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Mayor’s Proposed FY25 City Budget

Posted on May 9, 2024

The following is a snapshot overview of the FY25 proposed budget in detail (note: these are subject to change between now and June 30, 2024):

The proposed FY25 budget presented to the City Council is based on what we understand to be our revenue and expense projections and a fairly balanced understanding of Holyoke’s municipal service needs. Although the Senate budgetary numbers have been recently announced, State revenue and expense projections are based on the House Preliminary Budget. We are also anticipating another year of increases in net school aid which will impact on our local contribution to fund our public schools due to the Student Opportunity Act. Transportation costs are going up significantly as well as our health insurance which has absorbed the little bit of excess capacity we have worked hard to build since the beginning of my term in office. Because of these increases coupled with our contractual obligations and COLA increases for retirees and Schedule A employees of the City Ordinances, we tried to keep department budgets within a 2% increase or close to it.

The proposed budget includes average moderate revenue increases in net local revenue growth to assist in closing the ARPA revenue replacement gap that existed from fiscal years 2022-2024 while remaining somewhat conservative. However, these estimates remain conservative to help continue to mitigate any circumstances that contribute toward uncertainty. In previous year budgets we have used ARPA revenue replacement funds to fill revenue gaps caused by COVID. This budget does not include any dependency on ARPA revenue replacement dollars. The budget does not propose a Proposition 2½ Override over the levy limit or any reduction in services. The budget I am presenting also leaves on the table only a small surplus, however when the new real estate and personal property valuations are certified by the state, this surplus will grow and at that time additional adjustments can be made. Because of the conservative estimations of receipts and the maximum new growth potential not yet realized, our excess capacity may be greater than anticipated, which offers the city a little more flexibility to pivot under unforeseen circumstances. The budget is a moving target with new revenue projections being realized every day. We will know more about our revenue capacity as we get closer to the fiscal year-end and calendar year-end prior to setting the tax-rate. I anticipate making additional adjustments to the budget as we get closer to calendar year-end so that we can strike a better budgetary and service need balance.

Although the city is looking forward to seeing moderate growth in some local revenues—the tax base, one of the largest sources of revenue for the city, is always limited by Proposition 2½ regardless of economic factors. This budget relied on a combination of conservative budget controls, creative budgeting solutions, and moderate favorable growth in local revenues and state aid to develop a balanced budget and no need for a Proposition 2½ override.

In this budget, notable changes include but are not limited to:

  • Decreases of Office Supplies throughout City Hall/Annex Offices, consolidated at Procurement Office.
  • Increases in salaries through budget per negotiated union contracts.
  • 2% COLA increases for non-union employees reflected in the Schedule A of the City Ordinances.
  • Retirement: COLA increased by $291,762, totaling $12,563,043. The funding includes an increase from $14,000 to $15,000 in the COLA base for eligible retirees.
  • Health Insurance: increased by $1,189,535, totaling $13,084,880.
  • City Long Term Debt: reduced by $250,108.
  • School Department: 13% Local Contribution Increased, totaling $22,887,823
    • Required local contribution – $730,977 increased, totaling $13,183,748.
    • HPS Transportation and Leases – $2,298,207 increased, totaling $10,435,052.
  • Mayor’s Office: Added Chief Financial Administrative Officer (CAFO) – $150,000
  • Auditor’s Office: Added Professional Accountant-HPD – $70,409 to strengthen oversight controls of finances at the Police Department.
  • Procurement Office: Added Central Office Supplies, consolidated supplies line for City Hall/Annex and DPW Offices – $18,640.
  • Assessor’s Office: Principal Clerk position renamed to Administrative Assistant.
  • Treasurer’s Office: Deputy Treasurer, Floating Clerk, and Senior Deputy Treasurer are renamed to Payroll Specialist, Administrative Assistant, and Sr. Payroll Specialist.
  • Tax Collector: Head Clerk renamed to Administrative Assistant.
  • City Clerk’s Office: Renamed Principal Clerk and Head Clerk to Administrative Assistant and Sr. Administrative Assistant.
  • Conservation Office: Added a part-time Administrative Administrative – $25,000.
  • Planning & Economic Development Office: Renamed Development Specialist, Head Clerk, and Head Administrative Clerk to Economic Development Admin Assistant, Planning Administrative Assistant, and Licensing Clerk/Admin Assistant.
  • Police Department: added a Crime Analyst – $70,407.
  • Police Department: Data Management is increasing due to change with records management system.
  • Building Department: Head Admin Clerk and Head Clerk renamed to Sr. Administrative Assistant and Administrative Assistant.
  • Emergency Management: Moved public safety communications services to Emergency Management budget – $35,000.
  • DPW: Renamed Power Shovel Operator to Hoisting Equipment Operator.
  • DPW: Funded for two tree climbers at Forestry, one position is currently filled – total $106,447.
  • Board of Health: Head Clerk and Floating Principal Clerk renamed to Senior Admin Assistant and Admin Assistant.
  • Library: Financial Manager position changed to full-time – $46,789.
  • Parks & Recreation: Head Administrative Clerk renamed to Administrative Assistant.

Lastly, free cash has not yet been certified and we expect to have notification of certification from the Massachusetts Department of Revenue soon. Once we receive the notification, I will present to the city council strategic investments of the available free cash for capital improvements, investments in various reserve accounts, among other one-time related investments.

Members of the public, the progress we have achieved to-date is largely thanks to the support of the City Council. Without their support in many of the initiatives designed to achieve incremental progress on how we provide services, it would be difficult to get anything done. Therefore, I thank members of the council for all their support and guidance. Although we have made a lot of progress in how we manage our resources and offer services, I continue to be the first to admit we still have a lot of work to do. However the council decides to offer support in this proposed FY25 budget, I will be sure to work within the limits of what is made available.

Scheduled budget hearings with the City Council and department to go over the proposed budget (note: City Council can only cut but cannot add):

May 16th:

  • Mayor
  • Solicitor
  • Treasurer
  • Assessor
  • Auditor
  • Tax Collector
  • Police Department

May 28th:

  • Library
  • Wistariahurst Museum
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Emergency Management
  • Planning
  • Council on Aging
  • Community Development
  • Purchasing
  • Fire Department

May 29th:

  • Veterans Services
  • War Memorial
  • School Department
  • Personnel
  • Weights and Measures
  • Building Department
  • Board of Health
  • Public Works
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