After two weeks of negotiations and scrutiny, Mayor Joseph Curtatone's proposed FY11 budget was approved by the Board of Aldermen early this morning, with few direct challenges to his new plan to cut 17 school custodian positions.
The last minute changes to a proposal that would outsource school custodian services seemed to appease all but one alderman, who spent much of Tuesday's marathon budget session proposing her own series of budget cuts.
The $165,467,296 budget includes roughly $40,000 in cuts - less than one tenth of what Ward 6 Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz proposed throughout the seven hour series of meetings.
"[These are] $498,000 worth of cuts that I think would have made this budget fair; would have made it equitable," Gewirtz said before becoming the only alderman to vote against the final budget. "I agree with the concept of shared sacrifice. We're all in this together."
The new plan to outsource some school custodian positions and keep 28 civil service custodians and one supervisor - proposed by mayor Joseph Curtatone that evening - will save approximately $1,400,000.
Aldermen-at-Large Bill White, Dennis Sullivan and Ward 3 Alderman Tom Taylor joined Gewirtz in speaking against the custodian outsourcing plan, but said ultimately the budget should be supported.
"I don't like the fact that one particular group was taking most of the cut," Taylor said. "But the administration did step up to the plate and try to right the wrong."
While defending the new custodian plan, Curtatone alluded to Alderman-at-Large Dennis Sullivan's wife, Melissa Hurley, who signed on to be a communications consultant with the Somerville Municipal Employees Association as they waged a publicity campaign against layoffs of union employees.
Non-union city employees have agreed to a one-week pay cut to save three library positions, a point Curtatone said has been overlooked by those "vilifying" those not in unions.
"My employees don't have a public relations consultant," Curtatone said. "I'm the guy."
The fiscal year 2011 budget will take effect July 1.