GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

May 18, 2013

The Mayors Desk: A look at fiscal '14 budget

On May 7, the administration presented to City Council our proposed city budget for fiscal 2014, which begins July 1.

This is the sixth balanced budget produced by my administration and it emphasizes a few important goals: protection of the city’s strong financial position and bond rating; fully funded Sawyer Free Library; increase of $1 million to the Gloucester Public Schools; and settlement of most union contracts.

The total net available for appropriation is out of the general fund is $90,583,526 which is a 2.3 percent increase over last year. The local estimated revenues for FY14 have been carefully reviewed for any upward trends that seem to be holding steady. Conservative revenue estimates will continue to guide us, however, we have increased revenue estimates in some cases, and decreased or held level in other cases.

This is the first year of the city’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) arrangement with Equity Industrial Turbines, LLC, owners of the two wind turbines. This amount, starting with $40,000, in fiscal 2014 and increasing by 2½ percent annually thereafter will remain for the next 25 years as a source of revenue for the city. Revenues for the wind turbines themselves is conservatively budgeted at $350,000.

New growth on the tax base shows consistent growth and is estimated at $646,192 which is up approximately $114,000 from fiscal 2013.

The recommended funding level for Gloucester Public Schools is close to a 3 percent increase over last year’s Council appropriation or an increase of $1 million. Total net savings to the city as a result of the charter school closing is $1,322,284; these savings have been utilized in the fiscal 2014 budget for school department purposes only and include:

A $1 million increase to School Department budget;

A $300,000 increase to school facilities budget.

A nearly $600,000 increase to education line items carried in the city budget such as retired teachers health insurance, regional vocational school, school choice sending tuition, etc.

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