Monday night. So what’s on the table for cuts? Police overtime? Outside attorney fees? Has budget director Tom Sherwood padded any areas of the budget council members can cut in the name of saving face? Police overtime, for one, is a touchy subject. Each year the police overtime budget is in the millions and each year officials say they will do more to reel it in.
A number of city police officers say quietly part of the overtime problem stems from internal conspiracy scams. “You call out sick this week and I’ll call out sick next week.” Presto! Instant overtime.
City bean counters, led by Sherwood, are still trying to get their arms around just how much moolah will be coming from the state with some unfinished business and questions regarding education funding. The more revenue they can plug in, the less there is to cut.
Once the council votes on the budget it then goes back to the mayor for possible veto action. The council will set the mil rate in June.