Boston Budget Would Increase Spending $59M, Cut 30 Jobs

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Boston Mayor Thomas Menino on Wednesday sent his budget proposal to the City Council. The $2.4 billion proposal would increase spending by about $59 million, a 2.5 percent increase over current levels.

Menino says it's a tight budget, as many programs would be level-funded.

"Well it's always a sacrifice," Boston's mayor said. "No expansion of programs, that's one thing. And we're still battling to put 10,000 kids to work this summer."

"There's not a lot of extra room when you have little increases of 2.5 percent, which is I think is best as you can expect in this economy at this time," said Sam Tyler, director of the Boston Municipal Research Bureau.

Menino's proposal calls for eliminating 30 city jobs, but the mayor said what might be an even tougher sell is his proposal to consolidate schools and community centers.

"People don't want to face the fact there is duplication in government, and we have to try to eliminate duplication as best we can," Menino said.

"It really is forcing the city to find ways to streamline, consolidate and be more efficient," Tyler said.

Still, Tyler says the budget appears to be coming back to normal after two years of deep cuts.

"All in all, I think it's a budget that shows improvement over the past couple years," he said. "It's still very tight, but I don't think basic services will be negatively impacted."

State aid is Boston's second largest revenue source, and is expected to decline by more than $37 million from last year's budget, according to the Menino administration. This decline is nothing new — Massachusetts aid to Boston has been on the decline consistently for the last decade.

Employee health care continues to be one of the biggest expenses for Boston and municipalities across the state. Boston will spend 13 percent of its total budget on employee health premiums. Menino says those expenses have risen 142 percent over the last decade.

This program aired on April 13, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.