Four years ago City Councilman Scott Burns was handed a canary in a coal mine. He was budget co-chair during implementation of revaluation of taxable property that had been put off by Mayor Joe Ganim’s predecessor Bill Finch to avoid an apoplectic 2015 reelection cycle.
Ganim won anyway. Burns walked into a hornets’ nest of voters from his own neighborhood in Black Rock who were mauled by the redistribution of property tax assessments. It was angry and noisy.
Burns was sent packing in two years, but he persevered. He’s now back on the council as co-chair of the Budget & Appropriations Committee, replacing the recently resigned Maria Viggiano, in what shapes up to be a kinder, gentler process, assuming Ganim fulfills a 2019 reelection pledge to avoid a tax hike when he submits his budget proposal to the council first week in April.
City Council President Aidee Nieves wanted to pair Michael DeFilippo with a co-chair who experienced the budget process.
The months of April and May are demanding for the seven-member budget committee, particularly the co-chairs who review the mayor’s spending plan, interview department heads and host public hearings. This budget process is also tracking to place priority funding for city schools short-changed the past four years.
So welcome back to the council budget world, Scott. And who knows maybe this time a Cheshire Cat instead of canary.