Haverhill City Councilor Colin F. LePage.
In a show of solidarity, all five councilors who voted to reject the city budget Tuesday night jointly asked for reconsideration of the matter Thursday morning.
Councilors had 48 hours to consider a different direction. The decision to seek reconsideration doesn’t mean one or more councilors have changed their positions. Rather, the action preserves their abilities to approve the budget in time for the July 1 start of the new budget year. The five councilors are still hoping Mayor James J. Fiorentini will agree to hiring more than four additional police officers.
“We’re all going to do the responsible thing. We’re going to come up with a budget. I just don’t know what it is going to be,” Councilor Colin F. LePage told WHAV.
City Council Administrative Assistant Barbara S. Arthur hand-delivered the reconsideration letter just after 9 a.m. to City Clerk Linda L. Koutoulas. The letter was prepared Wednesday night, Arthur said, allowing councilors to come in individually to sign it. The last signature came in just before 9. A majority of councilors cannot meet at the same time without advertising the meeting in advance. The individual collection of signatures solved the problem without triggering the state’s Open Meeting Law.
Besides LePage, the letter was signed by council President John A. Michitson and Vice President Melinda E. Barrett and Councilors Andy Vargas and Michael S. McGonagle. The five represent five of the six top vote-getters in the last election.
WHAV first broke the story last week of an earlier vote of the council, at the end of budget deliberations, to reject the mayor’s budget by a 6 to 3 vote. By Tuesday’s vote, Councilor Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien decided to support the $178.5 million spending plan.
All councilors reached emphasized it is not their intent to shut down city government July 1, as the mayor suggested could happen. Instead, they said, they gave Fiorentini ample time to compromise after their earlier rejection of the budget.