Finance board scheduled to vote on city budget Tuesday

The Board of Finance may consider adding a building inspector position to the budget when it votes Tuesday on the city and school spending plans for 2014-15.

A number of building projects, including about $60 million in construction work aimed at rebuilding from Hurricane Sandy, will keep the building department busy in coming years, officials said. There is also a large-scale building proposal for 275 rental units on Bic Drive, Mayor Ben Blake pointed out during budget discussions last Thursday night. There is no way of saying how many of those units will be approved, but Blake expects the project to add to the workload in the building office.

The city currently has three building inspectors listed in its budget books. They earn between $65,000 and $67,000 a year.

Blake suggested that if the board members add another inspector, they find money elsewhere in the budget to offset the increase.

The mayor’s budget plan, while it comes with a spending increase, comes with no new positions.

The combined city and school spending package for 2014-15 is $199.3 million, which is $5.26 million more than the current spending plan. That represents a 2.71% increase, much of which Mayor Ben Blake said is “unavoidable.” Increases in pension contributions, debt payments and health care costs, plus wage increases, account for $5 million of the increased costs.

The Board of Finance met last week for a technical discussion of the city and school spending proposals. They spent a few minutes talking about the need for help in the building department.

The city’s director of permitting and land use, Joseph Griffith, had mentioned the need for an additional inspector when he went before the board.

“Maybe we can give it some thought,” said Finance Board Chairman Brian Lema during the technical discussion.

Board members had several questions about the school board’s budget proposal, which Chief Operations Officer James Richetelli Jr. was on hand to answer. Several members said they thought the school board did a good job coming in with a responsible proposal.

The Board of Education put through a budget proposal that represents less than a 1% increase over its current budget.

The finance board is expected to vote on the combined city and school budget Tuesday, March 4. As initially presented, the plan would increase taxes on a home with a fair market value of $250,000 by $263.

The vote is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in Conference Room B of the Parsons Complex.

Next, the budget will go to the Board of Aldermen. The aldermen will review it before making a final vote and adopting a new mill rate in May.