Acting Mayor Keefe presents $262,131,833 million budget
By Barbara Taormina
The Revere City Council Ways and Means Subcommittee held their final meeting to review acting Mayor Patrick Keefe’s 2024 municipal budget proposal.
Like earlier meetings, city department heads gave brief presentations of their individual department’s accomplishments for 2023, their plans and goals for 2024, and any changes in their budgets. City CFO Richard Viscay again called the mostly level-funded department budgets “vanilla,” with no new initiatives or controversies.
The $262,131,833 million budget has been presented with a list of highlights that city officials say will benefit the community. Topping that list is the addition of 11 new firefighters, five new police officers, the point of Pines Fire station and new equipment for first responders. Budget announcements also tout the new public works facility, new public works management jobs, and plans for sidewalk repairs and street paving.
Chief of Health and Human Services Lauren Buck described the work done by the city’s public health department in 2023 which included several covid testing and vaccination programs.
Committee members praised the department but questioned the cut of one staff member from the SUDHI (substance use disorder and Homeless Initiatives) office. Buck explained the position was grant funded and the funding did not allow for the type of work the city needs.
“We’re trying to be as efficient and effective with funds as possible,” said Buck adding the SUDHI program needs more outreach.
Still, Ways and Means Subcommittee Chairman Gerry Visconti suggested there must be more grant money available for this type of work and he and other committee members urged Buck to find it for Revere.
Buck also presented the budget for the Elder Affairs department which launched 12 new programs for seniors this year. Committee members praised Director of Elder Services Deb Peczka and supported the department’s level funded budget.
The committee also recognized the work done by the Veterans Services department and Veterans Services Officer Marc Silvestri and the department’s support staff.
“If you look up the job description of the veterans’ services officer, you’ll see our VSO does so much more and he’ll never speak about it,” said Ward 1 Councillor Joanne McKenna.
Ways and Means Committee members also praised the Disabilities Commission, the Office of Consumer Affairs, and the library for various new programs and services provided to residents.
Michael Hinojosa, director of the Parks and Recreation Department explained the city was merging his department and the Travel and Tourism Department. But city councillors focused their questions on the Haas Health and Wellness Center set to open toward the end of the summer. Visconti asked if the center will be able to cover its budget with membership fees. Hinojosa said the city is hoping the center will take in $1 million a year for memberships and special programs.
Councillors did express some concerns about the building and the amount of rent the city was paying for it.
School Superintendent Diane Kelly gave a brief presentation of the School Department’s $124 million budget. Kelly explained the benefits of different channels of state and federal funding and how the department was tucking away funds to keep staff on board once the grant funding dries up.