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Mayor Walsh's budget proposal builds on strong record of proactive fiscal management

April 13, 2016

Mayor's Office

Published by:

Mayor's Office

The balanced budget supports education, public safety and economic growth.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh today presented his Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) budget proposal, a balanced and responsible plan that is responsive to the needs to Boston's residents.  The budget builds on the Administration's strong and proactive fiscal management practices, implements department audit recommendations to achieve operational efficiencies and modernize processes, employs data-driven decision making, and continues to address long-term systemic challenges affecting the residents of Boston that have built up over many years.  Through thoughtful reforms that achieve savings, and improved utilization of existing funds, Mayor Walsh's FY17 budget is able to make targeted investments toward achieving a thriving, healthy and innovative City.

"I am proud that this budget reflects our shared commitment to strong fiscal management-in the savings we have achieved, and in the new investments those savings make possible," said Mayor Walsh. " This is a forward-looking budget that puts us on the cutting edge of both policy vision and operational excellence. Together, by strong collaboration and bold reform, we can fight inequality and ensure that our city's prosperity is shared widely."  

Members of the public can learn more about Mayor Walsh's recommended budget at boston.gov/recommendedbudget.

Strong Fiscal Management 

Mayor Walsh is able to present a balanced budget that maintains high levels 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 triple A bond rating. In its first two years, the Administration has systematically engaged in independent operational reviews and other planning efforts aimed at making government more efficient in order to address areas needing renewed attention.

In order to invest in the areas that will keep Boston thriving,  the City has implemented a number of cost saving reforms in FY17:

  • Public Safety and Streets departments will cut employee overtime hours in FY17, saving the City $11.6 million.
  • City departments are saving about $4.7 million by inactivating over 100 vacant positions without impacting service levels.
  • The City is achieving nearly $1 million in utility savings from reduced usage and lower rates, and almost $400,000 in savings by tightening waste and other contracted services budgets.
  • The Public Health Commission is saving $1.4 million through a number of budget tightening measures.
  • As part of its reform to cut public safety overtime and give public safety departments meaningful spending limits, this budget fully plans for public safety overtime for the first time in over 15 years.

Through operational reviews, data-driven initiatives, and other planning efforts, the Walsh Administration has identified need for investment in key areas ranging from access to quality early childhood education, to addressing chronic and veteran homelessness, to reducing Emergency Medical Services (EMS) response time.

Education 

The School Committee approved a $1.027 billion budget for the Boston Public Schools (BPS),  an appropriation amount that could go up when the next round of collective bargaining agreements are negotiated. Total education spending (including district and charter schools) will be 40% of the city budget. According to a report by the US Census Bureau, the Boston Public Schools invest more money per student than any of the 100 largest school districts in the nation.  

Increasing Access to Quality Early Childhood Education 
This budget includes $3 million to expand BPS K1 programming by 200 seats, building on the 200 new K1 seats added in BPS schools over the last two years.

Investing Thoughtfully in Special Education 
BPS will invest in special education in three critical areas: support teams to work directly in schools with teachers and school staff, a new data system that will give parents timely and accurate access to IEP information, and transition services for students as they prepare to move on from BPS.  

Housing 

Implementing Boston's Homeless Action Plan 
To support the Mayor's Action Plan committed to ending chronic individual homelessness by 2018, the FY17 budget includes an increase of $1.3 million in general funds and $2 million in federal funds to provide front door triage staff at Pine Street Inn, rapid re-housing rental assistance, additional emergency shelter to families, and low barrier permanent supportive housing for the homeless.

Improving Homeless Shelter Service and Safety 
The budget improves services and safety at Southampton Street and Woods Mullen homeless shelters by   better assisting Boston's most vulnerable population with career counseling, job training, substance abuse prevention, and transitional and permanent housing support services. It will also allow for the full implementation of a front door triage department that enables shelter staff to meet with every new guest entering the shelters to conduct an in-depth assessment, and to develop a client-centered plan to exit the emergency shelter system as quickly as possible. 

Basic City Services and Safer Streets 

Delivering Exceptional Basic City Services 
This budget increases Boston's street resurfacing and sidewalk repair program by nearly $4 million and bridge repair by over $6 million.

Helping People Move Through the City Safely and Reliably 
In FY17, City is investing $3.1 million in Vision Zero - a campaign Mayor Walsh launched in 2015 to eliminate serious injuries and fatalities in our roadways.

Parks First 

With operating and capital investments, Mayor Walsh is launching Parks First, a comprehensive initiative ensuring that Boston's open spaces are among the Nation's most accessible and equitable. Mayor Walsh has dedicated $47.6 million in capital funds to Boston's parks, and the FY17 operating budget will be the largest in the department's history. 

Improving Access and Equity 
A two-year, $5 million dollar investment in pathway and entrance improvements to Boston's largest open space, Franklin Park, will increase usage and safety. Park renovation projects at Smith Playground in Allston, Noyes Park in East Boston, and Garvey Playground in Dorchester will create more inclusive parks, and FY17 will see the beginning of a comprehensive redesign of the 45-acre Harambee Park in Dorchester and Mattapan.   

Striving toward Excellence 
Parks First will expand the department's seasonal park ranger and maintenance workforce to ensure that Boston's neighborhood parks receive an increased level of care and safe spaces for residents and visitors.  

Health and Safety 

Increased EMS Resources 
To meet the heightened demand for emergency medical services fueled by an increasing population and to ensure Mayor Walsh's vision for Boston as the healthiest city in the nation, the Administration is investing in additional EMTs and new ambulance vehicles for FY17. 

Improving Addiction Services through Boston 311 
As a result of the opiates crisis in Boston and across the nation, the City is adding resources to the Public Health Commission's PAATHS (Providing Access to Addictions Treatment, Hope and Support) program, a one-stop shop for those seeking information about, or access to, addiction treatment services. Individuals will now be able to reach the PAATHS program through Boston's 311 service.

Enhancing Community Center Hours and Programming 
BCYF will dedicate the Grove Hall Community Center as a senior center, expand Saturday evening hours, enable five centers to operate 7-days per week, and allow 17 centers to operate 6-days per week, resulting in centers that are better equipped to provide quality programming for all residents, especially seniors and youth. This expansion will come at no additional cost to the taxpayer, as BCYF will realign operations and focus its resources on sites with uninterrupted access and increased demand for more programs.

Revitalizing Fire Engines and Ladders 
Based on recommendations from the Fire department's independent operational review, Boston will launch a revamped fire engine and ladder replacement plan to replace 48% of the fleet within 4 years, and 78% within 8 years. In FY17, the department will acquire 15 new fire apparatus and improve vehicle maintenance.  

Expanding Access for All 

Connect all Boston Public Schools to the City's fiber network 
The City will expand its fiber optic network to connect approximately 90 additional public schools reducing costs and making more bandwidth available.

Enhancing Translation and Interpretation Services 
Boston will launch new methods of engagement with the non-English speaking residents of Boston. Starting in FY17, Boston 311 call takers will have the ability to interact with Bostonians through interpreters. The City will also be able to translate more newsletters and other notices in a variety of languages.   

Building Thriving Community Libraries 
Boston will launch the reinvigoration of the Adams Branch Library, begin replacement of the Uphams Corner Branch Library, begin design and construction at the Dudley Branch Library, and continue construction on the renovation of the Jamaica Plain Branch.  Branch library projects not only improve library services in neighborhoods, but can also assist with local economic development efforts as well.