Framingham Mayor Spicer Proposes 2.5% Tax Hike in $307 Million Budget Proposal

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FRAMINGHAM – Mayor Yvonne Spicer is proposing a tax hike for residents in businesses in her Fiscal Year 2022 budget.

The proposed $307.4 million budget calls for the full 2.5% tax levy increase, the maximum allowed under state law. The Spicer administration budget is a 4% increase from last year’s budget.

The budget proposal also calls for $1.4 million less for the Framingham Public Schools. The School Committee uninanomusly voted for a $148.2 million budget request on March 31. Mayor Spicer is giving the school department just a 2.5% increase and a budget of only $146.8 million in her proposed budget.

The budget was delivered to the City Council late on Friday, April 30, after 8:30 p.m.

It was delivered by the City’s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) using a new software platform called OpenGov

The platform featured a lot of photos and colorful graphics, but few numbers.

And when you tried to delve into the specifics and numbers, it required a password to access.

SOURCE reached out to the City’s Chief Information Officers about the issues and the response just before 11 p.m. was “Thank you for the feedback. I have a note into the CFO.”

City Councilors were also frustrated with the new budget system.

Several said they needed a password to open files and did not have one.

The proposed budget also came with a statement from the Mayor. (Below is the statement in its entirety)

I am pleased to present the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget for the City of Framingham. The budget was prepared over the last several months in consultation with the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operating Officer, and Division Heads.

As we developed this budget, we looked through the lens of the original five promises I made to the City when I was inaugurated in January 2018:

1. Smooth Transition to City form of Government

2. Excellence in Education

3. Invigorating our Economy through Planned Growth and Balanced Development

4. Preservation of Assets, Resources, and Quality of Life

5. Investing in our People

Last year, when I drafted this communication, I was on a mission to “help maintain a sense of normalcy by keeping services and adding resources to aid those who are vulnerable.” To say that I’m proud of what Framingham has done through this pandemic would be an understatement.

Springtime brings a new perspective and provides us renewal, but this season is remarkable. We are starting to emerge from the pandemic, and the world is getting back to normal. You might even say that we are weathering COVID-19.

Despite living in a pandemic for the last year, Framingham’s financial footing is solid. We are fortunate to be guided by Chief Financial Officer Mary Ellen Kelley and benefit from her implementation of many financial best practices.

To help turn the page and move forward with vigor, Framingham will receive $27.9 million over two years from American Rescue Plan. The City expects to receive final guidance from the Treasury Department on May 10 about how the money can be used, but we already have some basic guidelines on how the money can be spent and cannot be spent.

You will see a balanced budget that is slightly larger than last year’s to recoup some of the services Framingham had to delay in FY2021.

There will be a 2.5% levy increase for this fiscal year, which means a $240/year increase in taxes for the average taxpayer or $60 a quarter.

We also are estimating nearly $3 million in tax-base growth in FY22.

The fiscal management of the budget is one of the keys to our success as a municipality. This budget reflects our ongoing efforts by focusing on the five promises, strategic thinking, and deliberate decision-making to balance revenue while preserving Framingham services.

The proposed General Fund, otherwise known as the operating budget, is $307,404,152 million, a 4% increase over the FY21 budget.

We have invested in specific front-line services such as:

  • Additional curbside leaf and brush pick up
  • An additional hazardous waste disposal day
  • Restoring:
    • Funds for beaches, including lifeguards and bathhouse attendants, while maintaining free beach access
    • Skate guards and laborers at Loring Arena
    • Seasonal work crews for many of our sports fields and parks
    • Seasonal conservation crews to begin work conservation walking trails
  • The ability to quickly hire police staff due to the department being out of the Civil Service and funding anticipated hiring
  • Investing in public health nursing staff based on lessons learned from the pandemic
  • Increasing responsibilities of current Access Compliance Inspector to become a full-time ADA coordinator
  • Investment in an economic development coordinator to attract new businesses to the City

The City will continue to support our schools in the same excellent manner which it has historically. The City is proposing a budget of $146,830,670 – or roughly $3.6 million over FY21.

The school’s operating budget accounts for 48% of the General Fund budget. This operating budget is inclusive of salaries and day-to-day school operations. The schools’ budget does not include benefits and retirement costs for non-teachers, school debt service, and state assessments. When those are added, the school department’s budget accounts for an estimated 61% of the General Fund.

We continually explore opportunities to gain efficiencies, such as implementing technologies to serve residents better and looking hard at our current and future staffing to help best meet the City’s needs. In our FY22 budget, all of our residents’ services will increase from the FY21 level.

Finally, I would like to express my appreciation to our employees. Without their contributions and daily commitment, we would be unable to provide for Framingham residents. The City’s financial position represents an organizational culture of innovation and a team that challenges itself to deliver excellent services at an affordable cost to the residents of our City.

editor

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