The following is a proposed supplemental budget for FY24 on its way to the City Council for approval (note: these figures are subject to change until final vote of the City Council).
The updated figures are based on current revenue and expense projections to-date including revenue figures from the states Conference Committee and an understanding of Holyoke’s municipal service needs. The budget does not propose a Proposition 2½ override or any reduction in services, instead it looks forward to increasing services specifically at DPW, Board of Health, and Police Department. It also looks forward to covering shortfalls, honoring newly negotiated union contracts, and funding a comprehensive public safety plan.
The original proposed city budget submitted in June 2023, we continued our exercise of fiscal restraint to preserve gains so we can maintain a position to better mitigate potential shortfalls and continue to improve our management of capital needs. This proposed supplemental budget takes advantage of the outcome of our strategy. One shortfall of note is Sewer Operations. With not enough revenue to cover expenses and an appropriate rate to cover deficit not voted on, we need to raise and appropriate through taxation to cover the deficit which will have an impact on our excess capacity and our tax rate. The deficit for FY23 and anticipated deficit for FY24 will be raised in the tax rate recap sheet. This can change if the City Council votes on an appropriate sewer rate before setting the tax rate by the end of calendar year. $303,625.85
In this supplemental budget, we are proposing an additional $2,171,406 to operate in FY24 and and $1,557,012 to cover sewer deficit. This supplemental budget remains balanced with a surplus of roughly $303,625.85. Included in this budget figure is ARPA revenue replacement and interest revenue. In the ARPA revenue replacement includes funds to support Ezekiel’s Plan / Operation Safe Streets which will be supplemented with interest revenue. The unborn child who died October 4 was named Ezekiel. Ezekiel’s Plan / Operation Safe Streets will launch Holyoke’s comprehensive approach to public safety.
Because of the continuation of conservative estimates of receipts and new growth potential not yet realized, our excess capacity may be greater than anticipated. As you’re aware, the budget is a moving target with new revenue projections being realized every day while unanticipated changes to operations and services continue. It doesn’t help to be behind with posting revenue receipts at the Treasurer’s Office, but the department does the best they can with what’s made available. I do hope we can continue to work together with the public and the City Council to bring the necessary structural changes we need to our form of government so we can better manage our municipal finances and better project our limitations to improve our ability to make informed decisions on how we commit limited resources.
Below I have outlined changes reflected in this supplemental for FY24:
- The largest increase reflected in the tax rate recap sheet is due to the FY2023 and FY2024 Sewer Enterprise Fund revenue shortfalls, $384,534 and $1,172,478, respectively. A combined total of $1,557,012.
- Fire Local Union Contract, increase of $723,005.
- $27,600 for PSA. Contract not yet negotiated, however it is proposed to have amount in contract negotiations line in Mayor’s budget as a placeholder.
- $81,000 for NAGE. Contract not yet negotiated, however it is proposed to have amount in contract negotiations line in Mayor’s budget as a placeholder.
- $97,871 increase of liability and damage insurance to close a budget shortfall.
- 2% increase in non-union Schedule A Ordinance salaries.
- Minor adjustments (increases and decreases) in expenses throughout including any surplus’s realized in salary line items.
- Procurement & Purchasing Department – Reduced budget by $10,364 but looking for $1,800 to cover a phone usage audit that has an anticipated savings realized of about $6,000 annually.
- Assessor’s Department – $21,250 added to budget to meet contract amounts for professional assessment services and cover services needed for state compliance of the 5-year state mandated recertification cycle.
- Assessor’s Department – Reduced Office and Professional Supplies line by $500.
- Treasurer’s Office – Increase of $100,000 to pay for land court expenses.
- Treasurer’s Office – Increase of $30,000 for postage which is used by all departments.
- Treasurer’s Office – Reduced Office & Professional Supplies by $1,000.
- Solicitor’s Office – Increase of $25,275 to cover costs of external investigator on a personnel matter at Police Department.
- Solicitor’s Office – Reduced Office and Professional Supplies line by $500.
- Police Department – Reduced Lieutenant line via vacant position.
- Police Department – Increase of $40,000 to hire a Crime Analyst.
- Police Department – Reduced Office & Professional Supplies by $10,000.
- Police Department – Reduced Legal Defense Fund by $1,000.
- Police Department – Reduced drug testing line by $1,000.
- Tax Collector’s Office – Reduced banking services line by $2,000.
- Tax Collector’s Office – Reduced Office and Professional Supplies by $500.
- Personnel Department – Reduced Office and Professional Supplies by $500.
