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Arrigo administration presents $240 million operating budget

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Proposed operating budget $14 million higher than in FY22

  The City Council’s Ways and Means Subcommittee began its review of Mayor Brian Arrigo’s proposed Fiscal Year 2023 operating budget of just under $240 million on Wednesday afternoon. Richard Viscay, the city’s finance director, presented an overview of the budget, and the subcommittee heard presentations on several department budgets, including the mayor’s office, human resources, the innovation and data management office, purchasing, auditing and the treasurer/collector.

  An additional five subcommittee meetings are scheduled over the next week, with the subcommittee scheduled to hold its final FY23 budget discussion and recommendations for the full City Council on Thursday, June 16.

  The proposed operating budget is about $14 million higher than the $225 million operating budget passed by the City Council for FY22. “The FY23 budget is a responsible, balanced budget that continues to bring back staffing and services that were lost due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic,” said Viscay.

  The proposed budget is made up of the general fund, which totals $206,953,284, and the water/sewer and solid waste enterprise funds, which total $33.7 million, for a total of $239,690,838. In the general fund, the city side of the budget is $46.3 million, the school total is $110.8 million and the fixed costs, which are costs such as health insurance and pension costs shared by the city and the schools, is $48.8 million.

  Viscay pointed out some of the overall highlights of the budget, including the creation of a new Talent and Culture department in the general government account, as well as settled union contracts with labor and management units within city government.

  For public safety, Viscay said the city settled a new three-year contract with the firefighters’ union and E911 employees, with bargaining in progress for the police patrol and superior officers contracts ongoing. Viscay said there is $500,000 being held in the mayor’s budget as a contingency fund to pay for anticipated costs associated with a settled contract. “We do have a particular interest for funding training in public safety and maintaining of staffing levels for our uniformed police and fire departments,” said Viscay. “It is a key component of the administration’s commitment to public safety.”

  On the school side of the budget, Viscay noted that transportation costs have skyrocketed, and that it is an issue that the city government and the schools are working together to try to address.

  In the public works department, Viscay said the DPW contract is still open, and construction of a new $25 million public works facility is slated to get underway soon.

  In the culture and recreation budget, the city has created a new travel and tourism department funded by American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, and there is increased funding for the library. The library will see improvements to the facility in the coming year, as well as a new bookmobile, which Viscay said will improve access to books and other library services for residents.

  Viscay also pointed to some good news on the typically onerous health insurance costs for the city, stating that health insurance rates are level funded with a zero percent increase for FY23. In addition, he said the city has successfully negotiated a change in health insurance benefits with the Public Employees Commission that will go into effect for FY25. The employee contribution for health insurance will increase from 20 percent to 22.5 percent in exchange for a .75 percent raise that will go into effect on the last day of FY24.

  Ways and Means Subcommittee Chair Dan Rizzo worked steadily through the department budget presentations scheduled for Wednesday, and the majority of the focus was on the various department goals and achievements, with some questions asked about small amounts of money that were largely being transferred between various departments.

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