The following is a press release from the City’s Public Information Officer
FRAMINGHAM – The Framingham City Council gave final approval to the City’s FY 2019 budget this week.
The vote was historic on dual fronts, as it was the first budget approved by a City Council in Framingham’s 318-year history.
Further it is the first budget in the Proposition 2 ½ era featuring a reduction in the base tax levy.
Framingham City Council Chairman Dennis Giombetti said he was pleased with the outcome, stating, “As someone who served on the Charter Commission I think this budget process was representative of what we hoped for, the ability to impact residents in a positive way. This budget sees a decrease in the base tax levy, while maintaining services at the high level we expect.”
The budget took a different approach to spending, prioritizing a reduction of the tax levy over the recent years trend of building up city reserves.
City reserves are at an historically high level and the Council decided that individual taxpayers should share in the wealth of recent years. Framingham’s revenue has been very strong for the last five years due to a large increase in state aid and a growing real estate tax base.
City Council Finance Committee Chairman George King said he was pleased overall with the budget process and the ultimate result.
“It was the first time any of us went through the process in this manner and overall I think we did well. I am confident that what we learned this year will allow us to dig deeper into the budget and operations as we search for efficiency over the next year,” King said.
Although the overall tax levy was decreased, the impact on the individual homeowner is not known. Due to a disproportionate rise in residential property values compared to commercial values there is a chance the average residential tax bill may still increase.
The final determination on this issue will not be made until the Fall when the city council holds a classification hearing to determine the allocation of values.
The City Council approved several new municipal positions including a Citizens Participation Office in the Mayor’s office and a Sustainability Coordinator in the Facilities area. The Council did not approve the Mayor’s request for $100,000 to establish the position of Chief Diversity and Inclusion officer. However, the council endorsed a request that the need for the position be studied and a plan formulated for their review and consideration in the Fall.
Giombetti explained the Council’s positions further saying, “With respect to the Diversity and Inclusion Officer the Mayor and Council both agree with the outcomes, to improve all aspects of diversity in our community but we differ on the means to achieve those outcomes. We look forward to working together over the coming months and years to reach those desirable results.”
Overall the City Council reduced the Mayor’s original operating budget proposal by just over $3,000,000 and the utility enterprise fund recommendation by $100,000. The Council approved most of the Mayor’s capital budget requests that include a new Beaver Street Bridge, a rebuilt Edgell Road culvert and a substantial street reconstruction program among many other projects.