Finance Committee trims $718,000 from proposed FY25 budget

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Finance Committee trims $718,000 from proposed FY25 budget
Marlborough’s Finance Committee has rejected a request for a communications director. (Photo/Maureen Sullivan)

MARLBOROUGH – For the second time this year, Mayor J. Christian Dumais has requested a communications director.

And for the second time this year, the City Council’s Finance Committee said no.

During the committee’s hearing on the FY2025 budget on Monday, May 13, the committee voted, 3-2, to reduce the mayor’s budget by $73,000 – the amount slated for the proposed position.

As in February, when he first put forth the request, Dumais told the Finance Committee of the need for a communications director.

“The office needs more support,” said Dumais, citing the work needed to publish the newsletter and oversee the website. He added the position was necessary to improve communications between city departments and residents.

The proposal drew some support from the committee.

“I do support this,” said Councilor David Doucette. “It [the position] will provide transparency to the community.”

Other members of the committee cited the costs as to why they would vote against it.

“It’ll be a six-figure increase” once benefits are added to the salary, said Councilor Mark Vital.

Council President Michael Ossing recommended that Dumais come back next year with the proposal.

Some budget trimming

The communications director position was among the items trimmed from the fiscal 2025 budget. Overall, the Finance Committee pared nearly $718,000 from the mayor’s proposed budget of $196,610,886, or a 4.69% increase over fiscal 2024.

Most of the cuts came from level-funding overtime requests in several departments; reductions to the Department of Public Works’ electricity budgets (a total of $200,000); and adjustments to several salaried positions.

That brings the proposed budget to $195,893,154.

Just over half of the budget will fund Marlborough Public Schools; however, there’s a difference of more than $800,000 between the budget approved by the School Committee (just over $76.2 million), and what has been proposed through the mayor’s office (about $75.5 million).

Superintendent Mary Murphy, and Director of Finance and Operations Thomas LaFleur, made their case for the higher budget OK’d by the School Committee. LaFleur pointed out increased costs for transportation and tuition for out-of-district special education, as well as contract negotiations with several unions.

A tentative deal was recently reached with the Marlborough Educators Association.

“We have significant needs,” said Murphy, adding that “we’re already looking into reductions,” and that no funds have been allocated for the schools’ strategic plans for fiscal 2025.

The committee voted, 4-1, to accept the smaller budget of $75,775,894.

The Finance Committee did approve most of the budget requests, including police, fire and the library.

The adjusted budget will be brought before the City Council on Monday, May 20.

The entire budget may be viewed via the mayor’s page on the city’s website, www.marlborough-ma.gov.

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