Council Approves Final FY19 Budget With Less Than $100K in Cuts
NEW BEDFORD — In a 9-2 vote, the New Bedford City Council passed a final budget of $379,252,124 for the 2019 fiscal year on Monday night.
The Council voted to make cuts in just two areas from a list of over 100 proposed cuts, totaling about $95,000. In a 7-4 vote, a total of $83,000 in salary and benefits were cut from the Solicitors Office, followed by another cut of roughly $12,000 to contract services from the Solicitors account in a 6-5 vote.
The two longest tenured councilors, Council President Linda Morad and Councillor At-Large Brian Gomes, provided the two votes against passing the final budget. Morad and Gomes also voted for numerous proposed cuts to areas such as wastewater treatment positions in the Wastewater Treatment Enterprise Fund and other non-emergency based departments.
Council President Morad says that she’s “disappointed” by the amount of money left in the budget following votes from her colleagues. Morad says that the $95,000 cut from the 2019 budget is the second lowest she’s ever seen cut in her career as a City Councillor.
“We left a lot of money in this budget. There were a lot of staff salary excesses in 2018 and there’s no reason to believe that it won’t be the same number in 2019,” said Morad. “When the tax payer gets bill in the beginning of 2019 I hope they’ll remember this night. And when the water and wastewater charges and services go up because of all those additional moneys left that were left in that budget, I hope that they’ll remember this vote as well.”
Councillor At-Large Brian Gomes also acknowledged the amount cut out of the budgets and says it’s the smallest amount he’s seen cut in his career. Gomes adds that the budget passed by the Council on Monday will be damaging not only to tax payers down the road, but to businesses as well.
“They (tax payers) can’t take it anymore and they have to see light on the other side. This budget won’t provide that light on the other side or even ease the burden of the tax payer and what they’ll have to pay this coming year,” Gomes argued. “I voted ‘no’ on the whole budget because this is going to be detrimental to the tax payers when we set rates coming later on this year. Not only to the residents of this city, but to the business community.”
Ward Three Councillor Hugh Dunn voted to cut the $95,000 from City Solicitors Office for an additional staff position. He says that the council shouldn’t be adding more city employees to the payroll, with exception public safety positions.
“There was one area I thought we could go without, which was adding on an additional city solicitor. I just don’t think that with the taxes being the way they are that we should be taking on more employees unless it’s public safety related,” Dunn explained. “I couldn’t justify taking on another attorney. One of the reasons they had given was that there was an uptick in litigation with the city and its labor departments, and I wasn’t comfortable with that because it seems like a problem that’s unique to this administration.”