The prudent thing to do would be to set aside that surplus to cover the loss of the fire grant. But there already are claims being made against the money.
Robert Nunes, the fiscal overseer appointed by the state to oversee spending in Lawrence, said Mayor William Lantigua will propose budget amendments this week that may call for spending about $1 million of the 2012 surplus on “one-time expenses.” Nunes would not elaborate on those expenses. Lantigua, true to form, could not be reached for comment. So, it’s anybody’s guess on what Lawrence’s leaders plan to blow a million bucks.
Gleefully spending down surpluses as fast as the state can certify them is never prudent fiscal policy. A well-managed municipality ought to consider that money as rightfully belonging to the taxpayers and return it by lowering tax rates and fees.
Lawrence is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a well-managed city. It remains a ward of the state, one that for the past few years has simply taken in more state and federal assistance than it can spend.
Lawrence, at a minimum, must be able to assure its residents that the city will provide them with the basics of police and fire protection. Now, a significant source of funding for the city’s fire protection is about to run dry. Lawrence’s leaders would be unwise to spend the city’s surplus on anything else.