Thursday, November 12, 2020

More About the 2021 Budget

On Tuesday, Mayor Kamal Johnson delivered his budget message to the Common Council. Unlike mayors in the past, who have provided specific budget numbers and compared what was proposed with what had been budgeted in the previous year, Johnson presented the budget in broader strokes. He described the 2021 budget as a "barebones budget" and asserted, "Every department has seen a decrease or kept the same as 2020." He made assurances that the budget will not increase property taxes or "affect our most vital city services."

Last year at this time, in the post about the proposed 2020 budgetGossips reported the change in the budgets for the four departments with the biggest budgets. It makes sense to revisit those numbers today.
  • Police Department  $3,007,421 was budgeted in 2020; $2,950,829 is proposed for 2021. This is a decrease of 1.88 percent.
  • Department of Public Works  $1,978,687 was budgeted in 2020; $2,000,940 is proposed for 2021. This is an increase of 0.1 percent.
  • Youth Department  $580,150 was budgeted in 2020; $606,805 is proposed for 2021.  This is an increase of 4.6 percent. It will be remembered that in January 2020 Nick Zachos, director of the Youth Department, sought a budget amendment to reinstate $72,893 that had been cut from his proposed 2020 budget in the BEA review process. Resolution 18 passed on January 21, 2020, transferred $35,000 from the fund balance to the Youth Department. Given this, the $606,805 proposed for 2021 is actually $8,345 less than the budget for 2020, which, with the additional $35,000, amounted to $616,150.
  • Fire Department  $243,000 was budgeted in 2020; $243,000 is proposed for 2021. There is no change.
Also of interest, there is a 3.75 percent increase in the budget for the mayor's office, which is the $5,000 being paid to mayor's aide, Michael Chameides, as additional compensation for his role a ADA Coordinator, and a 12 percent decrease in the Common Council budget, accounted for primarily by Council president Tom DePietro's decision to forgo his $12,500 salary in 2021. The amount budgeted for attorneys in the 2021 budget is $153,500, 7.7 percent more than what was budgeted 2020.

At the final meeting of the Board of Estimate and Apportionment last Friday, city treasurer Heather Campbell reported there was a gap of $497,763 between anticipated revenue and expenses. The plan was to take that money from the fund balance. On Tuesday, Johnson indicated that "just over a half million" would be taken from the fund balance to close the gap in the 2021 budget. He also assured the Council that he was "conscious of not depleting our fund balance."

A public hearing on the proposed 2021 budget is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 17. The Council will be voting on the budget two days later, at a special meeting scheduled for 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 19.  


  1. So, there were no cuts. Didn't the Mayor request a few months ago of all dept heads that they offer 5 and 10 percent cuts? Have things improved on the balance sheet enough since then to obviate the dept budget cuts? DPW got a few more dollars this year! I tuned into a zoom meeting recently and heard our Mayor say "If we don't get assistance from the State or federal government, we are in serious trouble." Later I heard the treasurer mention the words "bankrupt at the end of 2021," if we are not careful and tax revenues don't rebound. And still, essentially no cuts. If this weren't so dire, city hall's approach would be laughable. Last thought: Kamal says this a "bare bones budget," but it's the same as last year. So last year's budget was also "bare bones?"

  2. Keep in mind that our Department of Public Works employs 30 full-time workers and 6 part-timers. The superintendent, Robert Perry, takes home just under $100,000 a year.

  3. Why are you worried. They will get money from the feds. Biden got elected. And who cares how much money someone makes. The city offers them that and they work for it. Do you think you could do Mr Perry’s job? If so apply. I’d love to see all these people who complain about these go out on a Thursday and pick up trash. Or get called out to fix a water break. Or get called out when there needs to be something done at the sewer plant.