Mayor, Finance Committee consider eff ect of state cuts

Marlborough – Mayor Nancy Stevens got proactive at the onset of the current financial crisis by instituting a city-wide spending freeze. She, along with mayors from other cities, recently met with Lt. Gov. Tim Murray in a closed-door meeting to discuss what can be done to ease the city's economic troubles.

Stevens reported back at the Oct. 20 meeting of the city's Finance Committee that she will continue to work closely with the state's administration, which has already announced a billiondollar deficit resulting in a round of cuts.

"They gave us a guarantee that that [cutting] Local Aid and Chapter 70 funding was the last resort," she said.

After the Oct. 16 budget cut, Stevens went through the city's budget with the fi- nance teams and the department heads to see how the cuts would aff ect the city.

According to Stevens, the major impact will fall upon the community policing division of the police force, which will lose $36,000 in funding. The cut is anticipated to aff ect programs, not the city's policing jobs.

Also on the chopping block was wastewater treatment plant funding, of which the city received $70,000 last year. Stevens said that the funds had not been counted on for city revenue.

"We are not anticipating receiving those funds," she said.

Intending to maintain the city-wide spending freeze, Stevens said that the current cuts and the freeze would not aff ect economic stimulus plans and capital projects.

"That is what will keep us going through these tough times," she said. "Cities and towns are faring better than the state; we are doing very well."

With the freeze in place, the Finance Committee members began to look for additional places to save after a request to transfer $33,000 for salary increases to city employees covering for colleagues out on workman's compensation.

"There is a very dire forecast," Ward 1 City Councilor Joseph Delano said. "… Personally I do not see why we have to throw more money out there."

Stevens defended the transfer of funds. Ward 7 City Councilor Donald Landers agreed.

"When you are in an interim position, you get paid for that position … It goes without saying that if you expect a person to do that job, you pay them what the position pays," Landers said.

Ward 2 City Councilor Paul Ferro questioned why after four and half months into an employee's leave, they are now considering increasing the salary, which led to questions about whether the position had to be filled at all.

Ferro recommended making more fiscally conservative decisions in the future.

Despite the councilors' debate about the funds, the city is contractually mandated to pay a certain salary for a certain position.

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=3733

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