Nearly halfway through the budget year and the city is still trying to achieve the $2 million in employee concessions the City Council plugged into the budget in an effort to reduce Mayor Bill Finch’s proposed tax increase. Reluctant unionized employees say they’ve already given back plenty for previous budgets. Mayoral staffers say they’ve taken 6.5 unpaid furlough days to help cut into the number. What if the unions don’t step up again?
Finch has not been afraid to poise the layoff hammer in the past, or at least the threat of it. On Several occasions the city has issued layoff notices, even during the holidays, to send a message to achieve the concession savings.
While the city’s Labor Relations Department tries to close the gap with unions, bean counters are already working on the spending plan for the budget year that begins July 1, 2014. After the new year, department heads will submit their respective budgets to the Office of Policy and Management led by Tom Sherwood. And soon after the new year the finance department led by Anne Kelly-Lenz will begin to review information on real-estate holdings for the city’s ongoing state-mandated revaluation process that will be factored into the spending plan and eventual setting of the mil rate. This could be a dicey process for the mayor, bean counters and taxpayers. After two straight tax increases Finch wants as much financial peace as possible with his reelection on the horizon in 2015.
Sherwood’s office handles the spending side of the budget while Kelly-Lenz manages the revenue side and financial reporting. Finch will submit his budget proposal to the City Council the first week of April.