The proposed city budget appears to be up $1.5 million.
Mayor Christopher Louras did not include a bottom line in his FY 2014 budget proposal Thursday, but the Herald’s calculations put the total at $19,141,152. This would represent an increase of $1,510,595, or 8.6 percent, from the $17,630,557 voters approved for FY 2013.
“I was more concerned with an honest budget and the parts of the budget rather than the sum total, making sure the department heads had the tools they need to provide the level of service residents have become accustomed to,” Louras said shortly after sending the budget out Thursday evening.
Louras said preparing for Hurricane Sandy and formatting issues left him pressed for time when assembling the budget ahead of the charter-mandated deadline of Nov. 1.
“Is that a politically smart thing to do or wise thing to do in an election year,” he asked of leaving off the bottom line. “No, it’s not. That’s where I’m at with this budget.”
Louras offered a preview of the budget last week when he announced it would include two new positions, one in building and zoning to deal with blighted properties while freeing up the zoning administrator to serve as a city planner, the other in the police department to coordinate information from various organizations and agencies.
Those two additions, Louras said, would tack about $200,000 onto the budget.
Louras was not available for comment later in the evening.
In a cover letter sent out with the 23-page city budget proposal, Louras said the budget included the purchase of trucks and other heavy equipment for the Department of Public Works, money for the police department to develop a fleet management plan, a full-time human resources director and funding to switch to more efficient street lights.
The police department budget showed one of the biggest increases, climbing from $4,787,593 to $5,029,915. DPW saw an increase from $660,193 to $839,204 in administration, $1.8 million to $2 million in streets and $275,000 to $511,747 in street lights. Winter maintenance dropped slightly, from $555,654 to $553,278.
Recreation programs came down by roughly $50,000 and $16,917 came out of the parking meter fund.
Louras’ cover letter also noted that a change in the health plan had saved the city $500,000 over two years.
The budget goes to the Board of Aldermen for review — the aldermen may make cuts but are not authorized to add to the mayor’s proposal — and then to voters on Town Meeting Day.
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