Mayor presents budget request of $136M to Council

Mayor Donald F. Humason, Jr. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS FILE PHOTO)

WESTFIELD – In his fiscal year 2022 budget presentation to the City Council on May 27 Mayor Donald F. Humason, Jr. noted that this year is very different from a year ago, when he presented during the middle of the pandemic. He said state aid did not come in until December of 2020, and they were worried that it would be low.

“We were worried about a lot of things. Some of those worries materialized, and some did not,” Humason said.

He said the FY22 budget sees some modest growth over last year, but does not include any tax rate increase for the second year in a row. The total budget request for fiscal year 22 is $136,531,043, a $6 million increase over the 2020 budget of $130,371,398, according to City Auditor Vicki Moro.

Pointing out some highlights, Humason said he included $200,000 in a special fund for Other Post Employee Benefits (OPEB) compared to $20,000 last year, and also included $1.2 million for debt decline.

He said funding for a master plan which both he and the council consider a priority is not included in the budget, but will come in as a request from free cash.

Humason said he is asking for a request of $2 million from free cash for this budget. He said the city had approached the School Committee with a request to reduce their budget, which was voted down 4 to 3, and he said threw his budget numbers “out of whack” by $1 million. He and Moro went back to the city side to find more money, and decided to raise the free cash request  to $2 million. At the School Committee meeting on May 19, Humason had told them he planned to ask for $1.5 million from free cash for the budget.

“We expect this year to be a pretty good year financially, and there will be money that we’re not accounting for right now that will end up going back into free cash,” Humason said. He said as an example that the budget doesn’t contain any marijuana money, and the city does have strong receipts from one of the four retail establishments that is operating. He said those receipts will be going into free cash, and should make up for what they are taking out.

At large Councilor Richard K. Sullivan, Jr. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS FILE PHOTO)

Humason said believing that infrastructure is still important, they sought to increase funding for engineering in the budget, especially with American Rescue Plan funds coming. Previously, Humason said Westfield is anticipating $17 million in ARP funds over the next four years, which are restricted, but may be spent on infrastructure. He also said the city may receive funds from the Infrastructure Bond bill.

Humason also gave a “tip of the hat” to Mark Cressotti in engineering and Fran Cain in public works for the work they have been doing internally paving streets and working on city infrastructure. “That’s a good thing,” he said.

Finally, Humason said the budget does contain four new positions, one in information technology, a building inspector, one new position in human resources to free up the new personnel director for training, and another person in the public health department. He said there were no layoffs on the city side in 2021, but several positions remained unfilled.

Opening up the presentation to questions, At-large Councilor Richard K. Sullivan Jr. said he would save most of his questions for the budget review process in the Finance committee. He did ask why the city did not account for the marijuana receipts and take less out of free cash.

Moro said the Department of Revenue does not recommend budgeting marijuana money in the first two years of an establishment opening, and they followed that guidance.

At-large Councilor Dave Flaherty. (THE WESTFIELD NEWS FILE PHOTO)

At large Councilor Dave Flaherty said it looks like the city will have a healthy free cash number again next year. However, he said he was surprised by some of the Mayor’s choices, and called $6 million in new spending, “a big number.” He also said while the tax rate may not change, it’s only due to significantly higher property values that will increase taxes by almost $2 million.

Flaherty also expressed concern that the city is taking $2 million out of free cash for operating expenses, after taking $1.5 million out of free cash last year, also for operating expenses. “That pattern can’t continue. We can’t continue to spend more than we’re likely to raise,” he said.

The budget was referred to the finance committee, which has scheduled a series of virtual meetings with department heads prior to the vote on the full budget on June 24.

A public hearing on the budget has been scheduled for June 10 at 6 p.m. on zoom. Information on the public hearing may be found on the city website at

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