Councilors Take Last Look at Haverhill Spending Plan Tonight; Police Budget May Be Focus

Haverhill City Council President Melinda E. Barrett addresses Acting Police Chief Anthony L. Haugh during recent budget talks.

Haverhill City Councilors tonight take a final look at the city’s $209 million spending plan for the year that begins next week.

In recent years, the final budget review has become heated and this year’s point of contention may be Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s reluctance to immediately add a second behavioral response clinician or add five more officers as the police department has requested. Councilor Timothy J. Jordan told the mayor previously he backs former Police Chief Alan R. DeNaro’s vision.

“I know how passionately, strongly the chief felt about this. There’s 160 hours in a week. We have one position filled. That’s only 40 hours that’s covered with someone that is trained to do this. For me, I will not vote for the budget if there are not at least two in there,” he said.

Fiorentini has since offered a compromise, agreeing to hire a second police mental health clinician, but not for six months; hiring an assistant harbormaster for the fire department; ceding more control of shared building maintenance to the school department; increasing the salary of the city’s lead nurse as she assumes control of a planned Public Health Department; and other items.

Councilors will take a series of votes, including separate ones for the $11.3 million water and $12.8 million sewer budgets. Unlike the main budget, most of these amounts are passed on to ratepayers.

The Haverhill School Committee recently approved the department’s $96 million spending plan and councilors are expected to follow members’ wishes. During the School Committee’s hearing, Thomas Grannemann of the Haverhill Education Coalition said the overall budget is good, but he urged members to push for more funding from the city to address three key areas.

“Recovering from COVID learning interruptions, meeting the needs for our diverse student population and getting the information needed to fairly compensate our teachers with competitive salaries in the next contract.”

The City Council meets remotely and in-person at 7 p.m., in the Theodore A. Pelosi City Council Chambers, room 202, Haverhill City Hall, 4 Summer St., Haverhill. As a public service, WHAV plans to carry the meeting live.

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