Two weeks ago, the city council met for 15 minutes. Without a wide range of important matters to discuss, the meeting was shorter than most.
This week, the council didn’t meet although there were various conferences held at city hall.
On June 7, comes the most important council meeting in months. This is the meeting when the city budget will come up for discussion.
“This is an important meeting about a budget that is attempting to be everything to everyone. And of course, it can’t. Some people will be happy with it. Others will think we need to do more. Of course, it is all a matter of money and presenting a finished, balanced budget,” said Council President Leo Robinson.
City employees will be looking for pay increases. Police and firefighters bargaining units are all in the expectation that raises will be agreed on.
However, it is the health insurance issue that is bringing down the available cash for the slimmed down budget.
Last year – and for the past five years, the city’s employee health insurance costs have soared, causing the city’s financial experts and the city manager to consider ways of bringing down the cost.
“We all need to come together to figure out a solution that will satisfy not only the employees but the residents and taxpayers. The multi million dollar rise from year to year for city paid health insurance cannot go on, all local officials agree,” said Robinson.
Presently, city employees pay 15% of the cost for their health insurance.
It is a budget line item that has risen more dramatically than any other and which endangers the entire budgetary process if rising costs go unimpeded.
Local aid is continuing to be cut making it more difficult for the city to carry the burden of that deficit.
However, Chelsea’s budget provides for no layoffs of public employees.
The council is also into discussion about a planned citywide parking program as well as a new trash removal program designed to reduce street and sidewalk litter on trash days.
According to City Manager Jay Ash, residents are apparently leaning heavily toward having barrel trash without lids on trash removal day.