June 15 2018,  Revere

Council budget talks begin

By Sara Brown

 

The budding of trees and warm spring breezes signify that time of the year when budget season hits the City Council Chamber.

The Revere City Council held their first Ways and Means Subcommittee meeting on June 12 to discuss the FY19 budget. The proposed budget this year is a little more than $206 million, which is an increase of last year’s budget of $180 million.

Councillor-at-Large and Ways and Means Subcommittee Chairman Dan Rizzo’s biggest complaint about the budget was that he received it the morning of the Ways and Means Subcommittee meeting. By law, Mayor Brian Arrigo must provide a copy of the budget to the City Council by June 20, but in recent years it has been the custom to provide a copy of the budget to the council on June 1. “I would have liked more time with it before the meeting,” he said.

Ward 6 Councillor Charles Patch wondered why there were no names listed with salaries in the budget.

“This is the most transparent budget you have ever seen,” said City Auditor Richard Viscay. “This isn’t a political process. If salaries need to be cut, they can be cut based upon position. Putting names in there becomes finger-pointing. I don’t believe that’s what we are here for.”

However, Patch said sometimes it’s good to have the names in there because a position or person could be forgotten and the council can check it.

Councillor-at-Large Steve Morabito said he looked over the last four fiscal year city budgets and only one of them listed names.

However, Council Vice President Joanne McKenna said she would have liked to see names linked with positions. “It’s a matter of public record,” she said. “I don’t see what the big deal is. We would never discriminate based on salary. It would be nice to see who is making what.”

The council started to meet with department heads, including Veterans Services Director Marc Silvestri. The director said he would like some more money in the budget for his department to do more with the events the department produces. He wants to have more coffee for veterans’ events as well as be able to do more events on their own without the help of other organizations.

A few months ago the council passed a motion by Morabito offering a veterans tax abatement if they volunteer with the city. Morabito wondered if there was money in the budget for that.

Silvestri said there still needs to be serious discussion regarding the program and who will they offer it to, how many jobs will there be and many other variables. “There are some numbers we need to crunch,” he said.

The council’s Ways and Means Subcommittee will begin budget hearings on Tuesday, June 12, Wednesday, June 20, and Thursday, June 21 with final discussions and recommendations to the City Council on Monday, June 25 beginning at 4 p.m.

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