Tuesday, May 6, 2014

City Council gets the budget

I'm told that there is no printed City of Worcester budget as yet (and it is not yet online), but City Manager Augustus presents his FY15 budget tonight at Council. Live-blogging once we get there.
Thanks to Steve Foskett for link to the budget presentation here

Augustus: "I guess a lame duck is better than being a dead duck"
"reflecting the entire city's priorities...that's how our city lives"
thanks co-chairs of Joint Committee, thanks Superintendent Boone and her team
"get to a common understanding of the numbers"
thanks city-side budget staff
"One city approach to budget development"
"loss of growth in state funding for education, collaborative budget process for WPS and city"
fiscally responsible budget: five point plan
maintaining $10 million levy capacity
"could use a lot more money...but taxpayers of Worcester are struggling as so many are"
"tight budget, thin reserves"
schools are intricately involved with getting people to live here
increase in student enrollment leads to increase in student enrollment...seeing a levelling of student enrollment
good heavens: we have a WPS enrollment chart as part of the city's budget presentation...
"a huge drop, just from last year"
less than 0.5% increase in FY15
city service: no recovery on state aid for city since FY09
total net revenue increase of $9.5 million, which is a 1.7% increase from FY14
Property tax increase $10.8M (keeps $10M Levy)
• Local Receipts Increase Reflecting Activity in FY14, $860K
• Other Aid Increased Net $800K
• State Aid Increase for Education – $1M (including Charter Reimbursements), Compared to $9.5M in FY14
balancing priorities:
increase of $4.6 million to education "We certainly are going to meet that"
reinterpretation by state on Net School Spending meant city did not meet NSS for FY14 ('though it had been the intent when the budget was passed)
"recommendation to you is to put $1.1 million above required"
"that will not eliminate all of the financial challenges on the school side, by any stretch of the imagination"
balance remaining of $3M
$2.8M of fixed costs increases; leaves $200K for other needs
"I'll let the Superintendent and the School Committee speak to what the impact on the school side might be"
vacancy to remain in public safety: 10 in police, 20 in fire
police overtime funded at amount funded in FY14
keeps summer impacts
freezing as vacancies occur; hiring on a case-by-case basis as necessary
WPL funding via PILOT (increase of services this past year)
"a year where we're going to have to very closely managing...find ways to save money"
"looking for other places where we can find other savings to give us a little flexibility"
"hope and believe that this budget does reflect...does achieve an additional investment in the education of the children of the city of Worcester...no layoffs on city side...maintaining successes of City of Worcester"
"fiscally prudent budget"
"I would have loved to have had my first and last budget have overflowing coffers...this is our best effort."
"A fair budget, a responsible budget"
Coming in next Tuesday for first hearing
The next three Tuesdays are budget hearings. All begin at 4 pm. I'll type up the full list once we're done.

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