Fiorentini’s Plans for $11M Free Cash: Homeowner Tax Break, Hiring of Opiate Social Worker

Mayor James J. Fiorentini outlined his proposed plan for Haverhill’s $10.8 million in “Free Cash” on Wednesday, ahead of the City Council’s Tuesday, Nov. 28 tax classification meeting.

Should Fiorentini get his way, Haverhill homeowners and businesses will receive a tax break on next year’s bills using $1 million of the funds. Another $1 million would be reserved to pay for priority equipment including new Highway Department vehicles and a new vehicle for the Police animal control officer.

The Mayor also suggested funds for the Police Department to hire a social worker to combat the city’s opioid crisis and for new phone systems and security enhancements to be put into place at City Hall, among other recommendations.

“Free cash is one-time money and is one of the city’s strategic reserves,” Fiorentini said in a letter to councilors about his plan for the Free Cash. “Using any large portion of it today will present us with tremendous challenges as we go forward. There will be tremendous pressure on us to spend this money. But it is critical that we resist that pressure and include the vast majority of the free cash reserve in the upcoming budgets.”

In outlining his proposed expenditures, Fiorentini argued that most of the city’s cash–$5.5 million in 2018 and $3 million in 2019–should be saved and assessed during 2019 and 2020 budget talks.

Fiorentini acknowledged the uncertainty many in the city feel about Haverhill’s ability to close the fiscal gap resulting from the retirement of Rep. Brian S. Dempsey.

“We do not know yet if we will obtain the $2.4 million in state aid next year that we have received this year and in prior years to help us pay our annual payment on the Hale debt,” he said. “Other factors that could negatively affect our 2019 and 2020 budgets include possible lose or reduction in federal grants due to President Trump and/or related federal policies and possible funding cuts.”

However, the $10.8 million surplus is the largest in Haverhill’s history.

“We have progressed from having the largest deficit in our history and the largest municipal deficit in the history of Massachusetts (in the early 2000s) to having the largest surplus in our history,” Fiorentini said. “It is a key reason why our bond rating is currently at the highest point in our history. And it comes at the best possible time, when it is most needed, at the retirement of Rep. Dempsey.”

Here is a preliminary list of Mayor Fiorentini’s recommendations for the Free Cash:

- Police Byrne Grant Staffing: $50,000. This will allow Police to keep a critically needed social worker to assist in the opiate crisis. This position is currently funded by a grant that may be in jeopardy.
- Police Animal control officer replacement vehicle: $60,000.
- New one-ton dump truck: $45,000. Part of overall plan to improve snow-plowing and snow-removal services in the Highway Department.
- Belly Plows for Highway vehicles: $42,000. This will enable plows and trucks to do a better job of cutting through ice.
- Sidewalks: $500,000. This is part of city’s capital plan/annual payment.
- Fire Vehicle Replacement Plan: $32,000. Also part of capital plan/annual payment.
- City Hall Phone System: $45,000. Phone system in need of replacement.
- City clerk’s office, alarm system: $5,000
- Glass Door, city clerk ‘s office: $10,000
- Master Plan Development: $200,000
- Seasonal Highway Workers: for Highway Department.
- Extend Downtown Worker/Cleaner: from part-time to full-time

One thought on “Fiorentini’s Plans for $11M Free Cash: Homeowner Tax Break, Hiring of Opiate Social Worker

  1. “We have progressed from having the largest deficit in our history and the largest municipal deficit in the history of Massachusetts (in the early 2000s) to having the largest surplus in our history,” Fiorentini said. –

    You and City Council had to rob the fruits of other peoples labor to get there, never forget that. Let’s also be clear that Massachusetts net position is a $60 BILLION-dollar hole that grows YoY because like Haverhill, issuing debt to close deficits is the only game in town. As long as government can continue to rob people, infringe on liberty, and usurp or exempt themselves from the laws they impose on the rest of us, the appearance of all is well continues while the rot underneath continues to swell.

    About those bond ratings from the rating agencies, who pays for those? Oh wait…They have a wonderful track record of being accurate and honest, just ask 2008.