FAQs

What is the Budget Procedure?

Preparation of the City of Cambridge Annual Budget is governed by Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 44. The Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) budget cycle commenced in December, 2012. At that time Budget staff met with the City Manager and Finance Director to update the City's 5-year financial projections and establish general budgetary guidelines and limitations for the upcoming year. On December 5, 2012 the City Manager convened the annual budget meeting attended by all department heads and finance personnel. At this meeting the City Manager gave a general overview of the state of the economy, discussed the budget format and outlined specific guidelines for the preparation of departmental budgets.

The following guidelines for budget preparation were issued: Cost of Living Adjustments (COLA), pensions and health insurance increase as required; the citywide goal is to submit a budget that supports City Council priorities without increasing the number of city employees; all non-personnel operating items known to be increasing due to contractual terms, must be absorbed within the budget and not knowingly under-budgeted; budgets are to be level funded with no increases in other ordinary maintenance or travel accounts; major contracts for services must be reviewed to ensure that departments have sufficient funds to meet contractual needs; and extraordinary expenditures must be revised and one-time items from the current fiscal year eliminated.

Departments should expect that reductions can be made during the review process, either at the administrative or City Council levels. Requests for new or expanded services should be submitted separately, outside the base budget, through a supplemental request memorandum.

The Budget and City Manager's staff subsequently met with each department head to review the budget format and assist with the development and refinement of goals and performance measures. The current budget format contains narratives, goals and performance measures for each city department enabling the City Manager, City Council, and citizens to better understand city services. Goals are and performance measures quantifiable and concise with calculations of services selected unit costs where applicable. During the budget process goals measures may be and eliminated, changed, or expanded as necessary making them more comprehensive, significant or illustrative of the services and programs provided by city departments.

By January 11, 2013 operating budgets, expenditure and revenue estimates, significant departmental accomplishments, and projections for the current fiscal year were submitted to the City Manager. From late-January to late March, each department made a presentation to the City Manager justifying proposed budget increases, decreases and program changes. The City Manager also reviewed goals and performance measures. Specific requests were negotiated during these sessions and appropriate revisions were made to the submitted budgets. It is important to note that at this stage of the process, the City Manager may increase or decrease budgets based on the priorities of the city council and the administration.

During March and early April, Budget and City Manager staff finalized the annual budget document for submission to the city council. State law mandates Budget submission to the City Council within 170 days of the council convening in early January. The City Manager submitted the FY14 budget to the city council on April 22, 2013. From April 30 – May 16, 2013 the city council held a series of public hearings to solicit citizen participation regarding departmental budget requests. The council has the jurisdiction to make reductions, but cannot increase the proposed budget without the consent of the City Manager. Following submission of the Budget, the city council has 45 days in which to act (June 6). The adoption date for the FY14 budget was May 20, 2013. The FY14 Annual Budget for the City of Cambridge becomes effective July 1, 2013.

What is the City's bond rating?

The major financial rating agencies in the country (Moody's, Standard and Poor's and Fitch Ratings) have concluded that the city's finances are in the top tier of communities throughout the United States. This AAA rating from all three agencies is a significant accomplishment for the City and it reflects a great deal of hard work and discipline on the part of the Administration, the City Council and the Finance Department. In their latest rating, Standard and Poor’s affirmed its Financial management Assessment (FMA) of the City of “strong.” An FMA of “strong” indicates that practices are strong, well embedded and likely sustainable.

What is the total city operating budget for fiscal year 2014?

The fiscal year runs from July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014.

The total City Budget for FY14: $507,186,335 

What is the number of full-time city employees?

Total number of full-time employees (excludes school department): 1,437

What are the operating budgets by department for FY14?

Department Budgeted Amount
Animal Commission  $309,700
Cable TV $1,474,795
Cambridge Health Alliance $6,500,000
Cherry Sheet Assessments  $20,126,950
City Clerk  $1,119,765
City Council $1,683,125
Community Development $5,676,340
Conservation $123,470
Debt Service $49,716,250
Election $1,013,565
Electrical $2,840,910
Emergency Communications $4,434,425
Employee Benefits $32,787,200
Executive $2,008,150
Finance Department
      Administration $595,905
      Budget $573,025
      Personnel $1,879,500
      Assessors $2,297,680
      Purchasing $777,310
      Auditing $906,890
      Revenue $1,086,140
      Treasury $684,570
      Information Technology $4,491,330
      Total: $13,292,350
Fire Department $43,350,275
General Services
      Telephone $301,820
      Mailing $251,345
      Printing $179,530
      Total: $732,695
Historical $632,940
Human Rights Commission $249,380
Human Services $23,155,080
Inspectional Services $3,180,045
Law Department $2,163,240
Library $8,946,395
License $1,030,970
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority $21,346,815
Office of the Mayor $558,785
Peace Commission $143,940
Police Department $47,186,015
Police Review & Advisory Board $73,440
Public Celebrations
       Cambridge Arts Council $558,315
       Holiday Celebrations $55,750
       Multicultural Arts Center $200,000
       City Inaugural Events $17,880
       Community Events $60,000
       Total: $891,945
Public Works $32,859,690
Reserve $37,500
Schools $150,989,445
Traffic, Parking & Transportation $10,935,015
Veterans' Affairs $1,005,375
Water Department $14,238,700
Weights & Measures $138,540
Women's Commission $233,115

What are the major funding sources for the FY14 operating budget?

Revenue Source Amount
Taxes $363,556,815
Licenses & Permits $9,668,400
Fines & Forfeits $9,514,555
Charges for Services $71,776,820
Intergovernmental $40,184,740
Miscellaneous $12,485,005

What is the total Public Investment budget for FY14?

The total City Public Investment budget for FY14: $92,715,930

What is the Public Investment Budget by project for FY14

Appropriations/Projects Budgeted Amount
Acquisition of Personal Computers $90,000
Technology Upgrades/Enhancements $35,000
School Equipment/Renovations $450,000
Fire Station Renovations $25,000
Replacement of Street Lights/Poles $35,000
Public Building Renovations $361,000
Energy/Transportation Improvements $651,510
Street/Sidewalk Reconstruction $4,747,490
Parking Improvements $500,000
Water System Improvements $3,400,000
Sewer Reconstruction $77,801,000
Traffic Calming $300,000
Cambridge Common Enhancement Project $2,150,000
Facade improvement Program $100,000
Employment Program Fund $337,250
Housing Rehab & Development $657,350
Neighborhood Business Development $72,000
Parks and Recreation $142,000
Accessibility Improvements $50,000
Park and Cemetery Tree Pruning $100,000
Public Art Conservation $20,000
Bike Rack Program $50,000
Kendall Square Surface Improvements $500,000
Cable Equipment $141,330

 

What are the major funding sources for the FY14 Public Investment Budget?

Revenue Source Amount
Property Taxes $1,400,000
Parking Fund $850,000
Parking Fund Balance $850,000
Sewer Service Charge $1,000,000
Water Service Charge $3,400,000
Block Grant $1,066,600
Chapter 90 $2,538,710
MWRA Grant $22,100,000
MWRA Grant  Interest $43,000
Resident Stickers $425,000
Brick Sidewalk Revenues $72,835
Street Preservation Offset Fund $185,945
Bond Proceeds $58,308,000
War Memorial Recreation Center Fees $28,000
Golf Course Fees $80,000
NSTAR Reimbursement $226,510
Cable License Fees $141,330

Department Information

Hours of Service

Monday: 8:30am-8pm
Tuesday-Thursday: 8:30am-5pm
Friday: 8:30am-12pm

Department Director:
Jeana Franconi
jfranconi@cambridgema.gov