EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


May 28, 2014

Council to review mayor's spending plan

HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini’s $166.8 million budget proposal is in the hands of the City Council.

Councilors will begin reviewing the spending plan next week at a series of public meetings with department heads starting June 4 and ending June 18.

They received the mayor’s budget last night. Councilors can cut spending but they cannot add it. They can also suggest changes to secure their support of the plan.

Councilors deferred comment on the mayor’s proposal after listening to his presentation last night.

“We just got it, so we’ll wait to roll up our sleeves and review it,” Council President John Michitson said after the mayor’s pitch.

Notable budget meetings are water and wastewater on June 4 and public safety on June 12.

Police spending is expected to be the most debated part of the new city budget.

Councilors have said adding officers and giving police more resources is their top budget priority. Police Chief Alan DeNaro has told the council he needs about $685,000 above the mayor’s proposal for seven new patrolmen, equipment, and repairs and improvements to the police station, including $367,825 to fix the building’s roof. The mayor has said he will ask the council for permission to borrow money to repair or replace the roof later this year. The mayor’s spending plan includes three new cops and $25,000 to start a reserve officer program.

The water and sewer meeting could also be interesting. Fiorentini has said the city is going to have to think about increasing water and sewer rates soon to pay for federally-mandated repairs to Haverhill’s combined sewer overflow system of antiquated storm water and sewer drains. The mayor said an alternative to raising rates is developing a new, separate storm water fee.

Fiorentini told councilors last night that he is considering a number of changes and improvements to the city’s recycling program. He said he is looking for their input before going forward. The recycling program is likely to come up when the council takes up the public works budget June 4.

City Council budget meetings (meetings begin at 7 p.m. in the council’s City Hall office)

June 4: Mayor, city council, public works, water/wastewater

June 9: Economic development, conservation, inspectional services, library, human services, veteran services

June 11: Assessors, purchasing, computer technology, treasurer, auditor, legal, human resources

June 12: Police, fire, city clerk

June 18: Haverhill Public Schools, Whittier Voc-Tech, Building maintenance, Stadium Commission

Council votes June 18

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