Council Wants More Involvement in City Budgeting Process

City Council President James A. Michitson

City councilors hope this year’s budget process will be a more collaborative effort than in years past, and will invite Mayor James J. Fiorentini and select department heads to meetings this month as spending plans begin to take shape.

Council President John A. Michitson wants the council to have input in the early stages of budgeting.

Traditionally, the council receives a complete budget in time for public hearings just before members are required to vote on the city’s financial blueprint.

The Fiscal Year 2018 budget goes into effect on July 1.

This year, Michitson said, the council wants to meet with two key department heads — Police Chief Alan DeNaro and Public Works Director Michael Stankovich — to hear first-hand about their needs and priorities.

Mayoral aide David VanDam argued against the sessions, saying the mayor alone has the authority and responsibility to craft the budget, and that the appropriate place for council involvement is during the budget hearings.

Council Vice President Melinda Barrett said simply, “That’s too late.”

Michitson bristled, saying it is “bizarre” that city councilors would be denied the opportunity to collect information directly from department heads.

“It’s the City Council’s responsibility to know this kind of information before we vote on the budget. How else can we determine if citizens’ needs are being met,” he asked.

“If the council is looking for specific information, we’re happy to provide it,” VanDam said.

But Councilor Colin F. LePage said that hasn’t always been the case. The mayor often fails to share information with the council when he is asked to do so.

“It can’t continue that we get the information at the last moment,” he said.

Councilor William J. Macek suggested a contingent from the council meet privately with the mayor and department heads during the budget process to get an idea of how the spending plan is put together.

But Councilors Michael S. McGonagle and Andy X. Vargas argued that the process should be as transparent as possible.

Macek was the only councilor to oppose Michitson’s proposal.

3 thoughts on “Council Wants More Involvement in City Budgeting Process

  1. If the council has a problem with the way the city budget process operates and the Mayors’ power in this process, then they should call for a city charter change to give them more say in these matters. To think that the Mayor is going to do something different than he has been doing for a decade is laughable. Just because you want it to happen doesn’t mean it will. There are ways the council can control the Mayor and his budget but the Mayor knows they do not have the guts or the will to fight him. The council hasn’t done it in a decade so why start now ?

  2. Tim Coco….Can you please investigate and report on the “legal notice” released today by the City of Haverhill in the Eagle Tribune about the water department not meeting treatment requirements.

    This notice is essentially a warning to Haverhill citizens of the treatment facility going off line because of a power outage. The outage occurred either because of personnel failure, or more likely not having a backup generator at the facility to keep it running when they lost power. The notice is written in such a way that it is intentionally vague as to what specifically happened. One thing is for sure…water was released into the system which was not treated. The notice warns of possible health concerns, especially in the elderly.

    The fact that the city chose to release a “legal notice” instead of a public statement coming from the mayor’s office means the mayor is once again trying to hide something. More malfeasance on the part of the mayor and the water department in not properly managing the process. A legal notice is a means to make the issue public, but essentially bury it in media so there is not wide spread dissemination of the information. More proof is that the incident that occurred happened on December 11, 2016. Elderly citizens have a high possibility of getting sick and the mayor is just releasing this information now??

    This is obviously the mayor taking legal steps to cover his a$$….again!!