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Boston Government Jobs Cut Under New Budget

Posted on April 21, 2009

Hundreds of Boston government jobs will be lost under the city’s new budget.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino recently announced that the city has come up with a $2.4 billion budget, which has been submitted to the Boston City Council. While the budget still projects that 565 jobs will still be lost, various cost saving measures were able to save 446 jobs.

“These aren’t numbers, they are people with families who perform critical work,” Menino said in a press release. “That’s why I’m doing everything I can – from pursuing more reforms to maximizing Recovery grant dollars, to fighting for the ability to diversify our revenues – to save these jobs.

The budget closes a $140 million deficit and focuses on Menino’s priorities in investing in youth, strengthening neighborhoods and growing the local economy. The deficit came from a steep decline in almost all projected tax revenue categories, including a $62.2 million decrease in state aid, as well as increases in expenses, including $55 million for wage and STEP increases for city employees.

The gap would have resulted in as many as 1,000 city job layoffs, but officials were able to take some steps to reduce that number. Measures taken include:

  • Early Action: In October of 2008, the City of Boston ground hiring to a virtual halt for the remainder of the 2009 fiscal year and canceled three public safety recruit classes – two fire and one police – saving nearly $18 million.
  • Reform and Cost Cutting: The city renegotiated a number of its largest contracts – including health insurance, street sweeping and recycling – and improved energy efficiency by changing vehicle and transportation policies, collectively saving $18 million.
  • American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Investment: The city allocated $20 million in federal funds appropriated through the ARRA, saving 250 positions. This funding includes $16 million for the Boston Public Schools through Title 1 and IDEA and nearly $4 million for the Boston Police Department through the Byrne Grant.
  • Prudent Use of Reserves: The city appropriated nearly one-third, or $40 million, of its certified $121 million in spendable reserves to help close the budget gap. Given the highly-unstable global economy, the remaining two-thirds will be reserved for future budgets.
  • Wage Freeze: 22 unions agreed to a one-year wage delay. When combined with the one-year wage delay for non-unionized employees and the wage cuts for the city’s senior staff, this action saved the city more than $8.7 million and preserved 196 jobs.
  • “To preserve our gains and make new strides we had to make tough decisions,” Menino said in a press release. “We had to cut in some areas so we can continue to invest in our priorities – the frontline services that you value most. We will not only be able to provide these services in the present but also continue to build a strong foundation for the future.”

    The $2.4 billion budget is a $5 million increase from the previous fiscal year. Boston Public Schools will see a decrease of 1.9 percent and lose 364 jobs. The Boston Police Department will see a 2.4 percent decrease and lose 123 jobs, while the fire department will see a 4.7 percent decrease.