Mayor Walsh proposes fiscally responsible operating budget and capital plan
The proposed investments take into account the short and long-term fiscal impact of the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and are made possible due to six consecutive years of proactive fiscal management that has well-positioned the City of Boston to continue investing in core city services and resident needs at a time of global economic uncertainty.
The budget proposal doubles down on Mayor Walsh's commitment to continue serving the people of Boston, no matter what challenges we face as a City. As laid out in his State of the City address earlier this year, the City of Boston is on track to make historic investments in education and housing over the course of the next year, both priority areas of the Walsh Administration.
"Through these unprecedented times, the work we do everyday in serving our residents has never been more important," said Mayor Walsh. "In the proposed budget and capital plan, we are putting forth smart and strategic investments in the areas that we know will have the most impact for our residents. I want the people of Boston to know that during this time of such uncertainty, they can count on their city government to help get through this difficult time. I believe that with responsible fiscal planning, with investments in the equity, health and wellbeing of our residents, and with our spirit of courage and collaboration, we will emerge together from this crisis stronger and more resilient than before."
"Every year, the City is responsible for planning a balanced budget," said Emme Handy, Chief of Administration and Finance. "The rapidly changing economic reality brought on by the coronavirus pandemic presents new challenges in striking that balance. Rising to that challenge, the Mayor's FY21 budget makes necessary revenue revisions recognizing our new reality, while continuing to fund the Mayor's commitments to Boston today and into the future."
"In times of crisis, the programs and services provided by the City to its residents are more vital than ever," said Justin Sterritt, Budget Director. "The FY21 Budget acknowledges the new fiscal landscape the City faces but ensures those important City programs have the resources they need."
While the City has a growing tax revenue base, the City also continues to find efficiencies and prioritizes investing in innovative solutions to provide world-class City services. The FY21 budget includes over $13 million in identified savings from areas such as health insurance, energy efficiencies and other operational savings. In addition, for the sixth consecutive year, the City of Boston has received a AAA bond rating, reflecting the city's strong fiscal management and stable financial position. The City of Boston recently was named by Moody's as one of the best prepared cities to handle a national recession.
The recommended FY21 operating budget proposes an increase of $154 million (or 4.4 percent) over FY20, and makes strategic investments in improving city services and the quality of life for residents of Boston. The proposed FY21-FY25 Capital Plan will reach $3 billion for the first time in its history and will make strategic and meaningful investments in projects throughout the City.High Quality Education for All Students
There is no better reflection of Mayor Walsh's commitment to equal opportunity than the City's continued strong investment in public education. In his State of the City address, Mayor Walsh announced a historic three-year $100 million funding commitment to Boston Public Schools (BPS), in new additional funding that is over and above standard cost increases. The proposed FY21 budget fulfills the first year of that commitment, through an overall $80 million increase, including an initial down payment of $36 million in new additional funding. Combined with a $17 million increase for our charter school students, Boston's total public education increase for next year reaches $97 million and represents 63 percent of all new City funding, the highlights of which include:
BPS Operating Budget
- Overall budget of $1.26 billion, an $80 million or 7% increase
- $15 million towards raising the bar on student learning with new high-quality materials, resources and improved environments
- $12 million to increase teachers' skills through coaching, feedback and developing high-quality curriculum
- $9 million to provide students and families a strong foundation for success with more support to connect them to wraparound services, resources and information
BPS Capital Plan
- $137.4 million for Boston Arts Academy in Fenway, which is currently under construction. This number reflects a $12 million increase over the previous year's capital plan
- $78 million in multi-school maintenance projects, including new funding for drinking water upgrades, bathroom renovations, entryway improvements, upgraded fire systems, general maintenance including painting, electrical, schoolyard improvements, and adding an additional 29 My Way Cafes in schools, adding to the 58 schools already outfitted with the cafes
- $3 million for K-6 conversions and a grade 7-12 master plan study.
