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Council restores cuts in '07 budget

The City Council's spending plan for 2007 is back in place after lawmakers voted unanimously to override three vetoes issued by Mayor Sam Teresi last week.

In a special session Monday, lawmakers voted to restore cuts totaling $350,000. They included using an additional $150,000 from the accumulated fund balance, $50,000 from the yearly contingency account and a $150,000 cut in the employee's health care fund.

Teresi called them all "one shots" that will actually hurt the city's financial position.

Finance Committee Chairwoman Linda Albert said the budget resulted from the elimination of positions, the reduction of some positions to part time and general cuts.

She said Council members believed they could safely use an extra $50,000 from the contingency budget because they had not entirely used the $200,000 allocated to that line item the past 3 years.

As for the mayor's claim that the cut to the health care fund was "arbitrary," Albert said members analyzed the matter and felt it was reasonable to subtract $150,000 from that account.

A switch in health care providers was also cited as a cost savings.

Albert's only concern was an excessive use of the fund balance in the future. But she said members had to keep taxpayers in mind.

City Council President John Calamunci agreed. "We were still hearing an outcry from the community that they needed a break," he said. He noted that the final budget calls for a tax rate decrease of 23 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, as opposed to the mayor's proposed a 67 cent tax increase.

Calamunci said he hopes the Council will continue to work well with the mayor on future budgets.

"The mayor has his philosophy on the financial end of it; and we may have a difference of opinion, but I think . . . we're all going to work together to make this thing work," he said.

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