GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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November 21, 2012

Kirk eyes comp plan for city's free cash

The City Council has appropriated $176,500 from the city’s bounty of nearly $5 million in free cash for fiscal year 2012 to fix the heating systems and eliminate drafts at the elementary schools.

But on the heels of that emergency action Monday night at a special council meeting, Mayor Carolyn Kirk has also issued a comprehensive proposal for deciding on the use of the remainder of the bonus $4.8 million, certified by the state’s Department of Revenue earlier this month after the reconciliation of the city’s fiscal 2012 books.

“With the exception of the urgent requests and funding for the outskirt (fire) stations, the comprehensive plan will be submitted to the Council in early January,” Kirk said.

Her memo to the council, released to the Times Wednesday, includes reimbursing the stabilization fund the $616,000 for a charge of that amount appropriated to the School Department to cover the cost of the Charter School carried by the city last year .

As a secondary priority, Kirk said the administration would identify “opportunities to increase service levels (from those budgeted), such as opening fire stations more often, and filling shortfalls in the budget, mostly in school facilities.

“We’ll take the month of December and figure this out,” Kirk said in a telephone interview Wednesday.

The administration has already advanced the proposal to appropriate $246,000 to the Fire Department for use toward more consistent opening of the outskirt fire stations, primarily Bay View.

In this proposal, $46,000 would be set aside for overtime needed to expand the shifts to a size that would allow the stations to open. Sixteen at work on a shift allows Bay View to open, while fourteen are required to operate only Central and West Gloucester stations.

Another $200,000 would go into a departmental stabilization fund from which the chief, Eric Smith, could draw to create shifts of sufficient size to open Bay View and Magnolia stations. The contract requires eighteen to open Magnolia.

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