Friday, June 14, 2013
In addition to covering pay raises, increased health insurance costs and city assessments, the new budget adds several positions to the School Department and a facilities manager for the city as well as another park maintenance supervisor.
Starting July 1, the city of Peabody is on track to spend just over $146 million for Fiscal 2014, following approval of the new budget plan this week by the City Council. The increase from the current year’s budget is $5.46 million in total or 3.8 percent, but that number is somewhat misleading, according to city finance officials. That’s because $2.2 million for retired teachers’ health benefits will be reallocated from state and county assessments into the city’s operating budget. Finance Director Patricia Schaffer explained that, due to the city dropping Blue Cross Blue Shield and joining the state Group Insurance Commission last year, the city was required to place all its retirees into the same employee pool. The city was billed …
Monday, April 29, 2013
Peabody Republican Leah Cole will officially take office on Beacon Hill May 1, representing the 12th Essex District.
Peabody's new state representative will finally be sworn into office this week, just shy of a month after winning a closely contested three-way special election. Leah Cole tells Peabody Patch a ceremony is scheduled for Wednesday morning at the State House and she's ready to get to work. Cole, a 24-year-old Republican, narrowly defeated seasoned city politicians Beverley Griffin Dunne and David Gravel on April 2 in what was her first ever bid for public office. Cole is the 30th member of the GOP in the Mass. House of Representatives, which finally passed a $34 billion budget onto the Senate last week. She will, however, still get a chance to have a say on next year's state budget. Once the Senate agrees on a spending plan, the budget will …
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Should the state forge ahead with Gov. Deval Patrick's bold plan to invest now? Or should it follow the Legislature leadership's proposal to address the bottom line before embarking on bigger initiatives?
Massachusetts legislators this week answered Gov. Deval Patrick's ambitious plan to raise $1.9 billion for transportation and education with a $500 million plan of their own, which says the governor is asking for too much, too soon as the Bay State shakes off the effects of the Great Recession. Who's right? Should the state forge ahead in a bold plan to invest now? Or should it cautiously address the bottom line before embarking on bigger initiatives? While Patrick's plan includes funding for both the state transportation system and increased education funding from preschool through college, House and Senate lawmakers eschew new revenue for education, focusing solely on closing the transportation budget gap over the next five years. The …
Saturday, March 2, 2013
The governor's optimistic but state legislators don't sound so sure. What do you think?
Governor Deval Patrick is still bullish about his budget proposal, which will raise $1.9 billion in new revenue through an increase in the income tax, decrease in the sales tax, and various other changes to taxes, fees and deductions. But the men and women who have to pass the bill don't sound as eager to support a package many see as a politically-damaging measure. The Boston Herald quotes several Beacon Hill legislators who sounded notes of caution to outright opposition to the budget. Those quoted cited the 1990 election losses in the wake of an income tax increase, pressure on small businesses and the higher price of gas as reasons they were skeptical. And the governor's new web tools touting proposed transportation and education …
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Massachusetts is chock full of defense contractors, federal employees and federal program beneficiaries. Are you worried the U.S. budget sequester will hurt your family's finances?
The U.S. government has a week before its self-imposed sequestration deadline. If enacted, the across-the-board cuts to the federal budget could mean layoffs, decreased aid and lower government spending. That could mean trouble for some popular government programs, such as Social Security and Medicare. Defense contractors are also preparing for lost and reduced contracts with the government. Locally, it could also doom smaller programs that have a big impact. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program helps families in need pay for home heating oil and other energy costs. Massachusetts stands to lose over $11 million in assistance under this one program alone. Representatives Ed Markey and Jim McGovern are trying to shield the program…
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Gas prices have spiked on the North Shore in the past month. That got us wondering: Where is the cheapest gas on the North Shore, and how far out of your way would you drive to buy it?
If you've filled up recently on the North Shore, you probably noticed gas prices are spiking. AAA Southern New England said its survey of prices in Massachusetts on Tuesday found self-serve, regular unleaded averaging $3.77 per gallon in the Boston metro area. That's a nickel higher than a week ago and up 30 cents over the past month. That got us thinking: Where on the North Shore is the cheapest gas? Depending on where you live, how far would you drive to buy it? Using Mapquest data, we found the lowest price in North Shore Patch towns to be Concord Gas in Danvers, which charged $3.49 on Tuesday. Highest was Lynnfield, where you'd shell out $3.80 a gallon at the Mobil. Of course if you belong to clubs like Costco or BJs, you can sometimes…
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
The City Council approved a $140.6 million budget Tuesday night for Fiscal 2013 with little fanfare.
[Editor's Note: All budget documents can be found on the city's website.] With only city councilor Rico Mello lodging his now time-honored opposition, it was relatively smooth sailing for Mayor Ted Bettencourt Tuesday night in getting his first city budget passed. Councilors did air some concerns, asking pointed questions at times, but not on major spending issues. The council, meeting in a special session, approved the $140.6 million budget for Fiscal 2013 on a 9-1 vote. Councilor Michael Garabedian was absent. The council also voted line item-by-line item on the public safety portion of the budget to allow councilor Anne Manning-Martin to recuse herself on the salary portion for the Fire Department (her brother is a lieutenant). Manning-…
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
The proposed spending plan for Fiscal 2013 includes a $2.9 million increase and will be covered by a moderate tax increase and new growth, local receipts and reserves.
Wrapping up his first budget from the corner office, Mayor Ted Bettencourt has submitted a $140.6 million spending plan to the City Council for approval. The proposed budget for Fiscal 2013 is a 2.1 percent increase, with the additional spending largely coming in three key areas: education, public safety and human services. Bettencourt had otherwise directed all departments to level fund and his final proposal largely reflects that goal. Debt service also has a $424,000 uptick for capital projects already underway. "Over the past few months, I, along with a number of department heads and school officials, have worked together to compile what we consider to be a financially responsible budget plan for Fiscal 2013," Bettencourt said in his …
Friday, February 24, 2012
After years of overspending and borrowing from other lines, a light winter has provided the city with a rare snow and ice budget surplus.
- Dan Baer
Friday, February 24, 2012
Every week we set out to answer a question submitted by one of our readers as part of our You Ask...Patch Answers column. *** For the first time in a long time, New Englanders weren’t cursing Punxsutawney Phil earlier this month when the pesky, weather- predicting groundhog saw his shadow and forecasted six more weeks of winter. Unseasonably warm and unusually dry, the mild weather has been easy on both residents used to shoveling sidewalks and the city’s budget for snow and ice. With a record low amount of snowfall and little overnight freezing, the usually swollen snow and ice removal line is on pace to come in under budget for the first time in more than six years. Like most communities in the area, Peabody budgets the same amount for …