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FY21 Operating Budget

Learn about how the Operating Budget supports various services provided by the City.

The FY21 Operating Budget totals $3.61 billion and represents an increase of $119 million or 3.4% over FY20.

  • The operating budget is an approved annual spending plan allotted to both city departments and central budgets. The budget supports the cost of the day-to-day operations of city government, such as public education and public safety.
  • The budget also includes the yearly mandatory payments required to support long-term commitments for items like retirement pensions and debt service related to the capital plan.
  • The Operating Budget is funded primarily based on an estimate of annual recurring revenues.


  • The FY21 budget reflects an increase of $119 million or 3.4% over the FY20 budget.
  • Of this year's growth, 82% is dedicated to education, including Boston Public Schools (BPS)  and Charter School Tuition Assessment. 11% of the FY21 growth is dedicated to Public Health, while all other city services, such as Police, Fire, and Public Works, will see reductions that represent 17.7% in negative growth from FY20.
  • The collective bargaining reserve will see 2.2% in negative growth from FY20. The remaining 27% of the growth will be consumed by pension, debt service and other fixed cost expenditures.

Operating Budget Total Spending

The FY18-FY19 amounts are actual expenditures and the FY20-FY21 amounts are budgets.


Operating Budget spending can be broken down into six main categories:

  • Personnel Service costs cover items such as employee salaries, overtime  and benefits.
  • Contractual Services represents services procured to support departmental operations such as telecommunications, utilities and other operational services.
  • Supplies and Materials covers costs such as gasoline for vehicles, office supplies, and other general supplies to support departmental operations.
  • Current Charges include required expenses for things like health insurance, bonds and health liability expenses.
  • Equipment costs include purchases like computers and financing costs for vehicles and information technology and telecommunication equipment.
  • Other costs include large items like employee pensions and capital bond debt service and charges assessed by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Overall Spending


The chart to the left shows expenditures by area over three years.

The FY18-FY19 amounts are actual expenditures and the FY20-FY21 amounts are budgets.

Explore Spending

Select a department to see how its budget has changed over time.

Departmental Spending

The FY18-FY19 amounts are actual expenditures and the FY20-FY21 amounts are budgets.

Revenue Overview

FY 2002

FY 2021

The City's recurring revenue comes from: Property TaxState Aid, and Local Revenue (including Department Revenue and Excise Taxes).

The property tax levy has always been the City’s largest and most dependable source of recurring revenue.

In recent years, property taxes have become a significantly larger portion of the total revenue due to decreases in state aid.

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