Mayor Vows to Keep City Running After Council Kills FY2018 Budget

Saying the mayor’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 budget does not adequately reflect Haverhill’s priorities, City Council rejected the spending plan, 5-4.

Unless one of the five councilors who opposed the budget seeks reconsideration within 48 hours, or the mayor submits a so-called “one-twelfth” budget that basically extends the current budget by another month, the city will be without funding when the new fiscal year begins on July 1.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini vowed government would continue to operate.

”I will not allow you to shut this city down,” Fiorentini told the council, promising to deliver a bare-bones one-month spending plan to the council to act on at its next meeting on Tuesday, June 27.

The mayor presented a $178.5 million budget for the council’s approval. It included money for three additional patrolmen, a reserve force and downtown patrols for the Police Department, and a $5 million increase in education spending, including money for a pre-K program.

But a majority of the council faulted the mayor for spending too conservatively and hanging on to hefty budget surpluses.

Councilor Colin F. LePage, a member of the majority who voted “no,” argued that the budget the mayor submitted does not emphasize what the city values.

He pointed to the mayor’s failure to follow the police chief’s request for twice the number of personnel — three patrolmen, a lieutenant, a sergeant, and a deputy chief.

Fiorentini said he was willing to add a fourth patrolman.

Councilor Michael S. McGonagle said the budget simply did not go far enough to address the city’s public safety needs.

”Because of our manpower shortage, we’re having our lieutenants, sergeants and detectives doing patrol work,” he said.

McGonagle pointed to the deadly shooting of recent Haverhill High School graduate Bryce T. Finn in his Rainbow Drive home, saying there aren’t enough detectives available to watch potential hotspots.

He suggested adding three patrolmen to the budget, for a total of six, estimating it would add roughly $300,000 to the FY2018 budget.

Fiorentini stood firm at a total of four added patrolmen.

I don’t think there’s a person in the city who would choose affordability over personal safety,” McGonagle said.

Council President John A. Michitson continued the theme of the night, calling for increased public safety spending.The number of Haverhill residents considered economically disadvantaged has risen from 38 percent to 45 percent in the last few years, Michitson said. That means more people are struggling, putting additional stress on the city’s police force and schools, he said.

”We’re asking for 300,000 to make the streets of Haverhill safer,Michitson said.

Sensing that the council’s sentiment was going against his budget, Fiorentini pointed out that if councilors voted no, they were rejecting four additional officers, downtown foot patrols, the return of a reserve police force and a 7 percent increase in education spending.

When the vote was taken, Councilors Andy X. Vargas and Vice President Melinda Barrett sealed the spending plan’s fate.

Councilors Joseph A. Bevilacqua, William J. Macek, Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien and Thomas J. Sullivan voted to approve the budget.

Sullivan termed rejection of the budget “the most fiscally irresponsible action” he has experienced as a member of the council.

But Michitson said councilors felt it was important to take a stand.

”The City Council has very little leverage and we’re exercising that leverage this evening, and I don’t feel bad about that. I’m proud of the fact we’re doing that.”

Macek urged the winning side to move for reconsideration so that the council could pass the mayor’s budget and work with the mayor to create a supplemental budget to fund additional officers and other needs.

According to the city charter, the City Council can’t submit its own budget, and can’t add money to the mayor’s budget.

City Solicitor William D.  Cox said councilors really only have two options: reconsideration and approval of the budget the mayor already submitted, or approving a one-month budget should the mayor submit one.

McGonagle argued that there is money in city coffers to pay for the additional officers.

“The revenue is here; it’s here now. The taxpayers have already given us this money. There’s no pleasure in this, but I think we can do better for the citizens.”

The meeting ended with no reconsideration vote.


8 thoughts on “Mayor Vows to Keep City Running After Council Kills FY2018 Budget

  1. What better proof do you need that the mayor’s goal is to make Haverhill an unofficial sanctuary city for criminal invaders from other countries than his not wanting to fund increased publicly safety?

    Sure, it’s nice to see some push back by city councilors, but they’re not addressing why the need is so great for additional police officers. As usual, they’re being reactionary, instead of proactively addressing what is happening in the city. They’re completely ignoring the cause and affect of their own liberal public policy positions. The City of Boston recently announced that 65% of all crime in that city is committed by criminal trespassers from other countries. Where are the statistics on this for Haverhill?

    Haverhill is now a VERY dangerous place. It’s dangerous because of intentional public policy positions by the mayor and city councilors. When the mayor pushes, and the city council approves, low income housing every other week and it attracts economically disadvantaged people and the crime they bring, what affect did they think was going to happen?

    When Andy Vargas makes public comments on Facebook advising criminal trespassers from other countries in Haverhill to seek safe haven because the Federal Government and ICE was in the city doing their jobs, of course that will attract more of them, resulting in more crime. A public official literally aiding and abetting criminals and working against the Federal Government to keep the city safe, and not even one other city councilor denounces Vargas’s actions. And people wonder why the city is so dangerous and city needs more cops?

    When every city councilor said nothing when a teenage girl was raped in a city park by two criminal trespassers they all were sending a strong message they have absolutely no resolve to address the issue of criminal invaders in the city. Public policy is not always what is official legislation and laws. For liberals it’s about ignoring laws and looking the other way, and that’s what Haverhill city officials are doing concerning criminal invaders.

    This really is not a 2018 budget issue. Hire the 4 additional cops or not, it really doesn’t matter. Until there is a public policy change by the liberal democrats in elected positions in Haverhill who support what is essentially an open border policy in the city for the criminal invaders, nothing is going to help. They’ll all just be back every year seeking more funding for more cops.

  2. The councilors that accepted the mayor’s budget should be ashamed of themselves. Voting for that budget was and is a an acceptance of the status quo within the city. Our school system is failing us. Families are leaving the city in order to send their kids to other schools. The city just dismantled a thriving school for what exactly? There could have been an alternative than voting down that charter. Young families that make a good salary and buy a house within the city have to consider sending their kids to a private school. Which does not make sense considering the amount that taxes have increased in the past 10 years. We need more police officers to combat the increase in crime and there needs to be a program to combat the heroin epidemic that is hitting our city. A couple of weeks ago, the council had a meeting and on the agenda was the heroin crisis. The council spent more than an hour talking about their feeling and with all due respect there was not one single discussion regarding implementing some actual programs or what the city is going to do. The mayor wants to keep his rainy day funds but keeps increasing our cost to live in this city. I wouldn’t have a problem paying if the quality of the city was improving, but that is not the case. Hope the councilors keep firm with their decision not to accept.

  3. Finally, the King gets some push back. With all the revenue streams we’ve created in this city, $300k for much needed additional public safety shouldn’t be an issue whatsoever. The City has plenty in surplus to cover this. THANK YOU to the CC members that chose to do what’s right for the safety of the citizens.

    • You are right. The $300k is not a lot of money really. Why doesn’t the Mayor use the $300 he :”stole” from the Hunking budget for the cops ?? After all it IS OUR MONEY !

  4. It is ABOUT TIME ! Thanks to those councilors who stood up to the Mayor. FINALLY the Mayor is going to be exposed for his political grandstanding.and hiding money. I hope though they don;t fold on this. Hold out folks as without safety we have no city. The Police dept is far behind all other cities it’s size in manpower and has been for years.

  5. Good to see the councilors standing up to the mayor and calling him out on his numbers game. It’s only taken a “few” years but it’s a step in the right direction!!
    The mayor became angry which is comical as it shows the leadership he tries to force, he became defensive and acted like a child.
    Transparency is one word that is not in his vocabulary.