You talk to City Council members and they’ll tell you the state’s budget process has more moving parts right now than a shell game. How they vote on the budget will be a leap of faith based on what they expect the city to receive in state funds. The council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee is reviewing Mayor Bill Finch’s $520 million spending proposal. No definitive date has been set for a budget committee vote and then a full vote by the council. The time frame for a full council vote is two to three weeks.
The city received some good news last week when a state legislative budget committee restored some cuts to the city in Governor Dan Malloy’s spending plan. A new wrinkle, however, has been added to the budget deliberations regarding the minimum budget requirement the city must kick in to maximize state education dollars. Some council members say even if the city receives most of what it expects in state funding the taxpayers will still be facing an average tax increase of about $200 to $300, rather than the $400 average increase based in Finch’s budget proposal. That still leaves many higher assessed homeowners in neighborhoods such as Black Rock, Brooklawn and North End facing hefty tax increases.
Other council members say there are areas of the budget such as police overtime and payments to outside legal firms that can be cut back by millions of dollars. Do council members have the will to make those cuts? This is an election year for the council and how this budget process shakes out will determine how many of them have challengers.