For Immediate Release: 5/15/2017 2:16 pm
Worcester, MA (May 15, 2017) - View City Manager Augustus' proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Document, recommending a tax levy appropriation in the amount of $632,201,552.00 for the purposes and to the accounts identified in the Line Item Budget contained therein.
The FY18 budget creates the opportunity to make strategic investments in our priorities - education, infrastructure and neighborhood improvements - all while staying true to our updated long-term financial plan. Over the past three years, we have expanded economic development and increased vitality in our great and growing City, and we have to continue that momentum. This budget invests in the future of our youth by starting to fund the construction of two brand new high schools, adds innovative public safety programs, focuses on cleaning up our neighborhoods and parks, and identifies solutions to important issues identified by the City Council and the residents of Worcester to improve the livability of our neighborhoods.
Building on Education
Education is a core responsibility that provides a key value to our city. Improving education is an investment in our community and its economic development. This budget builds on our commitments to invest in education funding:
New Public Safety Programs, Equipment and Personnel
Crime is down in the City due to significant efforts and strong funding of public safety personnel and programs. In FY18, we raise the bar even higher:
Improving Neighborhoods, Parks and Infrastructure
My proposed budget builds upon our commitment to provide excellence in the delivery of core services, improves valued city resources, and creates new opportunities to address some persistent issues of concern. We have acknowledged the concerns of your honorable body and those of our residents who attend our Neighborhood Watch meetings and have implemented several new initiatives to address improve the livability of our neighborhoods:
Strengthen Long Range Financial Planning
As presented to City Council in March, we have incorporated the updates to the City's Long-Term Financial Plan into this budget, allowing us to address our shared public priorities and continuing our efforts as good stewards of the City's finances:
Financial Overview: The following summarizes the major financial changes from the FY17 budget. Details for each department are included in the complete budget document attached to this communication.
|Fiscal Year 2017 Budget (Tax Recap)||Proposed Fiscal Year 2018 Budget||Fiscal Year 2017/2018 Change||Percentage Change|
|State Aid Education||237,217,701||247,105,031||9,887,330||4.17%|
|State Aid General||53,800,865||49,767,224||(2)||(4,033,641)||-7.5%|
|Other Available Funds||697,519||699,930||2,411||0.35%|
|Education (WPS - including assessments)||350,462,429||361,828,709||(3)||11,366,280||3.24%|
- In FY17: FY 14-16 Wage Reserve
- Snow Program
Overall, the City's budget increases $13.8M, or 2.24%. More than $11M of that increase is being allocated to the Worcester Public Schools, based on state funding that increased by $9.9M combined with City funding that exceeds the required minimum by $1.75M.
Fixed Costs including debt service, pensions, worker's compensation, injured on duty payments, and health insurance will decrease by $226,403, thanks to a lower cost of borrowing due to the City's improved bond rating, and an ongoing commitment to reforms on the part of our City Administration and the cooperation of our partners in the City's bargaining units.
$550,000 will be used to fund the OPEB Trust - the City's second contribution from the recommended operating budget into the OPEB Trust. This is a 10% increase over FY17 per the Long Term Financial Plan. The City will still plan to meet its obligation under the Five Point Plan to deposit 30% of Free Cash into the OPEB Trust when that amount is certified next fall.
Public Safety spending increases by $1.75M due to our commitment to maintain staffing levels in both departments with recruit classes. (This does not include FY17's artificially inflated number, due to a $2.44 retroactive wage payments to the fire department). In addition, the budget allocates funding for the programs and initiatives mentioned above.
The Department of Public Works and Parks shows an increase from FY17 to FY18. This increase is driven largely by the updated snow program. The budget also includes investments in the Parks division for stump removal, island maintenance, turf management, and dog parks. The Public Works and Parks budget includes increases in the days of operation for the Park Steward program and adds funding to maintain the City's pool and beach services, while increasing the wages for summer and temporary staff.
Other operational departments show an increase of $613,911. This includes continuing the need to fund expected legal settlements; increasing the Veteran's Benefits line item to match recent spending levels (spending on Veteran's benefits is reimbursed by the Commonwealth at 75%). The Contingency line item will increase $750,000 to fund a portion of the FY18 wage increase. The wage and benefit package will include a 2% salary increase concurrently with the implementation and savings from the most recent health insurance changes consistent with the recently settled WPS collective bargaining units. All remaining departments increase $1M, or 3%, inclusive of all budgetary adjustments, contractual salary amounts, and program costs.
The budget document linked above provides detailed information on each department as well the line item budget containing the legal appropriation recommended amounts for the FY18 Operating Budget. This comprehensive recommendation achieves not only a balance of our revenues and expenditures, but an opportunity to build on our successes, improve on the delivery of municipal services, while incorporating the sound principles of our updated long-term financial plan. With this budget, we will commit to a better future for our schools and our city.
Edward M. Augustus, Jr.