EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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June 13, 2013

Vasquez scours $97M budget

LAWRENCE — A city councilor last night made more than 60 separate motions to cut Mayor William Lantigua’s budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, sparing few departments as he scoured for savings of as little as $169 in the $97 million spending plan for the city and its special operations.

After two hours, as Councilor Kendrys Vasquez was putting proposed cut number 61 on the table and the clock ticked past 10 p.m., the council’s budget committee had approved 16 of the proposed cuts totaling $24,348 and rejected 45 totaling $239,964.

Vasquez worked through almost every one of budget’s 226 pages, including $169 for “other services” that he wanted out of the Personnel Department (equal to .00017 percent of total spending), $217 for spending on water and sewer by animal control (00022 percent) and $200 for repairs in the director’s office at public works (.00020). All three proposals failed.

“Every penny adds up,” Vasquez said after proposing the $217 cut to the animal control budget. In almost every instance, Vasquez said his goal was to hold spending to this year’s level.

The three other councilors on the budget committee listened diligently but showed occasional impatience and, as the night work on, a little frustration. Committee chairman Daniel Rivera wiped his brow several times through the evening, and when an Eagle-Tribune reporter left the meeting just after 10 p.m. to meet his deadline, a councilor sent him a text with the protest: “ur gonna miss my motions...”

The budget committee will send whatever cuts they finally approved last night to the full City Council, which will take each of them up on June 26, when it is scheduled to hold a public hearing and then a series of votes on the budget.

The council can only cut the budget for the city, airport, parking, sewer and water funds. It can make no additions and it can’t touch the $156.2 million budget for the schools, which is funded almost entirely by the state.

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