Town Meeting Amends FY22 Budget and Adds $ 500,000 for Deficits | Burlington

BURLINGTON – Last night, town hall decisively passed a mandate article, effectively amending the FY2022 (FY22) operating budget by adding $ 500,000.

The operating budget for fiscal year 22 was approved last May by the municipal assembly. This action is considered “budget neutral”, with any increase in expenditure being offset by an equal increase in income. The source of the additional revenue comes from federal funding related to COVID.

The American Rescue Plan Act authorized funding for communities through the Coronavirus State & Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. The City of Burlington has been allocated two rounds of funding, for the Direct Municipal Allocation ($ 2,996,347) and the City portion of the Middlesex County Allocation ($ 5,560,459), for a total of $ 8,556,806.

The spending limits are “much less restrictive” and the qualifying spending period is longer than previous federal funding programs related to COVID.

The main categories of expenditure were described at the city meeting:

– Support public health spending

Fund COVID-19 mitigation efforts, medical spending, behavioral health care, and some public health and safety personnel.

– Address the negative economic impacts caused by COVID

This includes economic damage to workers, households, small businesses, affected industries and the public sector.

– Replace lost public sector revenue

Use this funding to provide government services to the extent of the reduction in income experienced as a result of the pandemic.

– Offer a wage bonus to essential workers

Provide additional support to those who have and will bear the greatest health risks due to their service in critical infrastructure sectors.

– Invest in water, sewers and broadband infrastructure

Make the necessary investments to improve access to drinking water, support vital infrastructure for wastewater and stormwater and expand access to high-speed Internet.

“Tackling this public health emergency and all of its ramifications continues to be a top priority for the administration,” said city accountant / deputy city administrator John Danizio. “To this end, a portion of these funds will be set aside to finance any unforeseen public health expenditure necessary to fight the pandemic on an ongoing basis. “

In order to maximize the impact of these funds after allocating part of them to support public health spending, the Administration will focus on the replacement of revenues and the financing of water and sewer infrastructure projects. The extended nature of the federal COVID funding cycle offers city officials the opportunity to develop a detailed plan to see these initiatives come to fruition, while hoping the local economy will recover.

“Because of the extended time frame for using these funds, the city can develop a multi-year income replacement plan, which will allow us to reduce our reliance on these funds over time as we grow. ‘local economy will recover,’ explained Danizio. “The balance of available funds will be used to offset a portion of the $ 15 million water projects or the $ 4 million sewer infrastructure project on this municipal assembly mandate.”

Compensate for financial losses

The expenditure plan for fiscal year 22 is tied to a commitment of $ 2 million, which includes the $ 500,000 that was approved last night. Another $ 1.5 million, or $ 500,000 per year for three years, is slated for income replacement to help mitigate the pandemic’s effect on Burlington’s economy. Last May, Town Meeting cut the budget by $ 2.1 million, so the $ 3 million is intended to help city departments replenish some of what was lost. The remaining $ 5.5 million will remain in grant accounts and will be used as needed. Danizio made it clear that “we have not yet to decide … we think that [$5.5M] and don’t spend it right away.

“The decline in local revenues resulted in a multi-million dollar budget cut in FY21 and a stable revenue projection for FY22,” Danizio detailed.

Unfortunately, this has resulted in many municipal departments having to cut their budgets by eliminating positions and / or reducing working hours.

“This revenue replacement would give us the ability to restore the cuts that have been made, and do so without adding to the tax levy (the amount the city collects from property taxes),” Danizio confirmed. “This item will be in addition to the budgets of the chosen board / administrator, accounting, appraiser, building, schools, board of health, council on aging, youth and family services, library and recreation. “

The administration provided an example of the use of the $ 5.5 million, noting a project involving the engineering department and architectural design of a new PFAS filtration addition at the water treatment plant. by Mill Pond. Again, it was pointed out that the $ 5.5 million does not have a clear focus at this point, but will be kept as a stabilization grant fund for the city and will use it. if needed.

Several members of the town hall objected to the purpose of the money, with some preferring that the funds be returned to residents in order to prevent tax increases for residents. However, the vast majority felt that the primary use of the funds was logical and appropriate.

Town Meeting had no problem supporting and passing the article on the $ 500,000 mandate by a clear majority with 70 for, 27 against and 6 abstentions.

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