Council Approves $245 Million for FY25 Budget

The City Council approved a $245 million operating budget for Fiscal Year 2025 Monday night following a public hearing. While there were more than a dozen people who spoke during the public hearing on the budget before the vote, almost all of the speakers were asking for the city to help fund a youth summer work program at local human services nonprofit La Colaborativa. City Councilors and City Manager Fidel Maltez both noted that the city itself is not making any cuts to youth workforce development programs in the budget. But the state is expected to cut the budget for the youth work programs for agencies across the commonwealth such as La Colaborativa. “It came to my attention that La Colaborativa will not be able to provide as many jobs to the youth as they did last year due to state budget cuts,” said Faith Dunbar. “This means that many youth in the city will not have the opportunity to be employed at La Colaborativa this summer, including myself.” Dunbar and a number of other young people spoke about the benefits of the jobs program both for the youth and for the community at large. “We need to step up and react to this,” said Armando Rivera, a former facilitator and supervisor for the jobs program at La Colaborativa. Council President Norieliz De Jesus thanked the young people who spoke for their advocacy, and noted that the council and the city have prioritized a lot of the needs of youth in Chelsea in part because they have shared their concerns. “It is very important that you continue to guide us in the direction we need to go to make sure that your futures are successful,” she said. Maltez noted that the city is working to maximize its funds, including remaining ARPA federal Covid relief funds, for workforce development programs. “With that said, as one of the speakers said, the cuts that have been made at the state level are very alarming and unfortunate,” said Maltez. District 1 Councilor Todd Taylor said that the council has no power over the cuts at the state level, and encouraged the advocates for the youth jobs program to get in touch with their local state representatives and senators. On the budget itself, the council passed the $245 million budget as presented by Maltez. There were several motions made for minor reductions in the budget, but one failed and two were withdrawn. About $142.4 million of the budget, or just over 58 percent, is for education, while the remainder is for general government expenses. After education, the next largest expenditure in the budget is for public safety, accounting for about 12.5 percent of the total budget at $31.2 million. The proposed public safety budget is just under $1 million higher than the current year’s budget. The proposed budget has nine additional positions that are intended to better support the city and build capacity. Among those are four positions, including Deputy City Manager Michael Mason and Deputy City Manager Devon Fields, that were approved by the council earlier this year. The new positions also include new deputy directors in the inspectional services and public works departments.

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