AMESBURY — The City Council will receive Mayor Ken Gray’s budget for next year by their meeting on Tuesday. According to council President Joe McMilleon, there shouldn’t be too much out of the ordinary.
“I don’t think there are going to be any surprises,” McMilleon said. “Certainly there will be some pertinent questions from some of the councilors that were not anticipated by the mayor, but I don’t expect any significant, new information.”
By law, the City Council cannot increase the mayor’s budget, only decrease it. Tuesday night’s City Council meeting will signal the beginning of the month-long approval process that will include nine public meetings along the way.
Wednesday, May 14, will signal the first Finance Committee public budget hearing, which will be devoted to the mayor, legal services and the public school system.
The Department of Public Works will go on Thursday, May 15.
“I look forward to hearing from the department heads,” City Councilor and chair of the Finance Committee Donna McClure said. “Because I understand that the mayor put them through some paces this year to see where they could save money.”
Sixteen other topics will be discussed at a public budget hearing on Monday, May 19, including the Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School, the city assessor’s office, the treasurer’s office and administration and finance.
“When the budget comes out, the mayor has certainly vetted it,” McMilleon said. “He has met with the department heads. He has detailed information from them and he has talked with them as to what they can get by with and he has told them what he is going to provide. So I don’t necessarily anticipate any surprises.”
The budget hearing on Monday, June 2, may provide the Finance Committee with some surprises, however, since it will deal with the public library.
“The hearing about the library budget should be an interesting hearing,” McMilleon said. “We have had some back and forth from the mayor in terms of his analysis and from the (library) trustees who are saying they need to be level-funded.”
The police and fire departments will be the subect of the budget hearing on Wednesday, June 4, the day before the Finance Committee makes their recommendations to the City Council on June 5.
The City Council will then take their vote after a final public hearing on June 17. Each meeting will take place at City Hall beginning at 7 p.m.
“We have a very good, experienced council,” McMilleon said. “We have a lot of councilors who are very aware of the budgets and they will probably have some specific questions about how we are comparing with communities of like size.
They will be interested in staffing and better ways to spend our money and getting the most bang for our buck.
“Those are the kinds of questions we are looking to examine and get an answer on. Other than that, the budget has been gone over with a fine tooth comb by the mayor and his staff,” he said.