Preliminary City Council Vote Suggests Fiorentini’s Spending Plan in Trouble Absent Compromise

Haverhill Chief Financial Officer Angel A. Perkins and Mayor James J. Fiorentini answer City Council budget questions during a May 2022 meeting. Then-City Clerk Linda L. Koutoulas is behind them. (WHAV News photograph.)

Click image for Haverhill City Council agenda.

With about two weeks to go before Haverhill starts a new budget year, there are not enough votes yet to pass Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s $231.1 million spending plan.

The Haverhill City Council is not meeting tonight, but will gather Thursday instead to see if there is any compromise on at least three sticking points. A preliminary vote last week found two-thirds of the City Council expressed concerns about fire department staffing, the elimination of the number two job in the schools’ maintenance department and the amount of money that should be included for youth mental health activities.

In a 6-3 vote, Council President Timothy J. Jordan, Vice President John A. Michitson and Councilors Melinda E. Barrett, Michael S. McGonagle, Melissa J. Lewandowski and Catherine P. Rogers rejected Fiorentini’s budget. In favor were City Councilors Joseph J. Bevilacqua, Thomas J. Sullivan and Shaun P. Toohey.

As WHAV reported first last month, a tie vote saw rejection of Fiorentini’s $12 million spending plan for the fire department. At issue were the minimum number of firefighters responding to any given emergency. Currently 19—or three per truck plus a deputy—are dispatched to calls. Haverhill Firefighters Local 1011 has long sought at least two more for, what it deems, are safety reasons. Fiorentini proposed adding new positions, but some councilors balked after Fire Chief Robert M. O’Brien acknowledged hiring firefighters without requiring minimum staffing might just reduce overtime costs and not add people to trucks.

Councilors also are concerned about what they saw as the unexpected elimination of the job of assistant facilities director currently held by Mike Flood. The School Committee’s Finance Subcommittee previously voted 2-1 to eliminate the job despite concerns by other members and Superintendent Margaret Marotta.

The Haverhill City Council meets Thursday, June 16, at 6 p.m. remotely and in-person at the Theodore A. Pelosi Jr. Council Chambers, room 202, Haverhill City Hall, 4 Summer St., As a public service, 97.9 WHAV plans to carry the meeting live.

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