Mayor Spicer Requests $300.9 Million Framingham Budget – $4.5 Million Increase

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FRAMINGHAM – City of Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer submitted a $300.9 Million budget to the Framingham City Council on Thursday night, April 30.

The budget is a $4.5 million increase from the current fiscal year’s budget, which ends on June 30, 2020.

The Fiscal Year 2020 budget, which ends on June 30, was $296.4 million.

The fiscal year 2019 budget was $291.3 million. Framingham’s fiscal year 2018 budget was $282.05 million and the fiscal year the Town of Framingham’s 2017 budget was $268.05 million

The fiscal year 2021 Framingham Public Schools budget request, voted unanimously by the elected 9-member Framingham School Committee in March of $147.35 million was significantly cut by Mayor Spicer to $142.2 million. That number is still an increase over its current budget for the 2019-2020 school year of $137.873 million.

The Mayor wrote to City Councilors in submitting her budget.

“Eight weeks ago, the world changed. Our sole focus has been the health and safety of the City’s residents. This budget continues that focus and adapts to the financial difficulties both residents and your government are managing,” said the Mayor in her budget statement.

The Mayor said “80% of city operating budgets cut below FY20 levels.”

The City Council will now review the budget and can make cuts. A final vote by the 11-member City Council is expected in June.

The City Council’s Finance Subcommittee, chaired by District 3 Councilor Adam Steiner will hold its first FY21 budget meeting on Saturday morning, May 2.

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Below is Mayor Spicer’s budget statement she submitted to City Councilor’s last night, April 30. It is published in its entirety.

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Dear Councilors,

Our world, country, state, and city have transformed dramatically in the last two months. Despite these changes, we are all in this together.

The City of Framingham remains strong and has collectively made it a mission to support and protect our community while preserving
municipal services and adding resources to aid our vulnerable citizens.
In this new reality the goal of the FY21 budget is to present a balanced budget within a decreased revenue projection while maintaining as
many services as possible for our residents and business community.

Original FY21 revenue projections have been restructured to reflect
our current financial reality and all budgets have been decreased to align with these projections. Communities throughout the nation are
grappling with these immediate changes and we have worked diligently to build a budget respectful of this new financial picture.


Though the FY21 budget will be limited, Framingham’s financial condition is strong and able to withstand and flex with the current
situation. Since FY2009, the City has applied best practices in municipal finance to dedicate funds to reserves, or “rainy day funds”;
including a Stabilization Fund, Free Cash balances and developing excess capacity within the tax levy. These “rainy day funds” are set aside and available to provide resources in the event of a critical financial situation.

FY21 is the proper time to apply these reserves which allows
us to mitigate real estate tax increases while continuing our commitment to provide vital services to our residents and business community.
Framingham’s residents and business community have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and increasing taxes at this time is not a
step your government will take.

The FY21 budget applies free cash to offset the 2.5% levy increase completely. In addition to limiting real estate tax growth, we will use our financial reserves to limit water and sewer utility rate increases.

The pandemic has significantly reduced water and sewer utility rate revenue by shutting down and limiting businesses that generate the most revenue. Rather than increase water and sewer utility rates to make up for this revenue loss, the City is limiting expenses and allocating reserves while maintaining services.

The FY21 budget preserves critical services for Framingham taxpayers. City departments have worked cooperatively with the finance and
administrative teams to limit FY21 operating and small capital budgets while aiming to preserve services essential to our community.

The majority of operating budgets have been level-funded or reduced below their FY20 budget appropriations.

Budgets for departments that provide services that likely cannot happen in the first quarter of the new fiscal year (beginning July 1, 2020), given the restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, have been properly reduced. Budgets that include an increase provide key components of public health and safety, education and technology thus sustaining services critical to our community.

The pandemic directly affected many Framingham residents, business and services. From a local government perspective, how we do business has changed dramatically.

Employees have limited interaction with the public and with each other. Places where we used to gather for educational programs, concerts and recreation are temporarily closed. Restaurants and bars, certain retail stores and shops are no longer open to enter. You can get curbside pickup and home delivery.

Since the City cannot provide some direct services to the public yet, and we do not know when things will return to normal, or what will be the new normal; expense budgets have been reduced. Departments requested additional resources, most notably $1.8 million for Stormwater regulation compliance in DPW and $8.8 million for school enrollment, special education and implementation of the Student Opportunity Act ($4.2 million alone).

Combined, all departments and commissions requested a budget increase of $15.4 million [$8.8 million by the School Department, $6.1 million by municipal departments, $297,866 from Keefe Tech and $184,000 from City Commissions]. These requests cannot be fulfilled.

Our new economic reality has required that we review all budgets and focus on maintaining our core services; only what is required to keep our city safe and healthy.

To that end the city has taken the following measures:

• The City has implemented a hiring freeze, which began on March 18th which will continue through FY21. Only positions that directly impact public safety or public health will be considered for hire.

• All Division Head and senior management salaries are frozen at FY20 levels through FY21. No performance or merit increases are
funded in this budget.

• Seasonal positions that are generally hired to support increased summer work, park maintenance, and summer recreation programs have been reduced by half. Funding remains in place for spring 2021 work and programming.

• Funding for professional development and training has been reduced to only what is necessary for safety training and professional
licenses and certifications. Funding for out of state conferences and travel has been eliminated.

• Funding is reduced for hazardous waste day to one day; curbside brush and leaf pick up has been reduced to half the number of weeks for FY21. The Recycle Center is budgeted to open for the full fiscal year and Yard Waste Facility will remain open and follow the usual schedule for the fiscal year.

• 80% of city operating budgets cut below FY20 levels.

Three months ago, Framingham looked forward to investing in its most vital services, such as water quality through stormwater improvements, public health and safety, and education.

Eight weeks ago, the world changed. Our sole focus has been the health and safety of the City’s residents. This budget continues that focus and adapts to the financial difficulties both residents and your government are
managing.

Sincerely,

Dr. Yvonne M. Spicer
Mayor

editor

email: editor@FraminghamSource.com call or text at 508-315-7176


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