BOSTON – Wednesday, April 5, 2017 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh today presented his Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) budget proposal, a plan that balances sustainability and increases investments in key initiatives and more fully supports Boston’s neighborhoods. The proposed budget builds on the Walsh Administration’s strong fiscal management record, maintains high levels of support for educating Boston’s students and keeping the City of Boston safe, expands upon strategic initiatives to achieve cost savings, and positions the City to manage through instability at the national level.
Through thoughtful reform that achieves cost savings, and improved utilization of existing funds, Mayor Walsh’s FY18 budget is able to make targeted investments towards achieving a thriving, healthy and innovative City. The recommended operating budget totals $3.14 billion, and represents an increase of $143.7 million or 4.8% over FY17.
“I am proud to put forth a budget that makes strategic investments to support Boston’s neighborhoods, and builds on our strong record of fiscal management,” said Mayor Walsh. “This proposal represents a smart, responsible, and sustainable fiscal strategy that is forward-looking and will achieve maximum impact by investing in our people. Together, we will continue to put the City of Boston in the very best possible position to thrive this coming year, and in the years ahead.”
“Because of careful stewardship of taxpayer resources that has earned us four straight years of perfect bond ratings, this budget is able to propose targeted investments in key areas to improve quality of life and deliver world-class services to the people of Boston,” said David Sweeney, Chief Financial Officer for the City of Boston. “I am proud that the City’s strong management and unprecedented growth is paving the way for smart investments that will contribute to our city’s prosperity.”
“This budget builds on Mayor Walsh’s successes across the City, including investing in research-driven reforms – like extending the school day – to closing achievement gaps, moving homeless individuals into permanent housing, building a pipeline for a diverse police force, and focusing on basic city services to make our streets cleaner and safer,” said Katie Hammer, Budget Director for the City of Boston. “These data-driven investments are made possible due to our smart savings and revenue maximization initiatives across City government.”
Strong Fiscal Management
Mayor Walsh today presented a balanced budget that maintains a high level of support in critical areas because of the Administration’s achievement of efficiencies and savings. The City’s data-driven managerial approach was recently validated by the affirmation of Boston’s AAA bond rating for the 4th year in a row. In February, Moody’s Investor Services said that “Boston’s AAA reflects the city’s strong fiscal management and stable financial position as well as the large and growing tax base,” while S&P Global Ratings said that they viewed “Boston’s management environment as very strong.”
In order to invest in the areas that will keep Boston thriving, the City has implemented a number of cost saving reforms in FY18 that will save the City a total of approximately $60 million, including:
Departments will continue overtime reforms, saving almost $13 million in FY18;
Long-term vacant positions will be eliminated;
Health care cost containment reforms from the 2015 PEC agreement will achieve $10 million in annual savings in FY18;
The City will save $5.8 million in energy costs due to 18,551 streetlight LED retrofits.
It is only because of consistent diligence in pursuing these reform efforts that the City is able to continue to expand investments in FY18.
The Boston School Committee approved a $1.061 billion budget for the Boston Public Schools (BPS) , which is projected to increase to $1.081 billion once collectively bargained cost increases are added, the largest appropriation in BPS history. That represents a projected $40 million increase since last year, and a $143 million increase since Mayor Walsh took office. Funding directed to schools (including district and charter schools), will increase by almost 4 percent, a $25 million increase over FY17, even before employee collective bargaining increases are negotiated. In total, with this budget, staff levels at BPS will have increased by approximately 250 since Mayor Walsh took office in 2014.
This budget includes a groundbreaking $14 million in additional investment to give 15,000 more students, from K-8, 120 hours of additional learning time, or the equivalent of 20 more school days per year. In addition, the budget supports numerous research-driven education investments and reforms, including expanding Excellence for All, adding pre-kindergarten (K1) seats, and providing supports to 3,000 students that have been identified as experiencing homelessness, in an effort to close achievement and opportunity gaps.
Implementing Boston’s Homeless Action Plan
To support the Mayor’s Action Plan to end chronic and veteran homelessness, Boston’s Way Home, the FY18 budget includes an increase of $150,000 in general funds to provide support services for veterans not eligible for veteran’s affairs programs, and an investment of $50,000 in federal funds to modify the City’s Homebuyer Financial Assistance Program to provide down payment assistance to veterans.
Improving Homeless Shelter Service and Safety
As a response to federal funding cuts, the City will provide additional resources to BPHC to ensure that the city’s homeless shelters continue to operate 24/7. Moreover, in recognition of the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “Housing First” approach to ending chronic homelessness, the FY18 budget will support rapid rehousing programs that focus on helping households obtain permanent housing as quickly as possible.
Delivering Exceptional Basic City Services and Safer Streets
Mayor Walsh’s Administration will continue ensuring that city streets are clean, with a full-time hokey (street cleaner) in every Public Works District, to help patrol neighborhoods, empty our litter baskets, and pick up trash. In addition, to improve safety and expand access to our streets, Boston is launching a citywide, multi-year campaign to bring all crosswalks, lane markings and bike lanes into a good state of repair.
Health and Safety
Improving Addiction Services & utilizing data-driven solutions to maximize impact
This budget builds on the success of the PAATHS (Providing Access to Addictions Treatment, Hope and Support) program by enabling it to expand services to evenings and weekends.
Mayor Walsh will launch a data-driven initiative to change the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) are deployed to improve patient outcomes and ambulance utilization. EMTs will be deployed on rotating schedules in non-transport vehicles to triage call types in Downtown Boston and Recovery Road area.
The FY18 budget will include $50,000 for a pilot program to provide industrial level cleaning for firehouses to improve health outcomes for firefighters.
Consistent with previous investments in making Boston’s open spaces among the nation’s most equitable and accessible, this budget invests in a rotation of small renovations to neighborhood ball fields to keep them safe and playable.
Expanding Access for All
This budget allows for library services to be restored to Chinatown after 54 years, providing easy access to a community gathering space, a play for teens and children to study and learn, and a location to access critical 21st century services, including internet and computers. In addition, the FY18 budget proposal offers support for local artists through grantmaking and residencies.