I want to thank the Board of Aldermen for their prudent management of taxpayer money in this year’s budget process. The Board spent long nights reviewing the proposed fiscal 2014 budget, asking thoughtful questions with care and seriousness, as they do every year.
This budget holds dear the values of patience, of analyzing the facts, projecting the long-term effects and then modestly investing in the growth of our city, while remaining ever-mindful that residents expect and deserve for us to maximize every last tax dollar.
On their last night of budget deliberations, I told the aldermen that I knew they, too, share those values, and that any savings they proposed for our constituents would be based on fidelity to the facts and to an efficient, strategic and inclusive government that always keeps its eyes firmly on the horizon.
The honorable Board did just that. In total, the aldermen cut $834,215 from the City’s $181.8 million budget proposal for the coming year, including:
- $350,000 in building insurance, savings available due to the City receiving and selecting an insurer’s bid lower than what had been conservatively budgeted.
- $236,366 in salaries across City departments, savings available due to those positions not being filled immediately on July 1.
- $93,349 in debt service, savings available due to the City receiving lower than conservatively budgeted interest rates on borrowing.
- $16,017 from the water and sewer enterprise funds.
In fulfilling their obligation to our constituents, the Board of Aldermen reaffirmed its belief in our city and our strategy of playing the long game, not relying on short-term gimmicks for revenues or cuts now that become a burden later. The Board and City Hall listened to our residents who said they want more education funding, more efficient city services that reach every person in Somerville, and a long-term sustainable fiscal strategy for this city, all while identifying strategic savings where possible. This budget delivers that to our residents, both now and in the future.
Like the Board’s deliberations, every budget request sent to the Board was carefully born of a fastidious process based on our core values. We are not satisfied with the status quo, but remain patient in a strategy recently lauded by Moody’s Investors Service, which specifically cited our “conservative budgeting approach” and “ambitious economic development plan” in reaffirming the City’s highest-ever credit rating.
We continue to maximize every last tax dollar, spending nearly the least per capita in Massachusetts while providing far more in services than most, and continuing to have a tax rate that, accounting for the residential exemption, remains lower than all of our neighbors save for the gigantic commercial base that is Cambridge.
This city has achieved so much in the past decade, with the help of a Board of Aldermen that has supported boldness in the face of ever-dwindling outside support, rising fixed costs and dwindling state aid. But we believed in ourselves, and that’s why others believe in Somerville today. We invested in ourselves, and that’s why others are investing in our city.
I thank Ward 2 Alderman Maryann Heuston for her steady leadership as chairwoman of the Finance Committee and each alderman for their leadership and thoughtful debate: Board President and At-Large Alderman Bill White; Vice President and At-Large Alderman John Connolly; At-Large Aldermen Bruce Desmond and Dennis Sullivan; and ward aldermen Maureen Bastardi (Ward 1), Tom Taylor (Ward 3), Tony Lafuente (Ward 4), Courtney O’Keefe (Ward 5), Rebekah Gewirtz (Ward 6) and Bob Trane (Ward 7).
With this budget and the Board of Aldermen’s thoughtful, critical work, we carry on that belief in ourselves. We reject the status quo. We believe that good government can improve the lives of our residents and fulfill our vision of an ever more prosperous future.
Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone