Acting City Manager Ned Keefe presented a proposed $231,135,736 Fiscal Year 2024 budget to the City Council on Monday night.
The budget funds School Department expenditures at $132,367.509, an increase of 11.82 percent over the current fiscal year. The majority of that increase is being paid from new Chapter 70 state funding generated by the Student Opportunity Act, according to Keefe.
The proposed municipal budget is 98,768,227, an increase of 4.95 percent. The city side of the budget includes 11 positions that are either new or have not previously been funded through the city budget.
“Most of the city increases are reflected in salary accounts,” stated Keefe. “This is due mainly to raises required in collective bargaining agreements and to the addition of new positions in the operating budget. These new positions, a total of 11, will improve the delivery of services to residents and allow the city to increase internal capacity for handling new projects and programming implemented with ARPA (federal Covid relief) funding.”
The city is able to absorb the increase in new personnel because of its favorable financial position.
The new positions included assistant directors for both the Office of Emergency Management/Emergency Communications Center and the Housing and Community Development department. Keefe is also looking to move a resource navigator in the community development department to help with resident needs.
Keefe is also requesting an auditing/ARPA financial analyst to help monitor revenue and expenditure activity, primarily for the increased capital and grant funded projects obtained through ARPA funding.
The budget also includes funding for three new police officers.
“Funding for this additional group of officers is through a three-year US Justice Department grant,” stated Keefe. “The new officers’ assignments will be to the CPS as a School Resource Officers and the Downtown Task Force.”
Other positions include a permit planner in the permitting and land use planning department and a DPW buildings and grounds parks manager.
“This position takes primary responsibility for the park system, including annual maintenance and repair of park facilities and equipment, cleanup, landscaping, and management of the parks for scheduled recreational leagues and activities,” Keefe said of the DPW position. “Additionally, this role will lead the development and execution of a comprehensive strategic plan for the parks, engaging public users, and in collaboration with other city departments.”
The other two proposed positions are a part-time electrical inspector and an arts manager in the Health and Human Services department.
The regional school district expenditure for FY24 has increased by $130,567 to $1,436,237.
“That line item now includes the second payment on the debt for the new Northeast Regional Vocational High School, a total debt service payment of $311,533,” stated Keefe. “That debt service figure will rise gradually to approximately $1.9 million annually starting in FY26.”
The council will be meeting with individual city departments to discuss their proposed budgets in the coming weeks before taking a final vote on the FY24 budget.