By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Marlborough – A public hearing on the proposed fiscal year (FY) 2014 municipal operating budget, as recently submitted by Mayor Arthur Vigeant, was held during the May 20 City Council meeting. A review of the $132.92 million proposed spending plan reflects an increase of 4.89 percent over the approved FY 2013 budget. The Finance Committee, chaired by Councilor-at-Large Michael Ossing, is proposing a cut totaling slightly over $700,000 from the plan, after a series of review meetings with city department heads.
The largest proposed cut is $250,000 from the budget for the public schools. The School Committee requested $4.5 million, an 8.6 percent increase that was approved by the mayor before he presented his proposal to the council. Contractual obligations and investments in special education and English-language learning contributed to the increase, officials said.
The only resident speaking at the hearing was former Ward 2 City Councilor Paul Ferro of Edinboro Street. He criticized the Finance Committee for what he said was its failure to execute greater cuts to the budget. He also chastised Vigeant and the School Committee for placing an undue burden on taxpayers.
Ferro served for eight years on the City Council until losing his bid for re-election in 2011 to Richard Jenkins. Ferro has announced that he will run for the Ward 2 seat again this fall. Jenkins is not running for re-election as he has moved out of the ward. He will, however, be finishing his term.
In presenting the budget to the City Council earlier this month, Vigeant said FY 2014 represents the first full year in which the city will be paying the bonds on the Easterly and Westerly treatment plant renovations.
On local aid and revenue, he said, “Based on the figures passed by the Massachusetts House of Representatives, overall local aid increased by 2.6 percent or $593,282. With anticipated local aid and local receipts, the impact to the taxpayer's projects will be less than a two percent increase on the property tax levy.”
Following the public hearing, an attempt by Ossing to suspend the rules and act on the budget was not successful. Councilors have 45 days to act on the proposal as mandated by Massachusetts General Laws. It is expected to be on the agenda at the June 3 City Council meeting. At that time, Finance Committee recommendations will be acted on by the full council.