Fiorentini Says COVID-19 Health Crisis and Possible Budget Impact Vindicates His Thrifty Spending

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini delivers annual State of the City address in 2019. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Mayor James J. Fiorentini has received his share of name calling over the years for tightly holding the city’s purse strings, but he says he is being vindicated now as the city’s looks at likely shortfalls in the aftermath of the coronavirus.

Specifically, the mayor has taken heat over not spending enough on repairs and maintenance at city buildings—most recently, the city’s central fire station on Water Street. Just Tuesday, some city councilors suggested raiding the city’s surplus instead of cutting projects. Fiorentini told WHAV Thursday the city doesn’t have as much in the bank as some think.

“Had we listened to the voices demanding that we greatly increase spending, we would have a crisis on our hands today. As it is, we have a problem, not a crisis,” the mayor said.

He thanked those who have stood by his spending decisions, saying, “I am deeply grateful to the city councilors who have stood by me over the past three years and joined with me in resisting the urge to spend every dime in our budget.” Haverhill also has about $5.8 million in its separate rainy-day fund.

Besides $500,000 for fire station repairs, the mayor said the city recently spent $750,000 for a state-required feasibility study as part of the Dr. Albert B. Consentino school project. Another $5.1 million is spoken for to balance the budget that begins July 1. Fiorentini says that leaves $5.2 million which he hoped to carry forward to next year’s budget.

“However, even with our reserves, we are going to have deep budget problems next year,” he said, adding, “There is really no way around it. No one has ever seen anything like this before.”

Comments are closed.