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Beverly grapples with budget cuts, layoffs

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  • Beverly grapples with budget cuts, layoffs

    Beverly grapples with budget cuts, layoffs


    Staff wri

    BEVERLY -- Firefighters and library workers converged on City Hall last night in a last-ditch effort to warn city councilors of the devastating effect further cuts would have on their departments.

    With the council scheduled to begin debating budget cuts, 30 firefighters and half a dozen library employees formed a picket line on the sidewalk. Firefighters carried signs bearing ominous slogans like "Life safety at risk," "Elected officials are playing Russian Roulette with fire apparatus," and "Firefighters and civilians at higher risk."

    Even if no more cuts are made to the fire department's budget, a ladder truck will have to be put out of service for six months out of the year. That would leave the city in a dangerous predicament, said Rich Cotraro, president of the firefighters' union. Without that truck, the city would have only 10 firefighters on at a time. If a mutual aid call came from a neighboring community, that would leave just six firefighters to cover a city of 40,000 people and 15 square miles.

    "This whole scheme is unacceptable," Cotraro said. "We at least want them to know this is what's happening in the city. This is what's going down. Basically, what we have to do is open up their eyes to the actual scenario. We're not even in the ballpark for coverage."

    The library workers' slogan was simple: "Save our library." They were spurred into action by one city councilor's suggestion the library budget might have to be cut by an additional one third, which would lead to layoffs and reduced hours. "We will no longer be here to help people," said Janice Shaw, the adult services librarian.

    Mayor Thomas Crean and the City Council appeared to be paying attention, as they spent most of the night grappling with ways to keep layoffs to a minimum and prevent the loss of essential services.

    Crean and Finance Director Tom Durkin kicked off the four-hour budget session by presenting a revised budget aimed at preserving 25 jobs that would otherwise have to be cut to bridge a $1.8 million gap that opened when the council rejected the mayor's proposed trash fee. Crean initially said it would take 33 layoffs to fill the hole, but his new proposal used a combination of unfilled positions, cuts, and money from the recreation, harbor management and other self-sustaining enterprise funds to reduce the number of layoffs to eight, four of them police officers.

    "This is our second-best attempt to deal with next year's fiscal difficulties, and we hope that you'll consider it," Durkin said.

    The council's three-member Finance and Property Committee then spent the better part of the night wading through the budget line-by-line on its own, hoping to come up with enough cuts to prevent any layoffs. The council was able to slash about $1.1 million from the budget by cutting items like office supplies, maintenance, training, and a $7,000 raise for Durkin. They also left numerous vacant positions unfilled.

    The cuts included a bottom line cut of $50,000 in the police department, $50,000 in fire and $87,500 for the library. Those numbers remain subject to change. The council is scheduled to take its final vote on next year's budget Thursday night. At that time, Police Chief John Cassola and Fire Chief Richard Pierce have been asked to present the impact the $50,000 cuts would have on their departments. Cassola said last night that he would likely have to lay off at least one police officer to make up for the cut.

    The remaining $700,000 needed to fill the budget gap would come from additional revenues Crean and Durkin are projecting. It would include additional money for building inspection fees for the proposed Boulder Hill development, and nearly $500,000 that would be taken from enterprise funds that in a normal year would be left alone.

    "These are not things we're particularly proud of," Durkin said. "We can use this as a bridge."

    But that $700,000 remains up in the air, as the city has yet to receive approval from the state Department of Revenue to adjust the revenues included in its original budget. The council has the power to cut money from the budget, but not to add revenue.

    "This is sort of uncharted waters," City Solicitor Peter Gilmore said. "It's not crystal clear to us at all." Gilmore said he hopes to have an answer as to the legality of the maneuver by today, but he doesn't foresee a problem.

  • #2
    Hey everyone-

    I just joined the forums but I thought I'd reply to this post because I live in Beverly.

    It is going to get ugly when they take their ladder out of service and leave the city with only 3 trucks (2 engines and a quint). Although Beverly doesn't get alot of calls compared to some departments, the city is fairly big, so sending all 3 trucks to a box from 3 differnt stations is going to put the rest of the city at risk were there to be another call (It also doesn't help that Salem, the city next to us, has a ladder and engine out of service due to budget problems!).

    A recent study was done to analyze the fire coverage in the city and it was found that another station and another truck were needed for adequate coverage, so instead of the current 4 trucks or the recommended 5, we will be down to 3.......but in this day in age I would guess that this is true throughout the country.

    At least the truck is only going to be out of service for 6 months instead of a year...
    "Man is the only creature that dares to light a fire and live with it.
    The reason? Because he alone has learned to put it out."
    - Henry Jackson Vandyke Jr. (1852-1933)


    • #3
      My poor Beverly brother. I have noticed your only staffed MA Ladder is our Eng. 2(Eng.1 dont leave town) it is way out by rt.1/62 so that would take forever to even get into Beverly. Lets hope we somehow find a soulution to this problem and you guys get back to work.


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