There was plenty of good financial news presented by Acting City Manager Ned Keefe at Monday night’s City Council meeting.
In February, the state’s Department of Revenue certified the city’s Free Cash at the end of Fiscal Year 2022 at just over $17 million for the city’s general fund, just over $4 million for the sewer enterprise fund, and $2.1 million for the water enterprise fund. Free cash is the money that is typically left over at the end of the fiscal year, and Keefe stated that the state’s figures reflect the city’s positive financial condition.
“Given these surpluses, I am writing now to seek reinvestment of a portion of these funds into programs, projects and efforts that will continue to benefit residents,” Keefe stated in a letter to the council. “I am also looking to cover some deficits for FY23 that have already surfaced.”
Some of the requests included $176,000 for the Bunker Hill Scholarship Program for Chelsea High School students, $100,000 for seed funds for the Chelsea 400th celebration in 2024, $11,000 for city audit services, and $50,000 for the Mill Creek Riverwalk project.
“Expanding public access options to Mill Creek received a boost with the $182,000 MassTrails Grant Program to begin the planning, design, and engineering of a boardwalk, connecting the future 88 Clinton St. waterfront park to Broadway,” stated Keefe.
The $50,000 being requested from free cash will be used to fund the appraisal value and related legal services to begin the process.
Other requests include $200,000 for additional costs for the Powderhorn Hill staircase refurbishment, $215,000 for DPW buildings and grounds projects, $10,000 for DPW buildings and grounds overtime, $60,000 got street and sidewalk overtime, $50,000 for sewer enterprise infrastructure, and $61,000 for IT department projects.
Additional money is being proposed to pay expected deficits in outside legal services, unemployment costs, redistricting expenses in the City Clerk’s office, and solid waste disposal.
“The total amount of all of these requests is $1,364,250,” stated Keefe. “The city has sufficient funding to cover all of these costs in our Certified Free Cash and Retained Earnings. Even after these expenditures, the remaining balances will be more than sufficient to cover both the Free Cash allocations in the FY24 CIP ($11,438,458), the proposed FY24 budget ($253,835) and any other additional FY23 deficits that may arise before the end of the fiscal year.”
The financial requests were moved to a second reading and will likely be voted on at the City Council’s next meeting,
In other positive financial news, Keefe informed the council that the Clark Avenue Middle School project fund had a surplus of $2,958,991 and could be closed by the city.
“This notable surplus achievement is the result of the city and Chelsea School Department staff’s collaborative approach with its contractors to pursue the highest standards for the building within a realistic and balanced approach,” stated Keefe.
Keefe requested that the council approve the transfer of the fund to the School Capital Stabilization Fund.
“The School Capital Stabilization Fund is a source of capital for school building improvements that the council may appropriate for a future school capital project,” according to Keefe.