Fiorentini to Unveil $197 Million Spending Plan Tonight

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini is proposing a total city spending plan of $197 million for the year beginning July 1.

The amount includes $178,271,274 for general city services and education, $10,081,787 for sewer and $8,219,052 for water. In an address before Haverhill city councilors tonight, the mayor is expected is expected to focus on the core city budget, which includes a so-called “311” constituent services center.

“The key to a successful 311 call center is to have properly trained staff. A successful 311 call center is not a trip back to the future of switchboard operators transferring calls. In a successful 311 call center, the operators are trained to handle most of the problems and do not need to transfer the calls. For example, if the caller wants a pothole patched the 311 operator can enter the work order into the highway department’s computerized work order system,” Fiorentini wrote. “Our goal is to handle as many calls as possible to relief the stress of city hall employees.”

The non-emergency 311 system is considered a “best practice” by the Commonwealth and became the centerpiece of a “community compact” signed in February by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito and Fiorentini.

The budget, not counting water and sewer, represents a $2.7 million, or 1.5 percent, increase over the current fiscal year which ends June 30. It is “a lower increase than in previous years,” Fiorentini said. It includes a $140,000-line item, for “salaries, build-out and equipment,” to bring a 311 telephone and computer system “designed to improve customer service,” according to an advance of the mayor’s council address provided to WHAV.

The city’s education spending, which Fiorentini calls “our top priority” and “the largest and most important area of the budget,” would increase by $3.5 million, or five percent, over this year. At a recent school committee meeting, schools’ Business Manager Brian O’Connell outlined a proposed $74,396,333 draft budget for the next school year. He called it a 5.91 percent increase over the current school budget. He attributed the increase to, among other things, incremental raises for teachers and other “contractual settlements,” as well as to add new health instructors, a nurse and staffing at the new Hunking School, slated to open in early 2017.

“Haverhill Public Schools account for 41.4 percent of the total budget. When we count the school portion of retirement, health benefits, other benefits, regional school costs, and the school portion of our capital budget, the total appropriation for education related items is 61.1 percent of the total budget,” Fiorentini wrote. “No other expenditure comes close and nothing should.  Education is the key to our future and our top priority.”

Public safety spending, under the budget plan, would increase by $151,719, or 1.4 percent, for the police department and by $107,715, or 1.0 percent, in the fire department. Additional capital spending for police and fire will be unveiled by Fiorentini “in a couple of weeks.”

“The increases in this public safety operating budget are somewhat misleading since neither the police patrol officers nor the fire department has settled a budget for FY 17.  Wages are always the largest portion of any budget.  Any wage increase for police and fire is not included in their budget.  If police and fire were to settle for what the other municipal unions have agreed to then their budgets would be up 2.8 percent and 2.4 perecnt respectively,” Fiorentini wrote.

Water and Sewer

Among other things, according to Fiorentini, the $178 million budget includes water and wastewater reserves of $4.6 million and $1.8 million respectively. Water and sewer budgets were separated from the total city budget several years ago and are now officially deemed “enterprise funds” by the state. These budgets are typically approved by the council separately. Fiorentini said there will be no water rate increases. Figures show sewer and water budgets will be balanced by using reserves of $1 million from the water department and $712,894 from the sewer department.

The budget also proposes taxation at $500,000 below the levy limit under Proposition two and a half due to anticipated savings through the new automated trash pickup program implemented last week.

“Holding the line on spending was key to being able to balance this budget, maintain our high bond rating, and have adequate reserves for a rainy day. This budget has the lowest increase in spending in the past six years. As a result, we are, for the third year in a row, able to tax below the limits allowed by Proposition two and a half,” Fiorentini said.

The Haverhill City Council meets at 7 p.m., tonight, in Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers at Haverhill City Hall.

4 thoughts on “Fiorentini to Unveil $197 Million Spending Plan Tonight

  1. The scams, tricks and lies from this incompetent mayor never ends!!! Budgeting season must bring an extra amount of joy to this thief given how through outright trickery he has been ripping off unsuspecting Haverhill taxpayers the past couple of years. Here is what he’s been up to….

    The City of Haverhill uses a “traditional budgeting” method in arriving at an operating budget. This means that the preparation of a budget begins from a “baseline” number…in Haverhill’s case the baseline is the previous year’s budget total. The city is not using a “zero based budgeting” process where all expenditures have to be justified for every new budget.

    Why is this important? Because in Fiscal Year 2013 the mayor raised taxes by 2.5% from the previous year’s budget, and the city then ended the year with a $3.5MILLION surplus. Haverhill taxpayers paid for services that were not needed. What was the end result of this? Two things….First is that the money was not returned to taxpayers in the form of a credit for future tax payments, which would have been the ethical thing to do. The mayor just kept the money. After the surplus was announced it has never been mentioned by mayor Taxman again. So where is the money? Where does he have it hidden? Colin LePage…since you’ve been finding hidden accounts lately maybe you can look into where the mayor has this money stashed.

    The most disgusting result of the $3.5Million surplus is that those funds were never taken out of the budget after FY2013. The fiscal year 2014, 2015 and 2016 baseline budget figures never adjusted down to account for the fact the city did not have a need for the $3.5Million dollars surplus in the FY2013 budget. The mayor intentionally left the $3.5Million in each subsequent future budget after the surplus year. Over the past four years Haverhill taxpayers have paid $14MILLION in taxes for which there is no need for the funds. That figure rises to $17.5MILLION heading into this next budget cycle because none of the previous year’s inclusions of the $3.5MILLION have been removed from the budget baseline total. And this does not include the yearly 2.5% automatic tax increase which is applied to the $3.5Million figure each year…which adds an additional $350,000.00+ in extra funds over 4 years being paid by Haverhill taxpayers because of this ripoff!! In the end, the mayor doesn’t have just the $3.5Million from the FY2013 budget hidden away somewhere, he has over $14.5MILLION stashed someplace.

    City councilors….if any of you have any ethics heading into this budget season you will address this. That means crediting back Haverhill taxpayers $17.5MILLION for funds already paid the last four years and automatically reducing the mayor’s new budget proposal by that figure before even discussing it.

    • This is one of your better posts. I would like to see some of this money go to a weekly recycling program. The mayor has said this would cost an additional million dollars a year. How did you do your research? I would like to fact check his claim.

    • Alas, I am so pleased to read another masterful fart nugget of conspiracy crapped on us by our friendly neighborhood ass-hat with waaaaaayyyyy too much time on his hands. Jacks Moms is upstairs making angry little confused Jack a PBJ while he tilts at windmills in his basement command center.

      Jack is FULL of theories and the ridiculously stupid idiots that always agree and post with him are just as dumb as these are not facts. Where is the proof? Build a case you losers and bring it to the police or the FBI or The Equalizer. Not saying it cannot be true but for Jack-Ass Haverhill to know all this he would seriously need to have access to NSA servers. Sort of bordering on libelous as well Jack. I am not a big fan of the Mayor but I am not a total hater like you. You got deeper issues with the mayor. Is it the size of his hands???? Oh wait, you are genetically predisposed to hate everything. Do you wake up and eat puppies for breakfast.