Boston Mayor Michelle Wu proposed her operating budget for the fiscal year 2023 Wednesday morning, along with other spending plans for the city. The document is just a proposal, an opening bid from the mayor; the City Council now gets to work in what will be a monthslong process of hearings and debate over how much the city should spend this fiscal year.
Here are some highlights:
The $3.99 billion proposed operating budget would spend $216 million more than the city allocated for the last fiscal year, an increase of 5.7 percent.
Use of ARPA funds
Roughly $350 million remains to be allocated from a flexible pot of federal COVID relief funds from the federal rescue package known as the America Rescue Plan Act. Here is how Wu proposes to spend it:
- $206 million toward creating affordable housing, assistance for first-generation home-buyers, and updating public housing units;
- $34 million for economic opportunity and inclusion, to grow businesses owned by people of color and to expand tuition-free college and workforce training programs;
- $31 million toward climate-focused investments, such as expanding the Green Youth Jobs program, creating walking and biking infrastructure, and strengthening local food systems;
- $15 million on the early education and child-care system.
Wu is proposing to invest $380 million into affordable housing. The Housing Cabinet, which would grow by $6.5 million or 18.3 percent, would build staffing capacity in the cabinet and increase resources for low income property renters.
Wu is proposing a 1 percent cut to the Boston Police Department budget, from just under $400 million allocated in fiscal year 2022 to about $396 million in fiscal year 2023. She proposes to spend about $10 million less on personnel services, while increasing the department’s budget in other areas.
Education spending makes up 41 percent of Wu’s proposed operating budget, with 34 percent towards the Boston Public Schools and 7 percent toward charter school tuition. The BPS budget is increasing by $40.1 million over last year, with a record $1.33 billion in funding.
Collecting bargaining reserve
Wu’s proposed budget sets aside $79 million for the collective bargaining reserve for settling contracts with city, public health, and Boston Public Schools unions. Most of the collective bargaining units the city deals with — there are more than 20 in total — currently have expired contracts. This would be 2 percent of the overall operating budget.
Public Health Commission
The Public Health Commission budget would grow by $7 million (6.3 percent), which Wu says would include key investments in a citywide mental health initiative, alternative mental health responses, and additional EMTs.
See some of the largest changes between the 2022 budget and Wu’s 2023 proposal
Some of the largest swings in funding occurred in areas Wu has announced she’ll undertake new initiatives.
The newly-created Office of Black Male Advancement, which she proposes to fund with $1.2 million, and the Office of LGBTQ+ Advancement, for which she earmarked $295,000, came with cuts to other programs; the Office of Equity, for example, would see its budget trimmed from $4.3 million in the last fiscal year to $1.4 million, and the Office of Women’s Advancement would receive about $400,00 less than it was allocated for fiscal year 2022.
Overall, Wu’s operating budget would slightly trim spending for the city’s Equity and Inclusion Cabinet. However, the city plans to put other funds, like the COVID relief money, toward other equity-focused initiatives.
Below, see changes to the budget at the cabinet level, and also at the department level.
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