6 Things You Need to Know About the City Budget
Mayor Christenson met with reporters Wednesday to discuss his proposed 2013 budget.
Mayor Gary Christenson and members of his staff met with reporters Wednesday afternoon to field questions about his proposed fiscal year 2013 budget, made available on the city's website that morning.
Don't have time to wade through all of the numbers? Here's some highlights you need to know about the plan, which is still pending city council approval:
1. It's net-friendly: Whereas previous budgets were released as raw pdf files, the Christenson Administration conceptualized and produced a searchable, online version of the budget that breaks down all revenue, expenses and even staff salaries in a user-friendly format.
“We really want to give (the press) and the city a true perspective of what is going on in the budget,” Christenson said.
2. A proposed recreation department: A proposed staff recalibration would allow the city to create a recreation department at “minimal” cost of about $6,000, Christenson said. The move would transform the existing facilities coordinator position in the public facilities department to fill the role.
“We talked about this on the campaign trail: that the future is what amenities will Malden offer that will cause residents to stay or come here,” Christenson said. “If you look at the towns around us, most have an active recreation program.”
Christenson said he envisioned the position organizing some adult leagues, in addition to working with the proposed teen center director and other existing youth organizations and programs.
3. Restaurant support: $19,964 from the city's meal tax will be allocating to promoting a “Dine-In” program that highlights restaurant's throughout the city.
“Back when we debated the meals tax proposal, this was something suggested by the business community,” Christenson said.
Advertisements will focus on MBTA stations near Malden Center, with content coordinated by the Malden Restaurant Association, the Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor's office.
4. No more online service fees: The budget also eliminates the nominal fee charged when residents pay their bills over the city's website.
While the move would cost the city about $10,000 in revenue, Christenson said it was an issue important to constituents.
“It's a gesture to those residents who were really pushing to do more business online; to make it easier to do so,” he said.
“This is unique – a lot of other cities charge,” he added. “But we heard enough from the residents...and we're working hard to distinguish our city from other cities and towns.”
5. More Teen Jobs: The mayor also proposed raising funding for teen summer jobs with the city by $50,000, a move that would put 120 more kids into part-time summer jobs with the city.
Students can do odd jobs for the city, work in area non-profits and other programs.
6. No raised taxes or reserve funds: The budget will not employ any emergency reserves or raise taxes. It also recommends saving 5% of the city's annual revenue for the fund.
Water/Sewer fee increases: Christenson also revealed his proposed budget for the city's water and sewer enterprise fund, which would see rates increase by approximately 19 percent.
“The primary reason for the proposed increase is due to the increased assessment of 12 percent from the Massachusetts Waters Resources Authority (MWRA),” he wrote in the executive summary.