- City Clerk’s Office – Moved surplus funds from telephone usage and postage to cover overtime deficit.
- City Clerk’s Office – Reduced Office and Professional Supplies by $500.
- Fire Department – Reduced Repair and Maintenance by $500.
- Fire Department – Reduced education and training by $500.
- Fire Department – Reduced Office and Professional Supplies by $1,000.
- Fire Department – Reduced CPR line by $1,000.
- Building Department – Reduced overall budget by $107,725 with some adjustments.
- Building Department – Reduced telephone usage line by $2,000.
- Building Department – Reduced Office and Professional Supplies line by $500.
- Building Department – Reduced small tools and equipment line by $400.
- Building Department – Increased clothing expense line by $1,000.
- DPW / Forestry Division – Reduced repair and maintenance for vehicles by $1,000.
- DPW / Forestry Division – Reduced supplies small tools and equipment by $500.
- DPW / Forestry Division – Reduced debris disposal by $10,000.
- DPW / Engineer Division – Reduced dues and subscriptions by $500.
- DPW / Administration – An increase of $5,000 for education and training.
- DPW / Administration – Reduced Office and Professional Supplies line by $500.
- DPW / Highways and Bridges – Reduced budget by $51,345 with adjustments.
- DPW / Auto Equipment Maintenance – Reduced budget by $25,300 with adjustments.
- DPW / Refuse Collection – Increased HMEO’s to support two more positions, $57,065.
- DPW / Refuse Collection – Increased hazardous waste collection by $7,000 to cover shortfall.
- DPW / Refuse Collection – Increase recycling contract line by $96,000 to cover shortfall.
- DPW / Refuse Collection – Reduced supplies tools, and equipment line by $500.
- Public Safety – $1,000,000 added using ARPA revenue replacement and interest revenue to launch Ezekiel’s Plan / Operation Safe Streets, a comprehensive approach that focuses on proactive police enforcement strategies, enhanced surveillance, hiring additional officers, increasing inspection capacity, engaging in community response efforts, implementing tenant and neighborhood protection strategies, and strengthening efforts for neighborhood outreach and engagement.
- Health Department – Reduced vacant buildings line by $5,000.
- Health Department – Reduced animal control services line that had remaining surplus of $1,522.
- Health Department – Reduced telephone usage line by $3,500.
- Health Department – Reduced Office and Professional Supplies line by $500.
- Health Department – An increase of $27,000 to Sanitarian I position to bring on another health inspector.
- Council on Aging – A reduction of $5,000 from the Driver line that will be raised under Claims and Damages to mitigate a personnel matter.
- Council on Aging – A new line of $4,000 for Overtime to minimize the need to use Comp. Time.
- Council on Aging – An increase of $2,000 for motor vehicle fuel.
- Veteran’s Department – A reduction of overall budget of $31,269 with adjustments in various lines.
- Library – An increase of $7,500 for library books. War Memorial Commission – A reduction of $1,500 from repair and maintenance of building and grounds.
- Insurances, Claims, Benefits, etc. – An increase of $97,871 for city liability and damage insurance to cover shortfall.
- Insurances, Claims, Benefits, etc. – an increase of $55,000 at claims and damages line to cover EPA fine which is $50,000, and personnel matter from Council on Aging which is $5,000.
I am also still waiting on the following items that remain in council committee that are important to the administration:
- Housing Navigator / Homeless Liaison position to be reflected in Schedule A – currently in Ordinance Committee.
- CAFO position to reflected in the Schedule A – currently in Ordinance Committee.
- Adopt Finance Management Policies Manual – currently in Ordinance Committee.
- Petition to change Treasurer position from elected to appointed – currently in Charter and Rules Committee.
In addition to these, we are forwarding a new order for the City Council to consider supporting instead that establishes a Finance Department. However the council chooses to proceed, please keep in mind the shared goal which is to develop a system that strengthens internal controls, avoid liability, and protects our resources.
Lastly, I strongly encourage you to call your City Councilors and please encourage them to vote on the recommended sewer rate of the DPW Commission (click to review DPW memo regarding recommendation). It is critical for this enterprise to be self sustained so that we are not shifting the burden to our general operations sustained by taxpayers. The current state gives me almost no flexibility to respond to future unforeseen circumstances and shortfalls.
In closing, I want to share with the public the pleasure it has been working with each of the City Councilors! They have been extremely supportive and also helpful to meet the needs of constituents. However they decide to offer support in this supplemental, I will be sure to work within the limits of what’s made available.
Joshua A. Garcia, Mayor