- Growing the BuildBPS budget for future projects by $77 million, for a total of $230 million set aside for major BuildBPS projects
This year's budget proposal reflects progress made towards implementing Mayor Walsh's announcement in his State of the City address that over the course of the next five years, the City will invest $500 million in accessible and affordable housing for Bostonians through a combination of city funds, new dedicated funding from the sale of the Lafayette Garage and anticipated state passage of the real estate transfer tax. The budget proposal makes a $16 million investment in new City operating and capital resources for housing, the highlights of which include:
- $2.4 million to create affordable homeownership opportunities, including $1.4 million to double existing resources for down-payment assistance for first-time homebuyers and $1 million to provide more homebuyers with a discounted interest rate on the ONE Plus Boston mortgage program
- $3.2 million to preserve and generate affordable rental opportunities, including $2.5 million to create Boston's first City-funded housing vouchers to subsidize the rents of those with the most need, $350,000 in new resources for preserving expiring-use, income-restricted units, $250,000 to help families preserve their tenancy or secure new housing, and $135,000 to connect more people to resources and legal assistance through expanding the Housing Court Navigator program
- $1.8 million for rapid rehousing for youth and young adults, and funding to address chronic and family homelessness by expanding front door triage, street homeless outreach, and an advisor on family homelessness
- $150,000 to support affordable housing development through assistance for small, local, minority- and women owned developers
- $5 million to renovate and upgrade affordable housing units for older residents and individuals with disabilities in Boston's public housing developments
- $5 million to launch a public infrastructure housing fund to support developments and expand the number of affordable units in the city
Mayor Walsh recognizes that a growing city needs to have robust, effective and accountable public safety services and a force reflective of the communities in which it serves, and through this year's budget proposals, he is proposing the following investments:
- $9 million in new funding to expand capabilities and services provided by Public Health Commission (BPHC), including an additional $354,000 in funding for violence prevention capacity building, $1.5 million for essential equipment replacements for Emergency Medical Services (EMS) including 340 radios, $216,000 for enhanced Health of Boston population-level data, and $250,000 to study the implementation of a 40-bed respite housing shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness and substance use disorder. This new funding brings BPHC's total operating budget to over $100 million
- $1.7 million for industrial cleaning and facility repairs for the Boston Fire Department
- Growing the Boston Police force by 25 officers in 2021 by adding a second recruit class
- $1 million for an enhanced citywide campaign that aligns all existing resources to reach underserved populations with opportunity oriented programming, as part of the city's violence prevention efforts
- An additional $15 million for the BCYF Curley Community Center in South Boston, bringing the total investment to $30 million
- An additional $4.6 million for the East Boston Senior Center, bringing the total investment to $5.6 million
- $2.5 million for the Marshall Pool in Dorchester and new investments in the Paris Street Pool in East Boston
Mayor Walsh has been at the forefront of recognizing and addressing the risks of climate change, and protecting our environment. During Mayor Walsh's time in office, Boston has retained its title as the most "efficient city in the United States," as named by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. As part of his leadership, Mayor Walsh has committed for 10 percent of all new capital spending to be dedicated for resilience projects. The highlights of the City's environment proposals include:
- $330,000 in new support to maintain the City's Urban Wilds and Tree Canopy
- $630,000 to expand the Zero Waste program including a robust composting pilot program, more Project Oscar compost locations, and other education and Zero Waste supports
- $1 million increase in funding to plant and maintain trees across the city, significantly increasing the amount of trees planted annually
- $3 million Climate Resilience Reserve fund supporting opportunities to enhance the climate resilience of existing capital projects
- $36 million in authorization for new and ongoing open space projects, including at the Back Bay Fens pathways, McConnell Playground in Dorchester, Malcolm X Park in Roxbury, Garvey Playground in Dorchester, Jeep Jones Park in Roxbury and Millennium Park pathways in West Roxbury
The citywide resilience strategy aims to ensure every resident can reach their full potential regardless of their background, and to remove the barriers that hinder Bostonians from having access to opportunities. To that end, the City is proposing investments in areas of equity and prosperity, including:
- $200,000 to increase financial security for older Bostonians
- $100,000 to expand and support the Boston Saves banking program for students
- $136,000 to expand equitable City procurement and supplier diversity
- $97,500 to expand the childcare entrepreneur fund
Our economic strength is dependent on our ability to move people around our city to businesses, jobs and homes. Building on Boston's long-term transportation plan, Go Boston 2030, the FY21 budget proposal makes targeted investments in public space and improved mobility, including:
- Increasing mobility options by investing $14.4 million to add 7 new dedicated bus lanes and $1 million to install 11 new BlueBikes stations, and adding 440 new bikes to the fleet
- Addressing safe streets through an $8.9 million investment to finish building 15 neighborhood slow streets
- $11 million for transportation infrastructure improvements, including pedestrian ramps, crosswalk and lane markings, and street lighting
- $54 million in additional funding for the Northern Avenue bridge project for a $100 million total to build a transformative multi-modal bridge that prioritizes pedestrians and shared public space on the waterfront
Mayor Walsh's budget proposal continues to invest in preserving and creating a strong middle class, and creating opportunities for all those who live in Boston, and supports Boston's long-term plan, Imagine Boston 2030.
Imagine Boston 2030 is Boston's first citywide plan in 50 years aimed at guiding growth to support our dynamic economy and expand opportunity for all residents. The plan prioritizes inclusionary growth and puts forth a comprehensive vision to boost quality of life, equity and resilience in every neighborhood across the City. Shaped by the input of 15,000 residents who contributed their thoughts to the plan, Imagine Boston 2030 identifies five action areas to guide Boston's growth, enhancement and preservation, and is paired with a set of metrics that will evaluate progress and successes. To learn more visit, imagine.boston.gov.
For more information on the budget proposal, please visit budget.boston.gov.