The City Council postponed the budget vote for a second time on Monday, June 1st. This is after the vote was first postponed amid controversy at the May 18th Council meeting.
On May 18th, Mayor Brennan directed the Acting City Manager Mike Sauschuck to postpone the budget hearing to June 1st, but many City Councilors thought it was an overreach of power, believing that only a majority vote from the Council could postpone an agenda item.
At the June 1st meeting, the Council voted 6-3 to postpone the vote again. Councilors Jill Duson, Nick Mavadones and Ed Suslovic were opposed. Delaying the passage of the budget could cost the City by interfering with the timely collection of property taxes.
The Council will next take up the budget on June 24th, one week before the new budget would take effect. They hope to have a clearer picture of the state budget by then, since the State Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on June 17th.
Cuts in funding for the City from the State budget account for much of a $10 million shortfall.
To make up for the shortfall, the City Manager’s draft of the budget makes many cuts, and includes a property tax increase and an increase in fees for the City required blue trash bags.
Several amendments to the City Manager’s draft budget are expected. Amendments are likely to address the most controversial budget issues.
First on the list is General Assistance (GA). Currently the State reimburses most of the City’s GA payments to immigrants for emergency housing and food. The State is threatening to end their share of those payments.
Next, there is the proposed response to the Noyes Street fire that killed six in November 2014. The budget includes $600,000 for a new Housing Safety Office to be funded by landlord registration fees.
The City may stop funding for overflow housing for homeless residents. Currently the City provides overflow beds when the Preble Street shelter is full, and hotel rooms for homeless families when the family shelter is full.
Also of issue is the position of Bike-pedestrian Coordinator. The position is scheduled to be axed and is currently unfilled. The Bike-Pedestrian Coordinator advocates for and coordinates bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements.