Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

April 21, 2013

The Bottom Line – City of Cambridge Budget Totals by Department – FY2014

Filed under: Cambridge — Tags: — Robert Winters @ 2:58 am
GENERAL GOVERNMENTFY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
City Council$975,570$1,642,165$1,683,1252.572.5
City Clerk$720,925$1,067,130$1,119,7654.955.3
Employee Benefits$20,499,920$31,796,130$32,787,2003.159.9
General Services$984,345$726,475$732,6950.9-25.6
Public Celebrations$671,505$799,370$891,94511.632.8
PUBLIC SAFETYFY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
Animal Commission$228,870$298,585$309,7003.735.3
Traffic, Parking & Transportation$8,175,095$10,551,435$10,935,0153.633.8
Police Review & Advisory Board$77,210$70,730$73,4403.8-4.9
Inspectional Services$2,261,215$3,115,045$3,180,0452.140.6
Weights & Measures$98,910$134,325$138,5403.140.1
Emergency Management$137,820$0  -100.0
Emergency Communications$3,097,485$4,242,970$4,434,4254.543.2
COMMUNITY MAINT/DEVELOPMENTFY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
Public Works$23,648,125$31,945,265$32,859,6902.939.0
Community Development$4,472,620$5,482,210$5,676,3403.526.9
Historical Commission$457,580$587,025$632,9407.838.3
Conservation Commission$89,760$101,925$123,47021.137.6
Peace Commission$76,215$139,595$143,9403.188.9
Cable T.V.$999,500$1,436,360$1,474,7952.747.6
Debt Service$23,917,070$47,526,975$49,716,2504.6107.9
HUMAN RESOURCE/DEVELOPMENTFY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
Human Services$14,581,590$22,480,760$23,155,0803.058.8
Women’s Commission$155,860$225,425$233,1153.449.6
Human Rights Commission$158,730$220,160$249,38013.357.1
CITY TOTAL$189,027,420$281,890,700$293,984,4254.355.5
EDUCATIONFY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
Schools Operating (TOTAL)$122,053,195$144,987,705$150,989,4454.123.7
INTERGOVERNMENTALFY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
Cherry Sheet Assessments$11,569,960$19,700,025$20,126,9502.274.0
Cambridge Health Alliance$6,500,000$6,500,000$6,500,0000.00.0
GRAND TOTALS$345,328,030$474,084,485$492,947,6354.042.7
 FY05 submittedFY13 submittedFY14 submitted1 yr % change9 yr % change
PUBLIC INVESTMENT$8,834,255$21,277,065$92,715,930335.8949.5


  1. 1) Debt service/employee benefits are scarily high, any principal in that number?

    2) Water goes down but my bill keeps going up? what a world…

    3) 72.5% increase in the city council budget in 9 years? That is insane for a part-time position.

    4) Whats in the Mayoral number?

    5) Public Investment? Parks etc.???

    6) Peace commission and human right commission? Egad man! I bet I could streamline both into an efficient non-expense event.

    Comment by Patrick Barret — April 21, 2013 @ 8:35 am

  2. Even after some refinancing, the Debt Service it’s still a steep curve. The new Library and Police Station must be a significant part of the sum and some of it is attributable to sewer debt, but I’ll have to check the Budget Book when it’s available on Monday. We also now have the debt associated with the new King School construction. The Debt Position in the FY13 Budget showed a Total Debt of $340,348,517, a Debt Payment of $40,248,252, Interest of $11,278,259, and a Required Appropriation of $51,526,511.

    Here’s how the Debt Service amounts have grown over the last 9 years.
    Fiscal Year —– Debt Service
    FY05 submitted – $23,917,070
    FY06 adopted — $28,075,305
    FY07 submitted – $33,069,585
    FY08 submitted – $34,254,025
    FY09 submitted – $40,211,460
    FY10 submitted – $43,293,670
    FY11 submitted – $45,305,655
    FY12 submitted – $44,594,830
    FY13 submitted – $47,526,975
    FY14 submitted – $49,716,250

    The FY13 amount included:
    $36,936,085 Bonded Debt
    $10,298,060 Interest on Bonds
    plus a few minor payments and fees.

    Employee benefits have been a budget buster for years, but it seems like the growth may have slowed a little.

    Comment by Robert Winters — April 21, 2013 @ 10:46 am

  3. What does the peace commission do? I love that we have one at $143k and I couldn’t even drum up $5k for the events I paid out of pocket for at JBR park.

    Comment by Patrick Barrett — April 21, 2013 @ 11:05 am

  4. I have a lot of respect for the current executive director of the Peace Commission, but I strongly believe the commission should be eliminated. The previous executive director regularly used the position to promote her own personal politics, and the whole thing is just a tax-funded political platform.

