Councilors Make Pitch to Use Extra Money for Schools

Haverhill City Councilors Melinda E. Barrett and Colin F. LePage appeared on WHAV’s Open Mike Show Monday night.

The biggest question before Haverhill city councilors tonight is how much taxpayer money should be used to slow the increase in property taxes, pay for immediate repairs to city schools or be put away for a rainy day.

Haverhill City Councilors Melinda E. Barrett and Colin F. LePage made clear on WHAV’s Open Mike Show Monday night they believe at least $300,000 should be earmarked for school repairs. They picked schools—Tilton in particular—over a variety of requests ranging from hiring more police to completing the repair of bleachers at Haverhill Stadium.

LePage said an extra $600,000 discovered unused in a city spending account can be used right away on “one-time” projects without much impact on what he estimates is $10 million in city reserves. During recent budget hearings, LePage said, Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini has instead indicated a preference for adding the money to the city reserves and reducing tax bills.

Tilton School has been the focus of Councilor Andy Vargas and the Mount Washington neighborhood group Urban Kindness. (See entire Open Mike Show below.)

Fiorentini’s latest round of proposed long-term capital improvement spending, including a total $1.1 million in loans for building repairs and new equipment, is to be placed on file for two weeks during tonight’s Haverhill City Council meeting.

Under four loan order proposals, the city would borrow, during the new fiscal year beginning July 1, $420,000 to purchase and equip a fire truck; $195,000 to purchase and equip an aerial bucket truck for the Department of Public Works; $350,000 for “various repairs” at the Haverhill police station; and $150,000 to repair or, “in the alternative,” replace the dog pound facility near the public works yard. The loan orders would be part of a recently revised, five year capital improvement plan by Fiorentini, running from the current fiscal year and the next four years. As WHAV reported May 31, the plan would include a $5 million renovation project of Consentino middle school in the fiscal year beginning July, 2018. In the following fiscal year, the city would spend $675,000 for repairs and new lockers at John Greenleaf Whittier School.

The council is also scheduled to vote tonight on, a WHAV also reported last month, total $197 million city budget plan, including the public schools as well as water and wastewater departments. Last minute efforts to add money to the city’s spending plan, such as $300,000 in improvements to Tilton School and additional funds for “more pressing needs,” were topics of discussion during Monday’s Open Mike program.

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

4 thoughts on “Councilors Make Pitch to Use Extra Money for Schools

  1. I don’t know why the Mayor just doesn’t finish the stadium project and get it over with. Then, the city can move onto other projects. Haverhill is laughed at when people come to the stadium and see yellow police tape. The $600k is “Found money” and has no effect on the budget.

    • A couple weeks ago, near the end of soccer season, visiting towns were treated to the Haverhill High School fields not being properly cut, in some places, the grass wasn’t cut at all. We parents just stated to visiting teams: “Welcome to Haverhill.”

  2. $600K is a drop in the bucket of what this lying, scheming mayor has hidden.

    The City of Haverhill uses a “Traditional” budgeting process. This means budgets are decided by using the previous year’s budget, plus any designated increases, to determine its next operating budget. This is opposed to a “zero based” budget where all expenditures must be justified in each new budget.

    Why is this important? Because in fiscal year 2013 the city ended the year with a budget surplus of $3.5MILLION. Taxes were collected from taxpayers but that money was never spent. In the following 2014, 2015 and 2016 fiscal year budgets that $3.5MILLION was never removed from the baseline number to start the budgeting process. This means the city collected $3.5MILLION for four consecutive years when it was determined there was no need for those funds in the 2013 budget. $14MILLION has been collected through this deception and that does not include the 2.5% yearly budget increase taxpayers pay. That amounts to an additional $350.000.

    So where is the money hidden? What is the mayor using it for? In discussing unemployment in Haverhill last week the lying, corrupt mayor made that statement that “jobs are moving to Haverhill”. With a bit of research it is easy to find out that from July to September of last year the City of Haverhill added 484 people to the city payroll. This budget scheming gives you an idea how he’s paying for those jobs.

    Is it any wonder the corrupt mayor ignores the prospect of buying accounting software that would give transparency to city councilors and taxpayers on why taxes are being collected and how they are spent?