NEW BEDFORD — In a special New Bedford City Council meeting on Wednesday night, Mayor Jon Mitchell presented his administration’s $431 million municipal budget for Fiscal Year 2022.

Mitchell said 75 percent of the budget – almost $287 million – consists of fixed costs that include mandated assessments, state mandates, required net school spending and regional agreements. He said fixed costs have taken a larger chunk of the city’s budget since 2014, when 69 percent of municipal funds were allocated for those kinds of expenses.

“Pandemic or no pandemic, they threaten to crowd out still more (city) services for the foreseeable future,” Mitchell said via Zoom during Wednesday’s virtual city council meeting.

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In his budget proposal, Mitchell said he is looking to bring back 11 of 28 municipal jobs that were eliminated last year because of pandemic-related revenue losses. Mitchell said the city has shown some signs of an economic rebound, with the unemployment rate – which was 24 percent a year ago – now just under 10 percent.

Mitchell also said the fishing industry appears to be bouncing back, noted that single-family home prices were up by more than 22 percent from the first three months of 2020, and that New Bedford has seen a net gain of five new restaurant openings during the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the city still stands to receive more than $64 million in federal relief funds that Mitchell said could be used for one-time expenses, such as improvements in water and sewer projects, or to cover pandemic-related budget shortfalls.

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