LYNN — Mayor Thomas M. McGee presented a $319.5 million budget to the City Council Tuesday and department heads testified they will live within it.
In a letter to the panel, the mayor said the 2019 balanced budget fully funds school spending, the city’s share of healthcare costs of $47.3 million, the first soon-to-be-hired full-time chief financial officer and essential public safety staff, including the possibility of 20 new firefighters through a federal grant.
Chief Stephen Archer told the council he has applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program.
“We are down 25 firefighters from five years ago,” Archer said. “We are cautiously optimistic on the grant and hope to hear from FEMA soon. This would get us back to where we should be.”
Under the terms of the SAFER grant, FEMA will pay most of cost for the firefighters’ salaries for three years. At that point, the city would be required to pick up the cost. The employees could not be terminated at the end of the 36-month program, he said.
Robert Stilian, the city’s acting parking director, said his department is very busy and could use additional staff. A $30,000 parking clerk, he said, brings the city $130,000 in revenue through ticketing.
“We will live within our budget; it’s about public safety, not money,” he said. “Our funding is adequate, but more would be beneficial.”
City Clerk Janet Rowe said she submitted a realistic budget and can live within it.
Christopher Gaeta, the city’s new director of assessing, said he cut the job of field assessor to save the city about $70,000 plus benefits. That position will be replaced by hiring a consultant, Patriot Properties, to do the work for $35,000, he said.
“It will be a loss, but we will see how it works,” he said.
Theresa Hurley, Lynn Public Library’s chief librarian, said her department has been level funded and will meet the state’s certification requirements.
“We’re good,” she said.
Personnel Director Joseph Driscoll said his office was level funded.
Michael Donovan, director of the Inspectional Services Department, said he’s down four people compared to four years ago.
“We are not be able to provide the same level of service as three years ago,” he said.
Police Chief Michael Mageary was not scheduled to testify.
The budget will be considered again at the next council meeting.
“We have to do more with less until we get a handle on our budget,” said Ward 1 City Councilor Wayne Lozzi.