By Mike Molloy
The Board of Aldermen made final budget cuts on Thursday evening. Mayor Curtatone opened the meeting speaking passionately on what he believes the FY14 budget will achieve. The BOA shares the Mayor’s zeal for our thriving city, while asserting its duty to make cuts where necessary.
They acted on the ideology that little cuts here and there add up and ultimately make a substantial difference. Several departments saw cuts to new salaried positions by 1-3 months, which makes up for the lag time it takes to hire a candidate. Some of these positions saw more significant cuts than others, such as the new Preventative Maintenance Manager for Capitol Projects being cut by six months, saving $40,000. When making such decisions, Aldermen communicate with department heads in order to reach the most realistic, fiscally responsible conclusion.
Lengthy discussions surrounded several departments including SomerPromise, an initiative to support education and child development from birth to high school. Some Aldermen questioned whether new funds would lead to anywhere new, as they have yet to see palpable innovations in FY13. However, several aldermen defended the program, which is still in its infancy and needs support and faith in order to achieve its benevolent purpose. Maintaining their position that education is of the utmost value to the city of Somerville, the BOA ultimately decided not to make any cuts to SomerPromise and expect to see significant strides next year and in years to come.
The BOA went on to cut approximately $60,000 from the Communications Department budget after a bit of confusion surrounding the shuffling of positions within departments. Maryann Heuston, Ward 2 Alderman states, “We did not cut an actual position but we did cut the dollar equivalent of the position (approx. $60,000), and that was taken from Telco Cable revolving fund. Technically, this fund supplements the Communications budget, but since it is a revolving fund we made a cut to its bottom line. We rejected the bottom line provided to us and request a revised one with the cut we recommended.” Communications will have to function with less money than they requested.
On the other hand, some departments welcomed budget cuts due to recent developments. With the help of the City Treasurer, the BOA was able to cut over $400,000 from their original proposed budget.