Mayor Carlo DeMaria and his Finance Department will present the Fiscal Year 2021 operating budget to a joint meeting of the City Council and School Committee on Sept. 3.
The City Budget process has been dragged out by COVID-19 complications for some time as the Finance Department waited to hear about potential financial help from the federal government, and reassurances from state government about what to expect for Local Aid payments.
Since July, the City has been operating on a month-by-month budget plan that includes some layoffs, a great deal of restructuring and hour reductions for City employees. It was a conservative approach taken as the City didn’t know what lay ahead.
Now, last month, they received assurance from State government leaders that they will be level funded from last year, and there will also be a bucket of money included that will account for inflation. Already, the School Department has deliberated and passed its Operations Budget last week, with an increase of about $400,000. It was a far cry from what was expected by the schools in the first year of the Student Opportunity Act, but it was also not as bad as the 10 percent to 15 percent cuts that were expected.
The Joint Budget Meeting will be the beginning of laying out what will be a complicated budget likely to commence on Oct. 1.
After the meeting Thursday, Council President Rosa DiFlorio will set out a schedule of budget hearings to go through the submission piece by piece and then have a vote on the matter.
Once approved, there is a good possibility many of the cuts and hour reductions made in June could be restored, but that will be up for debate in the coming months.
Typically, the City and School Budget is submitted in May to the Council, and hearings are held throughout June. In most years, it is to be passed before July 1, when the new fiscal year starts for municipalities.