The City Council swiftly approved a compromise municipal budget tonight, overriding a but restoring several administrative positions cut on the .
The budget as approved appropriates $42,323,256 for the municipal budget and $40,626,405 for the . The mill rate increases by 1.91 from 25.31 to 27.22, a 7.53 percent increase.
Funding for a total of 19 municipal positions is being cut, with those employees retiring or losing their jobs. These include nine positions in the , six positions in the , and two information technology positions. The , with those duties assumed by Chief Administrative Officer Jane Glover.
The council unanimously voted to overturn a veto of the municipal budget by Mayor Daryl Finizio in order to both set the tax rate and make appropriations for the 2013 fiscal year, which begins on July 1. The council also voted 5-2 to make a pair of funds transfers which will preserve the five administrative positions which were defunded.
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“I think it’s a watershed moment for the council and the city,” said Council President Michael Passero.
“I am pleased the council and the administration could reach an amicable resolution to move forward,” said Finizio.
Prior budget decisions
On May 29, the council approved a $42,466,252 municipal budget and $40,626,405 budget for the schools. The municipal budget included several line item transfers to increase the budgets of the and to avoid the elimination of 51 positions—including —anticipated in those departments. The transfer took away funding for the salaries of the deputy police chief, mayor’s office administrator, assistant city clerk, director of the Office of Development and Planning, and risk manager.
The budget passed 5-2 on its , 4-3 on its , and 6-1 on its final reading.
Finizio vetoed the municipal budget on June 13, saying it over-estimated revenues by $265,000, tried to remove funds from positions it does not have the authority to defund, eliminated funds for “critical” administrative positions, and “dramatically” adjustd the budget to avoid public safety layoffs. Along with the veto, Finizio announced that the city has reached tentative agreements with the fire and police unions that will avoid layoffs without the need to eliminate funding for other positions.
Under the first funds transfer approved by the council, $342,622 was taken from the fire budget. A total of $199,626 was used to restore funding cut from other positions, while the remaining $142,996 was used to reduce the expenditures.
This resolution specifically replenished $51,626 for the mayor’s office, $94,000 for the , and $54,000 for the assistant city clerk.
The council voted 4-2 in favor of the transfer, with Council President Wade Hyslop and Councilors Donald Macrino, Anthony Nolan, and Adam Sprecace in favor. Councilors Marie Friess-McSparran and John Maynard were opposed. Passero, a firefighter, recused himself from the vote.
The second funds transfer took $429,065 from intergovernmental revenues and $100 from miscellaneous revenue and transferred $276,500 to charges for services, $8,819 to fines and penalties, and $850 to taxes ad valorem. The remaining $142,996 went toward reducing expenditures.
The council voted 5-2 in favor of the resolution, with Hyslop, Macrino, Nolan, Passero, and Sprecace in favor and Friess-McSparran and Maynard opposed.
Passero said he was “absolutely relieved” to complete the budget.
“It was depressing to think we were going to have to start from scratch again,” he said.
Passero said the council has had to make several cuts in order to make up for lost revenue, but said the council and administration would commit to increasing revenues and the grand list. He said he hopes the groundbreaking on the development, scheduled for this year at Fort Trumbull, will prove an economic boost to the city.
Passero also urged residents to take a close look at the budget. He said it represents a compromise between the first proposed by Finizio as necessary to preserve the level of city services and the interests of residents who have said they believe taxes are already too high. He said several surrounding communities have also encountered increased taxes in this fiscal year.
“It doesn’t get any better than this for the city,” he said.
Sprecace said he thinks the mill rate increase is fair given the loss of expected revenue.
“I’m pleased to see we ended up at a position we expected to end up at,” he said.
Friess-McSparran said she was glad to arrive at an end point in the budget process. However, she said she thought the taxpayers would have appreciated a reduction in taxes through elimination of funds for the administrative positions. She said she expects the council will have to reconsider that issue if the budget is challenged by referendum.
“I just think that instead of putting the positions in, we should have lowered the budget by that amount,” she said.
Original breaking news:
The City Council has approved an approximately $83 million budget which restores administrative positions cut at the budget's third reading.
The council voted unanimously to override Mayor Daryl Finizio's veto of the budget, but also voted 5-2 in two separate votes to transfer funds from other accounts to restore salaries that had been eliminated for several administrative positions.
A full story will be posted tonight.
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