NEWBURYPORT — The mayor is getting ready to put together the second annual operating budget of his term and said he doesn’t see many new employees coming onboard.

The city is now operating on a $78.6 million budget, up from $74.9 million the prior year.

Despite the deeper pool of money, Mayor Sean Reardon said the economic climate nationwide has made him realize the city is looking at a tighter budget situation.

“I think we need to be really mindful of what we’re trying to do in the city and how it’s going to best help residents moving forward,” he said. “We’re going to have to do that across the board, and in all of our departments.”

The mayor added that he doesn’t foresee adding many, if any, staff this year.

“There are a couple of different departments that we are looking at and this is consistent with where we started last year,” he said.

School Superintendent Sean Gallagher proposed a $40.1 million, level-services operating budget for 2023-24, up 5% from $35.2 million approved last year.

Since then, the School Committee has received budget proposals from each of the district’s four schools and is expected to approve its own number by the end of April.

“(Gallagher),” Reardon said, “is at the point where he can get into the nuts and bolts of his budget. He will look for ways to find that money that’s already in the budget and then he will figure out what the priorities are that he is going to be asking for this year.”

Reardon also said he began having individual budget meetings with his department heads last week and expects to be going full steam once the School Committee budget is delivered.

“We really go into their budgets, line by line, and look for ways to either save money or look for places that we have gaps that we think we need to make additional asks for,” he said. “I hope we have a great conversation about the budget and hopefully we can find the funds to finance whatever the School Committee puts forward.”

The mayor pointed to the addition of an outreach specialist at the Council on Aging, which worked out well last year, as an example of where a new position has quickly justified itself.

“This year, we’re going to look at some other departments and see if we can get them some more help and bandwidth,” Reardon said. “Or we might be looking at the setup or structure of some of these departments and see if they can’t be tweaked and worked on to help with workflow and productivity.”

Chief of Staff Andrew Levine said the City Council will also need to approve the capital improvement plan at the same time it is adopting the operating budget in June, thanks to a home rule petition approved by former Gov. Charlie Baker last year.

“That’s new this year,” he said. “We’re doing our capital improvement plan in advance so it can be ready at the same time, which is nice. That way, we’ll know what the numbers look like together.”

The council also approved the mayor’s plan to roll the Parks Department into the Department of Public Services in a 10-1 vote on Feb. 27. Reardon estimates the move will save the city roughly $100,000 a year and said that is something he’s very excited about.

“It’s nice having that boat behind us now and that really helps us as we start thinking about the budget for DPS and Parks for next year,” he said.

Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Newburyport for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.

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