Posted: Tuesday, October 20, 2015 4:51 pm
By Ray Lamont Staff Writer
The lead questions at Tuesday morning’s Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce mayoral debate centered on Gloucester’s economy and development, but the city’s own finances became a focal point when interim Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken and City Council President Paul McGeary clashed in their second head-to-head match-up since emerging from last month ‘s preliminary election.
McGeary and Romeo Theken, addressing a gathering of about 60 for about 60 minutes during a chamber breakfast meeting at the Elks at Bass Rocks, sounded similar tones in response to the first question, which touched on prioritizing issues such as the redevelopment of the Fuller School property and the city’s waterfront I-4, C-2 site.
But that changed when they began to tackle the issue of the city’s budgeting, the subject of clashes throughout the campaign.
Citing her commitment to holding the line on spending after being appointed by the City Council as mayor last January — and an order that any expenditure of more than $1,000 needed clearance from her office — Romeo Theken touted the city’s newly confirmed $3.45 million in free cash(see related story) as a sign of her team’s effectiveness.
“We’re talking about capital budgets? We’re already working on a capital budget,” she said in response to a McGeary call for long-term fiscal planning. “Not only have I worked on budgets, we work on this budget each and every day.”
McGeary, however, questioned the actions behind the $3.45 million in free cash, freshly certificated by the state Department of Revenue.
“We as a council took Carolyn Kirk to task over free cash,” McGeary said, referring to the former mayor who took office in 2008 with a $3 million deficit but ended fiscal 2012 with a free cash certification of $4.8 million. McGeary has sat on the council’s Budget and Finance Committee for the past six years, and served on the council with Romeo Theken for five years prior to her mayoral appointment.
“When you turn up at the end of the year with ($3.45) million in free cash, you may have made cuts that weren’t necessary,” McGeary said.
“We had four positions cut from our schools,” he continued, referring to a personnel losses at Gloucester High and O’Maley Innovation Middle schools. “That might not have been necessary if it had been budget properly.”
Read full article on gloucestertimes.com