The Boston City Council today unanimously approved the Fiscal Year 2014 budget submitted by Mayor Thomas M. Menino. The $2.6 billion Operating Budget and five year $1.8 billion Capital Plan, including $196 million in FY 2014 new project authorizations, were approved by a 13-0 vote. The $937.4 million Boston Public Schools budget was also approved unanimously. Fiscal Year 2014 begins onJuly 1, 2013.
“I am pleased that the City Council approved this budget, the final one of my Administration. It invests in all neighborhoods and continues to build on the strengths and relationships that have propelled Boston forward,” Mayor Menino said. “I would like to thank Council President Murphy and Councilors Ciommo and LaMattina, the respective Chair and Co-Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, for their leadership and support.”
The FY 2014 budget includes initiatives that keep Boston at the forefront of reinvention: changes at Boston Public Schools to increase access to quality, new housing to meet the needs of young professionals and middle-class families, and online learning for Boston’s neighborhoods. At the core of this budget is a desire to continue to build neighborhoods, provide residents an unparalleled quality of life, and support neighbors as they help one another.
The $2.6 billion FY 2014 Operating Budget is a 5.2 percent increase over last year’s budget, representing an increase of $128.5 million. Property taxes continue to be the City’s largest source of revenue, along with hotel, meals and other excise tax revenue. The City’s second largest source of revenue, net state aid from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, is expected to decline by $18.8 million from FY 2013 budgeted levels. This perpetuates the loss of state aid incurred over the last seven years, now estimated to be about $154 million lower than FY 2008.
The $937.4 million budget for Boston Public Schools for FY 2014 represents a $57 million increase over the current year’s budget and builds on the Mayor’s continued efforts to provide high quality schools that are close to home for all of Boston’s families. A new $30 million Quality Improvement Fund will help the Boston Public Schools invest in upgraded school facilities, technology, and teacher quality as the district puts its new home-based school choice plan into place.
Boston Public Schools expects to welcome nearly 1,200 new students this fall, representing the highest enrollment in more than eight years. The budget allows the Schools to offer all students the strong choices they have come to expect in the City through increased teacher and school leader support; safer, more welcoming, and innovative school facilities; and greater investments in time and partnerships that extend the school day where extra learning is needed the most.
The FY 2014 budget focuses on lifting up all of Boston’s neighborhoods through:
- Meeting the housing needs of residents: Mayor Menino’s Housing Boston 2020 initiative will launch, creating 20,000 – 30,000 units of housing by the year 2020 to accommodate the city’s growing population and its changing needs. Additionally, one million square feet of City-owned real estate will be made available to small builders at below-market prices in 2013 and 2014 to increase homeownership among middle class families.
- Supporting young women: Boston Centers for Youth & Families will designate “Girls Only” time at sites citywide, engaging teenage girls in programming that promotes leadership, civic engagement and skill building. Through a partnership with the WAGE project, the City will host negotiation workshops to teach young women the skills required to negotiate for fair pay.
- Engaging youth: For the first time, the City will set aside $1 million for youth to participate in a year-long budgeting process. Through participatory budgeting, young Bostonians will identify projects in their communities, vet those projects and consider trade-offs in making funding decisions.
- Modernizing the resident experience: Digital learning will serve as a central theme for Boston Public Schools, Boston Public Libraries, and Boston Centers for Youth & Families. Initiatives will result in 10,000 more mobile computing devices for students, blended learning courses for residents at community centers, and the launch of an iPad lending program for residents. The nation’s first City Hall to Go truck will transition from a pilot to an initiative with a set schedule that allows it to visit every neighborhood in the City at least once a month.
- Sustaining progress and healthy growth: As the City continues to prepare for impacts of climate change, the Environment Department will update its Climate Action Plan. Boston Public Schools will triple their recycling rate to 20 percent by June 2014, and 170 new BigBelly trash and recycling receptacles will be added throughout the City and its parks.
The City’s $1.8 billion five-year capital plan features $196 million worth of new project authorizations in 2014. The capital plan’s theme, Cities are Neighborhoods, recognizes that the City draws its core strength from its neighborhoods. Significant capital projects slated for funding in FY 2014 include:
- Mayor Menino will continue his investment in the revitalization of Dudley Square, a $119 million development project that will revitalize the historic Ferdinand building and bring new people, businesses, and economic opportunity to Dudley Square. The project broke ground in Spring 2012 and is expected to be completed in Fall 2014.
- Work will begin on a new park for children with physical disabilities in the Charlestown Navy Yard, as well as an overhaul of recreational facilities at West Roxbury Education Complex.
- The Boston Public Library will begin construction this year on the transformation of the Johnson Building at the Central branch. This project will open the main floor to Boylston Street, improve and expand the Children’s room, and upgrade the Rabb lecture hall. Construction will continue at a stunning new library in East Boston, set to open its doors this fall.
In January 2014, Mayor Menino’s administration will transition to the next one. The FY 2014 budget provides funds for a smooth and stable transition. Resources are provided to be used in the time period before the November election to lay the groundwork for a transition and, after the election, for the Mayor-elect to begin to assemble the administration.