The City Council passed a for the 2011-2012 year on Tuesday evening. The expenditures, split between municipal services and the , were opposed by Deputy Mayor John Russell.
“Let’s put it this way: it was a silent, almost silent protest,” said Russell. “There’s certain things I would like to see done.”
Russell said he felt that the budget had not been as thorough this year, saying Finance Director Jim Lathrop presented PowerPoint presentations and other more in-depth discussions for the 2010-2011 budget. Russell said he also felt the budget did not bring capital expenditures up for a vote, suggesting that the city might have to bond $14-15 million for such projects, and criticized the Board of Education.
“Until there’s some accountability from that end, I wouldn’t vote to give them anything,” he said. “I’m not happy at all with the way our Board of Education is operating…All I see from them is roadblocks.”
Russell was the sole opponent among the six city councilors present. Michael Buscetto III was not at the meeting.
Councilor Adam Sprecace said capital expenditures are typically presented as a plan on what projects the city would like to complete and how much money should be spent on them. Councilor Rob Pero, who chairs the Finance Committee, said capital expenditures are one-time expenditures which should not be included in the budget itself since it will lead to an increase in the mill rate.
Pero also said the budget includes a debt service item, which amounted to $5,537,729 this year, for long-term payments including capital projects. He questioned why Russell brought up his opposition on the final vote and did not discuss his concerns before the vote was taken or at other meetings.
“He didn’t come to any of the [Finance Committee] meetings,” said Pero. “He came to one and left early.”
The Board of Education represents the largest portion of the budget with an appropriation of $39,817,405. That district, which had requested $40,471,333, earlier in May. The main changes involved in the updated budget will include the district assuming operation of the and transferring several staffers there.
The municipal budget cut most of the , including the for six new police officers and a lieutenant and the for a deputy chief. The budget does expand the municipal payroll, adding a full-time crime analyst and part-time clerical worker to the , a full-time accounting technician to the , and a part-time accountant to the .
The council voted unanimously to set the mill rate at 25.31, which retains the current mill rate, with taxes due and payable on July 1 and January 1. The council also voted unanimously to delay a vote on funding for the City Center District until the next meeting on June 6 since the items did not appear on public notices for the special meeting. The items ask if the council will approve an annual $100,000 appropriation to the City Center District for 2011-2012 and approve an appropriation ordinance for the City Center District.