To save or not to save?

A move to force the city to save for hard times hit some of its own this week at a City Council budget committee meeting.

Chairman Brian Kirby wanted to kill the proposal – an effort by Councilor Sara Lynn Reynolds to “give some teeth” through an ordinance to the non-mandatory city policy to save for the future.

But Kirby argued that mandating deposits of a certain amount or a certain percentage every year could hamstring future councils if they’re dealing with cash shortfalls and tight budgets.

It could force them to cut employees or services to meet the mandate, he said.

“By making it an ordinance, we’d lock future councils in at a time when things might not be as good,” he said.

But other councilors said there are ways around the conflict.

“If we put exemptions or exceptions into the ordinance, the goal of the ordinance could be set aside for that fiscal year and not put us in a box,” Councilor Walter Thibodeau said.

Councilor Richard Conti said the matter should be looked at more closely before a decision is made, and Reynolds wants the city treasurer and auditor to give their opinions to the council.

Meanwhile, Councilor Shannon Heagney is satisfied with the way things are.

“The policy is working,” she said. “We’re healthier than other communities. I’d rather take money that’s left over and put it in the account, than require that it come off the top somewhere.”

Kirby’s motion to kill the proposal was voted out of committee and will get a vote of the full council on Tuesday.

If the council votes not to kill the plan, it will go back to committee for more discussion.


Sheila Oliver

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