Brendan Fitzpatrick

May 7, 2024

Finance Subcommittee Begins FY25 Budget Review

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FRAMINGHAM - The Framingham City Council’s Finance Subcommittee began their review of the general and enterprise fund budgets for the 2025 fiscal year during a meeting at the Memorial Building on Saturday, May 4.

The current recommended budget for FY25 is $359,040,477, which represents a roughly $15 million raise—or 4.4%—compared to FY24. Acting Chief Financial Officer Jennifer Pratt’s memo to Mayor Charlie Sisitsky and Chief Operating Officer Michael Tusino explains that the proposed budget projects a 2.5% property tax levy, which would increase revenue by $5.3 million compared to the previous year.

The Finance Subcommittee is tasked with diving into the budget over the next few weeks prior to a full vote from the City Council in June.

The subcommittee first heard from Executive Director of Finance and Operations for Framingham Public Schools (FPS) Lincoln Lynch on Saturday, as a review of the district’s $172.6 million recommended budget was initiated. The figure, which is 4.74% higher than the FY24 budget for local schools, includes close to $86 million in state funding.

Lynch reiterated FPS’ goal to reduce any further deductions to staffing after $1.1 million were slashed from the school budget due to staffing cuts within the district’s Central Office. He added that the decision to level funding for most departments—or offer them the same money they got in FY24—could hinder plans on what FPS wants to accomplish across the board.

Questions brought up by Finance Subcommittee members related to matters such as increasing safety within local schools, solidifying future transportation plans amid the ongoing bus driver shortage, potentially offering universal pre-K programs for families, and boosting overall academic achievement.

The recommended budget for the Framingham Police Department is $19,724,434. That’s 1.31% higher—$254,786—than last year’s allotment of $19,469,648.

Police Chief Lester Baker told the subcommittee that part of the increased budget is an initiative to provide each officer with a cell phone for translation purposes, among other tools to increase communication within the force and between the public.

“More than 50% of the calls that we go on, the officers are not able to communicate with the people they’re speaking to,” Baker said.

“An officer is not going to use their personal cell phone for something that may become discovery in a court proceeding later.”

Baker added that body worn camera installations have been completed, as he expects a pilot program to start in June with some officers. The chief explained that those cameras will automatically turn on for all nearby officers when tasers or firearms are pulled.

Baker also told the Finance Subcommittee about his intention to begin a conversation in the future about expanding the police department.

Meanwhile, the Framingham Fire Department’s recommended budget sits at $17,781,143, with 94% of the money dedicated to personnel and the rest earmarked for equipment and facilities. Fire Chief Michael Dutcher told the subcommittee that the FY25 personnel costs adds 6.5% onto that same cost from FY24.

Finally, Director of Public Works Bob Lewis provided details on the recommended public works budget.

The Department of Public Works (DPW) was the one branch during Saturday’s meeting that featured a decline compared to last year, as their 13,876,133 recommended budget is 1.1% less—or $153,753—than their FY24 allotment.

The biggest monetary drop was in highways, as there is $195,692 less recommended for the upcoming year on that front. Still, Lewis expressed confidence that even with a more lean budget, the DPW would still be able to keep up with local roadway maintenance.

“We will continue to just move along,” Lewis told the Finance Subcommittee.

“It’ll be a slower pace; I have to adjust my estimations of completion times, because things are going to be a little bit slower. They’re going to take a little bit longer to do. We’ll stretch that money as far as we can.”

Lewis added that his department is planning on paving half of Brook Street within the next year.

The topic of reporting issues such as potholes was mentioned during the meeting on Saturday, as Lewis said the online SeeClickFix tool—a service that is designed to be used for multiple municipal departments—has been “challenging.” He explained that the most reliable way to fix those non-emergency issues is to call or email the DPW, though Finance Subcommittee members aired their desire to have as many options available to residents as possible.

No votes to finalize aspects of the FY25 budget were taken by the Finance Subcommittee on Saturday, with these topics slated to be revisited at a later date. The group's next meetings are scheduled for Wednesday, May 8 and Thursday, May 9. Both of those meetings will begin at 6 p.m. at the Memorial Building.

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