In his "Budget Message" (pg. 4 on pdf budget) Correia states,"we have been able to mitigate personnel cuts and avoid lay-offs in City departments (outside the school department) by including no cost of living increase for employees." However, the budget later refers (pg. 11) to the cost of living increases that the City Councilors will be receiving in the 2009 budget.
- I realize that the Councilors are elected public officials and not exactly "employees" but it doesn't seem equitable to give them cost of living increases when the majority must go without.
Despite Correia's claims that we have been living outside of our means and cuts are necessary to balance the budget, (pg. 63) Correia has nearly doubled the Mayor's Office budget from $431,740 in 2008 to $808,378 in 2009. This huge increase is in the form of salaries and wages.
- The increase includes itemized salary expenses such as health insurance and retirement contributions that were not listed on the previous years budget breakdown so it isn't clear exactly what the jump in salaries/wages. Not including the itemizations, the difference is an increase of over $200,000 at the least.
The salary increases of the Mayor's Office seem frivolous in a budget that is cutting fire facilities, apparatus, and 16 fire positions (pg. 16). Correia (pg. 16) says "Closing an apparatus, even for a day, means more risk to firefighters and neighborhoods, may require more apparatus to respond to larger fires (depleting reserve forces), and may occasionally require greater reliance on mutual aide. The department will do its best to manage this additional risk, given the present budgetary constraints."
- Correia acknowledges the additional risks but proceeded to cut in spite of that. I can't help but laugh a little that part of Correia's budget plan is to greatly rely on mutual aide (whereby emergency responders from other jurisdictions would lend assistance to us frequently). What happens if Swansea, Somerset, Assonet, etc have the same brilliant budget balancing idea - rely on Fall River for mutual aide.....
Whether I agree with the expenditures/cuts or not, the budget does appear to be more organized and itemized than years past a fact that Correia was more than happy to boast at the (perhaps deserving) expense of the Lambert administration.