Mayor Tom McGee presented the City Council with a $367,935,216 budget for the city for fiscal year 2020, which begins on July 1.
This reflects a little over a one percent increase from the FY19 budget. This is also the earliest the budget has been brought before the council.
“When I took office last year the fiscal health of the city was at a breaking point,” McGee said, adding the city borrowed $14 million to balance the budget.
The council also heard from Sean Cronin, senior deputy commissioner with the Department of Revenue, who is also Lynn’s state fiscal stability officer.
A change in health insurance coverage could also help the budget by switching to the state’s group health insurance plan — Group Insurance Commission (GIC). Tentative agreements with the city unions might facilitate this switch.
Employee benefits make up 23 percent of the overall budget, with health insurance making up 49-59 percent of the benefits. Pensions make up 36 percent of employee benefits. The school department makes up 43 percent of the budget. Public Safety makes up 11 percent of the budget.
“We did not get here over night, and we will not get over this overnight,” he said. “Each year we will build and improve upon this budget.”
McGee said the budget process began in October. He has held meetings with department heads and had subcommittee meetings about the budget.
There will be a public hearing on the budget on June 11 with a possbilble vote by the council to follow.
McGee credited CFO Michael Bertino, department heads and the financial team “with a budget document like I’ve never seen before.”
The budget also includes a five-year capital improvement plan which will include new voting machines, Tasers for police, and IT upgrade in city hall. It also adds three police cruisers and two infared cameras for the fire department.
McGee said his first priority was the preservation of jobs and the budget adds no positions. However, the city still has to negotiate union contracts.
“The budget doesn’t address the woefully short staffed police department,” Cronin said.
“We really need to get police officers out on the street,” McGee said.
The budget also contains $1 million in a “rainy day” fund.
Ward 2 Councilor Rick Starbard was disappointed to see the GAR Hall budget cut impact staffing there.
Councilor-at-Large Brian LaPierre noted the large drop in school crossing guards from 115 to 49.
Cronin said his view of the budget showed some positives – no one time revenues, conservative local receipt estimates, and local aid based on the governor’s budget.