First-ever committee on long-term finances begins meeting
With the election of a new Council President each year comes the tradition of assignments to City Council Committees, where much of the debate and vetting is done on City Council papers. This year, the election of Councillor-at-Large Craig Spadafora as City Council President saw the creation of several new committees, including one focused on long-term critical financial challenges facing the city.
“Each year, we spend a lot of time focusing on short-term finances through the budget and day to day council business,” commented Spadafora. “However, some of the most critical items facing the city just don’t get the focus they need because they don’t necessary require a decision today. This new committee is charged with a dedicated focus on these matters so that our short-term planning is done with the full knowledge of the long-term issues facing the city.”
Spadafora recently asked that Chief Strategy Officer Ron Hogan provide an overview of the top items that will be the focus of this new committee. From the city’s OPEB liability of over $200 million, to an escalating pension payment, to a school funding formula that leaves Malden disadvantaged as compared to other communities, the public was given a preview of the critical financial matters facing the city in the coming years. “Each of these topics on their own is complex,” stated the City Council President, adding, “I expect this new Committee to start by creating an educated awareness of the topic, followed by discussion and ideas of steps we can and should take today to plan for the impact of these.”
Spadafora’s goal seems to be to ground the city in the reality of what is coming financially, perhaps as important now as ever during a time of unprecedented federal spending that could lead cities and towns to lose discipline. The formulation of committees each year is one area where a City Council President can really relay to the public the goals of the council presidency, and Spadafora has sent a clear message that one of his priorities is to make sure city officials are always keeping their eyes on the future of the city beyond the next year or two.