Mayor Thomas McGee submitted his Fiscal Year 2019 budget to the Lynn City Council Tuesday night. McGee’s proposed FY19 is $319,524,500 and in a letter to the Council, McGee said the budget includes an $847,564 increase in reserves, $300,000 increase for the snow and ice budget and fully funds the city’s net school spending requirement for education.
McGee added that the proposed budget correctly budgets the City’s share of health insurance costs based on projected 100 percent utilization at a cost of $47.3 million.
“Furthermore, this proposed budget includes the addition of essential financial and public safety staff, specifically, the city’s first fulltime Chief Financial Officer, twenty new firefighters pending the awarding of a federal grant, and ten new police officers,” said McGee. “Lastly, the balanced budget I am submitting does not require the entire use of the borrowing authorized by “An Act relative to the financial condition of the city of Lynn.”
The city’s fire chief, Stephen Archer, testified Tuesday that his department is down 25 firefighters over the past five years so he has applied to FEMA for a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant that will be used to hire the twenty new firefighters.
Through the federal grant, FEMA will pick up most of the costs of the new fire hirees’ salaries for three years. Following the three year period the cost of the salaries would revert back to the city.
Back in February the Council voted in favor of a home rule petition that will allow the city to borrow up to $14 million from the Department of Revenue to close the city’s $8.1 million budget gap. The home rule petition that passed also raised some fees on residents and lifted a restriction that requires voter approval before the city can borrow more than $4 million.
The one dissenting vote came from Ward 2 City Councilor Richard Starbard who said he would not support the Home Rule Petition due to the plan to implement a $90 annual trash fee on single family owner occupied homeowners. In June of last year the Council voted to enact the trash fee to help raise $2 million in revenue. At the time of that vote a single-family owner occupied home was exempt from the fee.
Mayor Thomas McGee has argued that desperate times call for desperate measures and the borrowing of up to $14 million over the next two years, the increase in fees and removing restrictions was necessary to ensuring a viable fiscal future for Lynn and close a growing budget gap.
Councilot’s Like Ward 1 City Councilor Wayne Lozzi agreed that some belt tightening needed to be done until the city gets a handle on the budget gap.
The budget will be presented again at the next Council meeting in two weeks.