Sunday, May 15, 2011

City of Newburyport Budget Process

The City Council will begin reviewing the Mayor's proposed budget on Monday, May 23 at City Hall.

Information on the budget is posted at:

Here is the Mayor's letter to the Council:

May 9, 2011

Dear City Council President and City Councilors:

Submitted herewith is the Mayor's proposed budget for the City of Newburyport for fiscal
year 2012. The budget includes General Fund operating budget including education
(Newburyport Public Schools and Whittier Regional Technical School) and Enterprise
Funded Departments (Water, Sewer and Harbormaster).

The Fiscal Year 2012 General Fund budget of $49,144,810 is an increase of 1.4 million
or 0.95%, over the FY 2010 budget excluding 32B insurance adjustments. This budget
is balanced with projected FY12 General Fund Revenues of $49,145,694, which
includes the use of $500,000 in General Stabilization Funds and $200,000 from Free
Cash. The combined stabilization account balance is $2,422,867 ($499,758 from
the capital stabilization fund and $1,921,867 general stabilization). Based on a
budget of $49,144,810, this will reduce the balance in our stabilization accounts
to 4.93% of our operating budget, .07% below the recommended City Council
threshold. With continuing cuts in both c.70 and local aid and budget reductions in
every possible area, there was no other means to balance this year's budget. It is
anticipated with new revenues streams (paid parking and meals tax), as well as new
growth and free cash certification in the fall we will be able to return this account to the
5% level.

While property taxes will remain stable with the allowed 2Yz% increase under the
guidelines of Proposition 2Yz or $989,345, other local revenues demonstrate
conservative projections which may improve as the economy shows signs of recovery.
Specifically, new growth, payment in lieu of taxes, motor vehicle taxes and investment
income are projected to be flat or slightly decreased. Please refer to the attached
revenue charts for additional details.

These decreases in our state aid, school funding and estimated local revenues, along
with increased healthcare costs, left us with a significant projected shortfall of nearly 3.5
million for the upcoming year. To address this, every line item was reviewed carefully
and staffing cuts were necessary for both the city and schools. These staffing cuts were
identified that would have the least impact and resulted in 6.2 position cuts in the
schools and 1.5 position cuts in the city with an additional 2.5 positions not being filled.
Supplies and other expenses were also reduced across the board to the greatest
expense possible. In addition, although I am grateful to the City Council for the increase
in the Mayor's salary, I have deferred the additional increase of $10,000 for this year.

On a positive note, the library is funded to the required level to maintain certification; this
is a very high priority for the community. Additionally, COLA raises of 2% were awarded
for this past year to Teamsters and AFCSME employees as they had not received raises
in many years. In exchange, significant progress was made in accepting job
descriptions, evaluations, and greater parity across union contracts. This decision was
also based on the $700,000 of tax title revenues and 100 properties back on tax rolls.
The remaining two years of these contracts are allocated at 0%. We are continuing to
work with the Fire Fighters to finalize contract negotiations. The Patrolmen's and
Superior Officers Unions of the Police Department and Patrolmen's union have begun
contract negotiations. The Police Department will go another year with out filling open
positions, leaving them down a total of 4 officers from FY09.

The school department received level funding plus 1.4% increase for a total of
$21,902,865. This increase was insufficient to prevent staff cuts this year or begin to
replace programs that have been cut over the past several years. It continues to be my
priority to ensure that Newburyport Schools remain strong and thereby ensure that our
community remains strong. The Whittier Regional Technical School's assessment
decreased by $79,902 to $328,294. Whittier is a resource for our community that is
clearly underutilized. Following tours of the facility by School Committee members and
several City Councilors I am hopeful we can focus renewed efforts to improve
information and marketing of this school option to the community.

We will continue to work with our Recycling and Energy Coordinator to implement
energy savings initiatives as recommended through our Green Community's grant,
participation in the regional ESCO, and Energy Advisory Committee. Although a plan to
reduce energy and costs through a streetlight reduction program was shifted through
additional research and consulting services, we anticipate implementing a new plan this
fiscal year.

In regards to capital planning, we are in the final phases of prioritizing a comprehensive
plan that will be presented to you under separate cover in early June. The priorities are
the IT plan and vehicles for the Department of Public Services Highway Division.

Although this was a very difficult budget process, I am confident that the FY12 budget
will continue to allow us to provide the services and the quality of work that our
taxpayers deserve. We will assess the free cash status once certified to determine if we
can use these funds in a supplemental budget request to restore funding in any
necessary areas and rebuild our reserve account to the 5% level.

As you begin the review process, you will note that the budget notebooks are organized
differently this year by divisions: General Administration, Finance, Public Safety,
Planning, Social Services, Public Services, Education, and Enterprise Funds. Each
section contains Department narratives with a status report on goals and objectives for
fiscal year 2011, goals and objectives for fiscal year 2012, organizational charts, and
proposed budgets. The Department Heads have worked diligently on these
presentations and look forward to sharing with the Council highlights of this past year as
well as their proposed budgets. We look forward to working with you and responding to
recommendations, issues and concerns as you review the budget for fiscal year 2012.

In closing, I would like to express my sincerest appreciation to the employees and
retirees of the city that stepped up in very short time frame to approve adjustments to
our Health Insurance. The negative impact to the budget for both the schools and city
would have been significantly greater without their supportive vote.

Finally, to staff, Andrew Flanagan, Director of Policy and Administration, Lois Honegger,
Executive Aide, Bill Squillace, City Auditor, Barbara Neelon, Assistant City Auditor, and
Jenny Lamarre, Human Resources Coordinator, they worked tirelessly with me on
developing this budget. Their skill, professionalism and input were exceptional and I am
very grateful for their support and optimism as we worked together through this difficult
budget process.

Thank you.


Donna D. Holaday

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