    There are plenty of other structures and opportunities to support good peace initiatives. The original mission of the Cambridge Peace Commission became obsolete a long time ago.

    Do I believe the Cambridge City Council will initiate a reevaluation of its various non-regulatory boards and commissions? Nope. You have to go along to get along.

    Comment by Robert Winters — April 21, 2013 @ 12:28 pm

  5. Cambridge has been able to achieve a substantial amount of new building in the last decade with the new police station, war memorial, library, high school and soon to come new lower and upper schools. Increased taxes from commercial development has helped to finance much of this building and rebuilding as residential property taxes have stayed significantly below those assessed in neighboring communities. Take for example the amount of debt that can be financed by the recently approved rezoning of MITs Kendall Square sites. Take the increase of $10 million in annual taxes after the buildout is complete and you have the ability to finance bonding capable of paying for two new upper school campuses while maintaining a $100 million balance in free case and $100 million in excess tax levy capacity.

    The employee benefits are driven by two principal factors, the pension and the other post employment benefits (mostly healthcare). Pension costs are driven by the losses experienced in 2008 combined with increases in salaries and li expectancies. The City is targeting being fully funded by 2029 or so and remains one of the most highly funded plans in the state. OPEB is calculated in a similar manner and determines how much we should be putting aside to pay for future medical expenses for current employees. We currently pay for employee post employment healthcare on a pay-as-you-go basis so as health care costs rise and the number of employees collecting rises (along with the general trend that healthcare costs for older Americans is higher than for younger Americans which affects Cambridge because the City is essentially self insured) and you have the ingredients for increasing benefit costs into the future. The City has set aside a small amount to cover these future, but, and this should be no surprise, this is an area that with our resources that I would hope we could and will do better.

    Finally, it is human nature to focus on areas in which programs can be added rather than areas in which programs can be eliminated especially in a budget that is healthy, I.e. not in need of cuts required in other communities simply to achieve balance. However, that is no reason why the City should not occasionally review each program to ensure that the need envisioned when it was established still exists. If not, the resources could be applied to other areas of need for which there are many.

    The annual Cambridge Budget is a document that I enjoy reading. Laugh as you might, but it is award winning for a reason and I look forward to seeing the first budget from our recently appointed Budget Director.

    Comment by Charlie Marquardt — April 21, 2013 @ 6:39 pm

  6. I only laughed a little bit ; )

    Comment by Patrick Barrett — April 21, 2013 @ 7:18 pm

  7. Realized I posted this on the agenda when it belongs here:

    Budget Ideas:

    I would consolidate the Historical Commission and Conservation Commission; the Women’s Commission, Human Rights Commission, Peace Commission, and Police Advisory Board into an all encompassing ‘Human Rights’ Commission; Veterans into Human Services; and I am curious why we have a generous Peace Commission budget and no Emergency Management budget? In light of last week’s tragedy it would seem prudent to come up with a comprehensive Emergency Management strategy and to start running drills like Boston did. This is not an overreaction, the drills Menino had in Boston clearly saved lives by making law enforcement, first responders, and medical personnel aware of their roles and how to react during a crisis. We should do that for our hospitals, law enforcement, and first responders as well. I would also consolidate Emergency Communications into that, since effective Command and Control requires integrated communication strategies. But, and this is just my opinion, but I would suspect an Emergency Management budget would be more effective at stopping terrorism than the Peace Commission.

    I also share the respect Robert has of the current director, I am facebook and linked in friends with him, and feel in the right hands the Peace Commission could be effective, but I also see it having significant overlap and responsibilities with the other commissions I proposed merging it with. The Peace Commission has the kind of easily mockable title and portfolio, but I do think gang violence prevention, early interventions with conflict resolutions, anti-bullying, etc. are vital and essential and can be easily folded under the Human Rights Commission umbrella, along with the Women’s Commission (womens rights are human rights is a common mantra after all). I also understand politically nationally and locally that separating Veterans outside of Human Services looks like prioritizing their issues, but it actually puts their resources into a more isolated and limited portfolio. Putting it into human services allows them to access other, non Veterans specific resources while also ensuring a more consistent and generous strain of funding.

    And just to restate it-the Emergency management budget being ZERO is quite egregious and this can and should be a MAJOR campaign issue and priority in the upcoming election.

    An Atlantic article showed why Boston areas hospitals and first responders performed so fantastically and why we were able to catch the terrorists so quickly, it’s important Cambridge adopts many of the same strategies, and not just for terrorism. We are incredibly vulnerable to bioterrorism and nuclear terrorism, accidental release of NBC material from MIT, Harvard, or any of the biotech and chemical companies that call our city home, flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, and snow emergencies. Emergency management is about preventing disaster or mitigating it’s effects, and should be a TOP priority for a city of our size and vulnerability.

    Comment by James Conway — April 26, 2013 @ 12:12 pm

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