Lauretti begins work on new city budget

Mayor Mark Lauretti has received budget requests from department heads and now is working to finalize his proposed 2015-16 budget.

“The city side is not the issue — that’s basically steady,” Lauretti said.

Lauretti said he’ll need to take a hard look at the Board of Education (BOE) request of just under 5%. “They know they’re asking for more than they need,” he said. “That’s part of the game.”

The city’s current budget is $118.1 million, including about $68.6 million for the BOE. There was no tax increase last July, at the start of the current fiscal year.

The new fiscal year will begin July 1.

As for BOE funding requests, Lauretti said he is open to providing money outside the operating budget to help make technology improvements in the schools. BOE officials are hoping to upgrade servers and wi-fi systems.

Lauretti said these type of improvements do need to be made on an ongoing basis.

But he said the BOE is “never realistic” about its initial operating budget request, noting the cost of implementing full-day kindergarten was much less than school officials had indicated at the start of last year’s budget season. “They’re bad at math,” Lauretti said.

Sunnyside roof replacement

Lauretti also said the city is moving ahead with plans to replace the Sunnyside School roof, which has leaks. The BOE has listed this as a top priority in its capital needs request, outside the operating budget.

Lauretti said the city, including the Public Improvement Building Committee that oversees such infrastructure projects, considers replacing the Sunnyside roof to be a priority.

An architect has been hired for the roof replacement project, he said. “That will get done this summer,” Lauretti said.

Will release budget by March 22

By charter, the mayor has until March 22 to release his proposed budget. He traditionally does so during a presentation at a joint meeting of the Board of Aldermen and the Board of Apportionment and Taxation (A&T) in the City Hall auditorium.

The mayor’s proposal then goes to the Board of A&T for action, and finally to the Board of Aldermen. Approval of the final budget usually takes place in May, when the new tax rate also is set.