FY2018 Budget Approved With 5 New Officers, Money to Fight Gangs

Council President John A. Michitson cast the lone vote against the budget.

City Council passed a budget for Fiscal Year 2018 that adds five patrolmen and restores $238,000 to fight gangs.

Before Tuesday night’s meeting, it looked as though the mayor and council were at a stalemate. A majority of the council was looking for at least six additional police officers, but the mayor refused to approve more than four. However, the mayor offered to replace a gang-fighting grant using $238,000 in savings from switching municipal employees’ insurance to the state’s Group Insurance Commission.

Councilors took a tough bargaining stance, floating the possibility of cutting $250,000 from the budget, including a Highway Department foreman whose $67,000-a-year job carried with it the potential to bring more than $400,000 to the city through the Complete Streets program.

Other proposed cuts were $5,000 from a fund for council travel reimbursement, $4,000 from mayoral travel reimbursement, $110,000 for legal consultants, and $69,000 for trees.

Council President John A. Michitson said while the highway foreman’s job is important, it had a lower priority and less impact than another police officer.

“The mayor found money to replace the gang grant but couldn’t find it for additional police officers? I don’t understand that at all,” Michitson said.

“These aren’t cuts we want to make; we’re forced to prioritize,” said Councilor Andy X. Vargas, who urged adding money for a drop-out prevention counselor in addition to police officers.

Absent from Tuesday night’s meeting, the mayor participated in long-distance negotiations with Mayoral Aide David Van Dam as go-between.

As the meeting progressed and it became clear that the same five councilors who opposed the mayor’s budget last week were prepared to vote against it again, Van Dam approached the podium and announced Fiorentini was willing to add a fifth police officer.

Councilor Michael S. McGonagle suggested adding $45,000 for two part-time drop-out counselors to save money on benefits, but Van Dam said the mayor had made his final offer.

Vargas warned the mayor’s refusal could scuttle the budget a second time.

“We’re 45-grand away from approving a budget … because of gamesmanship,” Vargas said.

Councilors William J. Macek and Thomas J. Sullivan praised the mayor for offering four new officers, and praised the move to add a fifth. They urged their colleagues to approve the budget and keep the pressure on the mayor to fund their priorities.

The final vote on the budget was 8-1, with Michitson the lone opponent. It goes into effect on Saturday, July 1.

After the meeting, the mayor said he agreed to add a fifth police officer in the spirit of compromise.

“It spends a little more than I wanted but I was willing to stretch things to compromise and to make certain we do everything possible to keep our citizens safe,” Fiorentini said. “I honestly felt that the anti-gang thing was much more important.”


9 thoughts on “FY2018 Budget Approved With 5 New Officers, Money to Fight Gangs

  1. Crime rate? Let’s start at city hall!!! It’s a damn shame the games that go on there. They rob peter to pay Paul and yet the taxpayer gets nothing.
    Let’s have fireworks, that brings in revenue to the city. It doesn’t cost any money… hahahaha

  2. I did not see the police presentation. Did it included statistics on what percentage of crime being committed in Haverhill is done by criminal trespassers illegally in the country?

    The public needs to know what mayor failurentini has told Chief DeNaro to instruct police officers in Haverhill to do when they encounter people who are illegally in this country. Does anyone know a Haverhill police officer who can reveal what they have been told to do? There must be a Haverhill cop who reads WHAV….if you can please share what you’ve been told to do it would add a lot to the discussion on crime here.

  3. What a joke this council is. Gutless wonders who want a pay raise and want the Mayors’ support. You were presented with a fact : an over 40% increase in police calls in ONE YEAR and that the police dept. is gravely understaffed and you knuckleheads sit there and allow money to be spent on trees and travel. Very telling where your priorities are people. You will regret that decision when Haverhill sees more violent crime. I guess you seem to think that Haverhill is a utopia and all is good. You seem to be lost on the fact that as surrounding cities crack down on crime, those criminals will come to Haverhill as they see not as much resistance for their dealings. It is common sense that seems lost on you people….except for Micthitson who has finally grown a pair. Pay attention people as your city casts a blind eye to its’ problems.

  4. “We’re 45-grand away from approving a budget … because of gamesmanship,” Vargas said. –

    That’s exactly what it was too. Aside from some of the Councilors verbose windbags, Sullivan actually made some great points in regard to state and federal issues that are, may, and will impact Haverhill. The revenues are up in part from the grossly exaggerated property assessment values (final sales prices are actually down), but why let that get in the way of reality and fundamentals.

  5. Very happy to learn of the council and mayor reaching a compromise. As of late the city’s focus has been with down town development. Therefore its great to see the concerns shift to the best interests of the safety of our city wide residents. It is essential that our elected officials continue to work together for the overall safety of our residents throughout the city. Also keeping strong police presence of our downtown residents on the weekend. It seems that we have an influx of people from other area cities and towns to our down town area to enjoy the art of musical performers at local dance clubs etc. Lets show these visitors that we don’t have patients for poor behavior and manners and at the same time make them feel welcome and safe.

    • I disagree Joe, Mitch knows what is coming regarding the crime rate. Look around you, It is obvious to many but not the rest of the council. Did you see the police dept. presentation ? Haverhill is not immune to what is going on in other cities. We have gangs but most people want to stick their heads in the sand. People around here are reactionary and wait until problems become an big issue. Watch