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Council makes minor adjustments to FY 2012 budget

Date: 6/22/2011

June 22, 2011

By Debbie Gardner

Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD — The City Council took a scalpel, not an axe, to Mayor Daniel Knapik's $121 million fiscal year 2012 (FY12) budget during its review with the Finance Committee on June 14.

The council subsequently approved the FY12 budget, which had been reduced to $120.9 million, at its regular meeting on June 16.

At the June 14 meeting, Ward Five City Councilor and Finance Chair Richard Onofrey reviewed the mayor's recommended appropriations with the council department by department, noting when the Finance Committee had not recommended a cut, and deferring to fellow Finance Committee members At Large City Councilor David Flaherty and Ward Six City Councilor Christopher Crean for any recommended reductions to a department.

The most significant cut was a reduction of $250,000 from the School Department appro-priation. Councilor Flaherty initially argued for a larger reduction, up to $750,000, based upon a pattern of consistent overspending in the School Department.

"We ask them every year to control their budget, but they are $3 million behind again," Flaherty said, adding that Mayor Knapik was appropriating an additional $1 million to help cover School Department expenses, and the Department was carrying over money from net year's budget to fill the gap.

At Large City Councilor John Beltrandi argued that increasing the School Department budget cut would not affect the teachers or administrators, but would "filter down to the kids."

He said as the council learned the previous year when they made significant cuts to the school budget "we can't control their contractual obligations."

Other cuts included $504,000 from funding for the city's health insurance fund, $22,630 from the Wastewater Treatment Department's overtime fund and $38,600 in an over-appropriation from the Technology Center's capital purchase account.

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