NEWBURYPORT — Mayor Donna Holaday has filed a proposed city budget for fiscal 2020 that would result in a 3.9% increase over the previous fiscal year.
The proposed $83,969,620 budget includes an additional $1 million for the city’s public schools for a total appropriation of $30.9 million.
Overall, schools, state funding formulas, solid waste, employee benefits and contractual increases are the major budget drivers, according to the mayor.
The budget was received by the City Council on May 15; councilors will hold a public hearing and must act on the budget within 45 days.
The projected total revenue for fiscal 2020 is $70,450,776, a nearly $3 million jump from fiscal 2019, in which the city saw a total estimated revenue of $67,560,702.
A slideshow presentation by Holaday to the council last week cited continued financial pressure from special education and lost school choice revenue among reasons for the increased school appropriation.
Holaday noted on Tuesday that of the $4.2 million the city is receiving in Chapter 70 funding from the state, $2.3 million will go to River Valley Charter School, which has 160 students, with $1.9 million going to the rest of the public school district, which educates more than 2,300 students.
“This is the first year that more money will go to the charter school,” Holaday said.
She also noted that health insurance costs for city employees have climbed 54.8% over the last decade and played a role in the projected budget increase. Salaries and benefits for city employees make up 67.6% of the budget, and are rising because of contractual increases along with contingency for two contracts expiring at the end of the year.
This coming fiscal year, the city will spend an additional $228,338 on the Department of Public Services’ Highway Division, part of which will be used to hire two full-time laborers. The new workers will focus on the parking garage, the city’s public restrooms and overall maintenance of downtown. The rest of this spending increase also comes from contractual and merit-based pay increases for staff.
The mayor said the budget also adds a “much-needed” full-time laborer to the Parks Department, which sees a $146,615 increase in funding that will also cover park supplies and equipment. The increase also includes $30,000 for downtown improvements that are funded by parking fees.
The Police Department is projected to receive a 6.8% increase of $270,909 to account for contractual pay increases for staff and an increase in the department’s overtime budget.
There will also be a 2.4% increase for the Social Services Department, part of which covers increased funding for a youth coordinator position at Newburyport Youth Services.
The budget also outlines the city’s goals for the next fiscal year, which include implementing an upgraded parking system, upgrading election equipment, planning for the management of the new parking garage, and planning for any upgrades to early voting ballots and the tabulation of ballots.
Also included is a breakdown of the city’s economy and taxes, as well as those of other nearby communities.
Overall, Holaday said she is pleased with the budget for the next fiscal year.
“I think it’s a really solid budget and it clearly identifies the priorities for the city going forward,” she said.
To see the city’s proposed budget for fiscal 2020, visit: www.cityofnewburyport.com/fy2020proposed.
Staff writer Jack Shea covers Newburyport City Hall. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 978-961-3154. Follow him on Twitter @iamjackshea.