UPDATE: includes proposed budget here. Mayor Bill Finch has submitted a $522,966,587 spending plan to the City Council that calls for a modest hike of just under one mil representing a roughly $120 tax increase on the average city homeowner if approved by the city’s budget-making body. The council will officially receive the budget at its regularly scheduled session Monday night. The budget year begins July 1. The current year’s budget is $517,105,830.
The mayor’s budget was filed with the City Clerk on Wednesday. The council has historically trimmed back the mayor’s proposal so the tax increase could be less depending on action taken by the council’s Budget and Appropriations Committee chaired by Finch supporters Sue Brannelly and Mike Marella.
Sometimes the penultimate election year budget is more critical to an incumbent’s reelection fortunes. If taxes are raised too high a year before, an incumbent risks an electorate breaking point even if holding the line in an election year. So the mayor is hoping a small increase will bolster his reelection chances next year. This, however, would be the third consecutive tax increase of Finch’s second four-year term.
The Budget and Appropriations Committee will spend the next two months reviewing the mayor’s proposal before voting on the budget and sending it to the full council. The spending plan then goes back to the mayor for possible veto action before the council sets the mil rate in June.
According to the budget plan, spending increases are driven largely by additional police and fire personnel including 21 police officers and 16 firefighters who had been covered under federal grants. The city is also making an additional $1.6 million contribution to the Board of Education. The state finances most of the education budget. “City budget complies with mandated state MBR (minimum budget requirement) statute,” according to the budget document.
The budget also reflects a $10.10 minimum wage for all employees on the city side of the budget covering approximately 125 employees.
School spending (43.7 percent) and public safety (29.2 percent) comprise the largest spending items in the budget. The 1.87 percentage budget increase is less than most area municipalities, according to the budget summary.