For Immediate Release
April 08, 2009
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Budget aims to maximize resources and minimize impact to services
Citing the Fiscal Year 2010 budget as the toughest he has built, Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced today that the City's recommended budget protects core city services as much as possible while closing a projected $140 million deficit. The $2.4 billion recommended budget, submitted to the Boston City Council today, focuses on the Mayor's priorities of investing in youth, strengthening our neighborhoods and growing our economy.
"To preserve our gains and make new strides we had to make tough decisions," said Mayor Menino. "We had to cut in some areas so we can continue to invest in our priorities – the frontline services that you value most. We will not only be able to provide these services in the present but also continue to build a strong foundation for the future."
Earlier this year, City officials projected a budget deficit of approximately $140 million. The deficit formed from a sharp decline in nearly all projected revenue categories including a $62.2 million decrease in State Aid and an equally sharp increase in expenses including $55 million for scheduled wage and STEP increases for city employees.
The $140 million gap would have resulted in as many as 1,000 layoffs but City officials were able to close the gap through five principal means:
- Early Action: In October of 2008, the City of Boston ground hiring to a virtual halt for the remainder of FY 09 and canceled three public safety recruit classes – two fire and one police – saving nearly $18 million.
- Reform and Cost Cutting: The City renegotiated a number of its largest contracts – including health insurance, street sweeping and recycling – and improved energy efficiency by changing vehicle and transportation policies, collectively saving $18 million.
- American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Investment: The City allocated $20 million in federal funds appropriated through the ARRA, saving 250 positions. This funding includes $16 million for the Boston Public Schools through Title 1 and IDEA and nearly $4 million for the Boston Police Department through the Byrne Grant.
- Prudent Use of Reserves: The City appropriated nearly one-third or $40 million of its certified $121 million in spendable reserves to help close the budget gap. Given the highly-unstable global economy, the remaining two-thirds will be reserved for future budgets.
- Wage Freeze: 22 unions agreed to a one-year wage delay. When combined with the one-year wage delay for non-unionized employees and the wage cuts for the City's senior staff, this action saved the City over $8.7 million and preserved 196 jobs.
While these efforts decreased the deficit and saved 446 jobs, the FY 10 budget still projects 565 layoffs.
"These aren't numbers, they are people with families who perform critical work," said Mayor Menino. "That's why I'm doing everything I can – from pursuing more reforms to maximizing Recovery grant dollars, to fighting for the ability to diversify our revenues – to save these jobs. But the most direct and immediate way to save these jobs is for the remaining unions to agree to the wage freezes. Today, I call on these union leaders to join your colleagues in this spirit of collaboration."
The City's recommended FY 10 budget totals $2.425 billion, a $5.0 million increase from FY 09. While Boston Public Schools will see a budget decrease of 1.9%, police a 2.4% decrease and fire a 4.7% decrease, other departments have received larger cuts upwards of 7%.
Because Boston Public Schools and public safety agencies comprise 52% - more than half – of the total city budget, those departments will unfortunately have impacts. Within the Boston Public Schools there are 364 layoffs projected including 212 teachers that could be saved if the Boston Teachers Union (BTU) agreed to a one-year wage freeze.
The Boston Police Department faces an estimated 123 layoffs including 67 sworn officers. Those officer positions will be funded until October 1 while the City aggressively competes for additional federal funding that will allow the department to retain some or all of these dedicated individuals.
Still, there is good news as the recommended budget for FY 10 invests $817 million into the Boston Public Schools and continues the City's long term commitment to accelerate academic achievement. At the same time the recommended budget makes strong investments in environmental initiatives, community development and public safety, by:
- Investing in education: The City will preserve hours at libraries and community centers while adding or expanding six K-8 schools, five pilot schools, and three community learning sites.
- Ensuring public safety: To preserve the number of officers on the street, the Police Department is decentralizing various specialized units, expanding Safe Street teams and redeploying bike units.
- Moving forward: With construction slowed across the country, the City is moving forward on a $1.5 billion five year capital plan including a $31 million project to build a new police station and free up space for commercial growth in the heart of Dudley Square.
- Protecting homeowners: The recommended budget provides for safety nets such as credit recovery programs and improved offerings for English Language Learners and the City is expanding its award-winning foreclosure prevention efforts through the Leading the Way III housing agenda.
- Being efficient: From a major energy retrofit of Boston City Hall and the Boston Public Library's main branch to more targeted efficiency improvements at community centers and schools, the budget supports a major reduction of the City's overall carbon footprint. Additionally, the City will plant 400 new street trees and invest $9 million in park improvements throughout FY 10.