Acting Mayor Kim Janey’s proposed budget would spend nearly 4% over last year’s total — though despite looking to hire more cops, she’s seeking to cut the police budget further.
Janey is rolling out her first pass at a budget on Wednesday, planning to lay out the details to councilors in a virtual version of the traditional long breakfast meeting her predecessors have had.
The fiscal ’22 budget budget weighs in at a hefty $3.75 billion, up from $3.61 billion for the current year. The 3.9% increase is up from a 3.4% bump from fiscal ’20 to ’21 in the teeth of the pandemic.
The Boston Police Department budget, which is sure to be the most headline-grabbing portion, will drop to just a hair under $400 million for the year, down from a budgeted $404 million last year as the city for a second year in a row looks to shrink the amount of cash headed to the department as activists push to “defund the police.”
Janey’s budget officials are actually attempting to sell it as a much larger $21 million cut, citing the number that the department will actually cost the city this year because it is set to overshoot the overtime budget by $17 million this year.
Janey’s budget would cut police overtime down to $44 million, $4 million less than what was budgeted for the current fiscal year — after the budget last year cut it by $12 million amid the protests over department funding.
In the name of public safety, the overtime budget is allowed to go over its set mark without any repercussions — and it always does so. The department last year did decrease OT spending significantly, but went over by the millions it did in part because of the frequent demonstrations and an uptick in retirements contributing to the BPD’s staffing woes.
The budget does look to expand the 2,200-officer force by 30 cops.
Budget officials insisted the department is in much better shape to hit this budgeted number than the city was for the current year.
The budget also includes $40 million in new coronavirus health and economic recovery efforts and $66 million more for the $1.5 billion Boston Public Schools budget.
The budget is largely funded by property taxes, which have been resilient throughout the pandemic — but the city has budgeted for less new growth than in past years. Nearly $100 million in incoming coronavirus relief cash helps balance the budget amid lower department revenue and money coming in through excise taxes.
The administration is required to send the city council a budget by mid-April. The council will hash it over in a series of long hearings before sending it back to the mayor’s office, which has the opportunity to make changes before re-submitting it. The budget has to pass by the end of June, when the fiscal year ends.
Last year’s final vote became deeply controversial, with several city councilors — including then-Council President Janey — voting against it because they sought deeper cuts to the police department.