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Holyoke City Council approves $144M budget for fiscal 2022; includes over $424K in cuts

June 23, 2021

HOLYOKE — The City Council approved a $144,158,967 budget for the coming fiscal year, which included $424,250 in cuts to balance the budget. The council added nearly $900,000 to the Waste Water Treatment Plant budget.

Acting Mayor Terence Murphy proposes increasing the Sewer Use Fees to close a nagging annual deficit in the Sewer Enterprise Fund.

In an email, Murphy thanked city departments for helping formulate the Fiscal 2022 budget, which takes effect July 1

“I want to thank Tanya Wdowiak, our city auditor, and Kate Jackowski and Anthony Dulude, our treasurer and chief assessor, for providing comprehensive funding analysis,” he said. Jackowski, the acting City Treasurer, previously served as Tax Collector.

Murphy added the council recognized community needs when reviewing and balancing the budget, typically a page-by-page analysis where councilors recommend cuts or additions.

“To fully balance the budget, I do hope that the council will positively address the sewer deficit, and if they do, the next mayor will be in a much better position than I was at the start of the process. This will also improve the city’s bond rating status according to our financial advisers,” Murphy said.

In Fiscal 2020, the council passed a $141.36 million budget that nixed $1 million in proposed spending by Mayor Alex B. Morse, who described his budget version as a “placeholder” until Congress passed federal stimulus relief.

At the time, Morse and the council applied a conservative approach to budgeting as the COVID-19 pandemic raged and state revenues remained an unknown variable.

This year, the council made several cuts to the Holyoke Police Department, including $150,000 in overtime costs, $75,000 for an unfilled captain position, $35,000 in court appearances, and $6,000 for vehicle repairs and maintenance.

A majority of councilors prevented further cuts to the HPD’s Court Appearances and Vehicle Maintenance Accounts totaling $62,000.

The Holyoke Fire Department was spared $160,000 in overtime cuts. The City Solicitor experienced a $20,000 loss to the Professional Services Account. Like several tops spots in city government, the City Solicitor is managed by an acting director, Attorney Lisa Ball.

The council also cut $60,000 to the Demo of Unsafe Buildings Account and $15,000 to the Department of Public Works for snow removal and refuse collection. The Office of Veterans Services offered up a $20,000 line item that would not affect benefits or services for veterans.

While the City of Holyoke will receive $28 million in American Rescue Plan funding split over two years, the windfall does not affect the budgets for Fiscal 2022 and 2033. The money will come in the form of federal Community Block Grants.

Murphy is accepting spending proposals from city departments and other entities on how to earmark the American Rescue Plan dollars.

Holyoke Media live-streamed the City Council’s Monday special session. The City Council announced summer Recess. The full council will not meet July 6 and 20 or Aug. 17.

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