Council Passes $196 Million Operating Budget

The Everett City Council, in their final meeting before summer recess, voted 8-2 to approve a $196,427,922 fiscal year 2019 operating budget for the City of Everett, and also approved by a 10-0 margin the $19,200,241 water and sewer enterprise fund budget, effectively authorizing $211,628,163 in spending in the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2018.

The budget was largely the same budget that was proposed by Mayor Carlo DeMaria approximately six weeks ago, with a few minor amendments totaling $285,171.

The reductions by the Council, which were all proposed and adopted during the Budget Committee hearings earlier this month, were mostly aimed at reigning in spending in the Mayor’s office, which suffered approximately $165,171 of the cuts. Also cut were $100,000 from the budget for unemployment insurance and $10,000 for an intern in the Planning and Development Department.

Councilors Fred Capone and Stephen Simonelli were the only two members to vote against the budget, as both had been in favor of making deeper cuts.

In fact, Capone had moved to eliminate the new Department of Operational Efficiency headed up by Omar Easy, which would have reduced approximately $213,000 in additional spending from the budget. However, when his first motion to amend the budget by removing $20,000 for professional services failed on a 5-5 tie, Capone chose not to pursue any additional motions, and the Council moved to vote on the entire amended budget.

Mayor DeMaria, who was present in the chamber during much of the debate, did make an impassioned plea to leave intact his proposed new Office of Operational Efficiency, pointing out that the only area of the budget that the Council seemed interested in making cuts, were in areas that support his administration’s objectives.

“We’ve always had a gentlemen’s agreement up here, you leave my budget alone and I would leave your budget alone; I let you hire who you want, pay them what you want, and you want to take $300,000 out of my budget, come on,” said DeMaria, who also noted that Dr. Omar Easy is already working in the role as director of the new department and that eliminating the funding could effectively cost Easy his job.

In a separate vote, the Council also approved by a unanimous vote, the inclusion of $12,500,000 into the budget as a way of keeping the tax rate down. The $12.5 million was the final pre-opening payment from the Community Host Agreement with the Encore Boston Harbor resort casino.

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