East Providence’s proposed budget for next fiscal year took some heat Tuesday night, Oct. 2, from the mayor.
It wasn’t heat generated by the size of the $134.5 million General Fund, though. It was heat generated by the form of the budget.
“I’m unable in this current budget format to determine the revenues versus the expenditures,” said East Provide Mayor Bruce Rogers.
Rogers used the Municipal Court line item as an example. The budget only shows the expenditures, not the revenue, he said.
Does the court generate revenue for East Providence? Should the city just send moving violations to the RI Traffic Tribunal? The city can’t just eliminate the court, Rogers said, but the budget format doesn’t give the City Council or taxpayers the context needed to make certain decisions.
City Manager Peter Graczykowski said the budget format doesn’t show revenues because “all of the money goes to the General Fund.”
And the city departments have not been set up to show a revenue versus cost picture, the city manager said.
Rogers wasn’t satisfied.
“We need to find a way to present the budget so that we, the City Council, and the taxpayers can understand it,” Rogers said.
Graczykowski said he will work with the finance director to come back to the City Council with a more user-friendly format. In the meantime, he said, the first hearing on the budget by the East Providence Budget Commission will be held this Thursday, Oct. 4, at 3 pm.
Both Graczykowski and Rogers serve on the Budget Commission along with three appointees by the RI Department of Revenue.
A second hearing on the budget is scheduled for Oct. 18 at 5 pm. That date is two days after the next City Council meeting.
Priorities and any proposed changes will have to be determined at that meeting, Graczykowski said, so the Budget Commission has the City Council’s version before the second hearing.
The proposed General Fund budget is about $300,000 less than the 2011-12 fiscal year budget. When the two enterprise funds for water and wastewater are added in, the All Funds Budget of $153.9 million also is about $300,000 less than the current year.