Newton Comptroller Stephen Curley explained in further detail the fiscal year 2023 budget—first presented by Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller on April 19—to the City Council at a meeting on Wednesday.
The presentation elaborated on the technical details of the city’s $480 million budget. The city plans to collect $403.4 million—84 percent of the proposed budget—from taxation. Newton will also acquire funds through other sources, such as licensing fees and state and federal aid.
Curley said that the budget would allocate $84.6 million in wages for municipal employees, a $1.1 million increase from the previous fiscal year. An additional $800,000 will be used for worker compensation, and an additional $250,000 will go toward health insurance benefits compared to the current fiscal year.
The city will increase its snow and ice removal budget to $4.9 million, which is equal to the median of the last five years but $400,000 greater than the average over that time span.
The proposal also includes $100,000 for legal settlements. The amount is smaller than the amount used in each of the past five fiscal years. In the fiscal year 2022, settlements cost the city $1,777,106, with two cases accounting for $1.6 million.
Expenses that surpass the predicted budget, such as unanticipated legal settlements, will be covered by the $1.5 million in free cash the city holds, Curley said.
The budget reflects the projected increase in energy costs, Curley said. The total proposed budget for energy and utilities is $3.9 million, a 10 percent increase from FY 2022. The increase is due to estimated rises in the price of gasoline and diesel into the next year, according to Curley.
The price of water and sewage maintenance is likewise projected to increase in the next fiscal year, though the administration is uncertain to what degree, Curley said.
Councilors Becky Grossman, Brenda Noel, and Christopher Markiewicz said that analyzing trends in the budget would help the City Council make a more informed decision.
Markiewicz also suggested that the City Council compare Newton to other similar cities when considering the budget.
“Think how we compare with some other comparable cities,” he said. “I remember when the defund movement was active, I went and looked at what we spent on police as a percentage relative to other communities, and I was surprised—I actually thought the figure was pretty low.”
Discussions concerning the FY 2023 city budget will continue in the coming weeks. The City Council will vote on the budget in late May.
Featured Image by Steve Mooney / Heights Editor