NEWBURYPORT — As communities statewide await details on the reopening plan from Gov. Charlie Baker next week, municipal leaders budgeting for the coming fiscal year have been given a hefty task: funding an unpredictable future.
What the coming months and year will look like amid the ongoing COVID-19 public health crisis is uncertain, and still being determined at the state and federal level.
Tasked with submitting a budget for fiscal year 2021, which begins July 1, Mayor Donna Holaday, like some municipal leaders in the state, is instead requesting a short-term budget from the City Council. The $24.7 million continuing appropriation request would allow the City of Newburyport to continue to operate for the next three months while the realities of living with COVID-19 are solidified in Massachusetts and the rest of the country.
To read the request, visit https://www.cityofnewburyport.com/budget.
“Avoiding layoffs and continuing to meet all contractual obligations of the city is my utmost priority,” Mayor Holaday said. “Adopting a three month budget will give us the ability to track the state budget process and better understand the impacts on city revenue. I am confident that taking the additional time to develop a balanced fiscal 2021 budget will yield the best long-term results for the residents and taxpayers of Newburyport.”
The City Council must approve the continuing appropriation request by June 30 for it to take effect, and will discuss the request at their June 8 meeting. All City Council meetings are currently being held remotely using Zoom due to COVID-19, and login information for the public will be posted when available on the public meeting calendar on the City website here. The City Council may also discuss the budget at its June 29 meeting.
According to a March report by the Center for State Policy Analysis at Tufts University, the state of Massachusetts may lose between $1.8 and $3 million in tax revenue over a 15 month time period that began in March due to COVID-19. This loss may also be exacerbated by emergency state spending due to the virus, the report indicates.
State aid comprises approximately 6.5% of the City of Newburyport’s annual revenue, including the schools.
Preliminary revenue estimates suggest the City of Newburyport could see an 8% decrease in local receipts and a 12% decrease in state aid due to COVID-19.
If approved, Mayor Holaday’s continuing appropriation request would allow the City to develop a budget for the remainder of the year that will be tailored to the needs of the community moving forward as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the anticipated loss of revenue statewide.
The City of Newburyport will continue to provide residents with frequent updates about the COVID-19 crisis as more information becomes available.