Council Begins Review in Earnest of Quarter-Billion Haverhill Budget; Plans Five Nights of Scrutiny

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.

Although the Haverhill City Council formally receives the mayor’s proposed nearly quarter billion-dollar budget tonight, it actually began its review last night by looking at City Hall executive departments.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini publicly released his proposed budget last Monday, but it was not received in time to make last week’s City Council agenda. Spending orders before the legislative body tonight include distributing $732,000 from sales of city property to such capital projects as downtown parking lot repairs, replacing long-broken bricks on the edges of downtown sidewalks, rehabilitating a Park Department barn and technology upgrades.

As WHAV reported last week, Fiorentini said the spending plan includes 8.5 new city jobs, including four additional firefighters, and adds $300,000 in overtime pay to the fire department’s budget.

About half of the city budget is paid through property taxes and the rest comes from state aid, excise taxes, fees, rentals and other income.

Besides the $245.7 million spending plan for the year that begins July 1, councilors also have the responsibility of approving separate water and sewer budgets—typically by ratepayers—of $13.1 million and $14 million respectively.

To balance the budget, Fiorentini appears to recommend tapping $5.2 million from the city’s surplus—known as “free cash.”  He noted the total budget is up 5.18% or $12 million. By itself the city side of the budget is up 3.84% or $2.5 million; school department is up 6.35% or $8.7 million—the same amount as the increase in state aid for education; and liability, unemployment and workers’ compensation insurances are up $800,000.

Last night’s review of proposed spending included the mayor and City Council, human resources, assessors, treasurer, auditor, public buildings and inspectional services Further Council scrutiny over five nights includes the library and fire department Wednesday; economic development, public works, water and sewer next Wednesday, May 31; police and schools on Monday, June 5; and a final review Wednesday, June 7.

The Haverhill City Council meets tonight at 7, 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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