Photo of the Participatory Budgeting booth

The primary responsibility of the Budget Department is to prepare the annual operating and capital budgets for submission by the City Manager to the City Council as required by Chapter 44 of the Massachusetts General Laws. In order to produce a fiscally sound budget for an upcoming fiscal year, it is necessary to consistently monitor and analyze the activities of the current fiscal year as well as those of prior fiscal years to detect trends in both revenue and expenditure categories which may have an impact on future budgets.

The Budget Department is also involved in the preparation of official statements and other related documents for bond sales, calculation of the tax rate, grant reconciliations, CPA analyses, maintaining the computerized benchmark system, preparation of financial statements, which are the basis for the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), and the preparation of appropriation and transfer recommendations. The above-mentioned documents have a direct impact on the City's budget and it is essential that they be prepared in a timely and efficient manner. Office staff continually work with each department and members of the public providing financial information and advice.

Tips and FAQs

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 as “strong.” An FMA of “strong” indicates that practices are strong, well embedded, and likely sustainable.

Cambridge Minibonds

In February 2017, for the first time, the City offered Cambridge residents the chance to directly invest in Cambridge infrastructure by buying minibonds. A minibond is like a traditional municipal bond in which individuals loan money to a city or public agency for an agreed period of time, receive interest on their investment, and get their loan paid back when the bonds mature. 

Cambridge minibonds are different than traditional municipal bonds because residents can purchase minibonds for as little as $1,000 (instead of $5,000) and they mature in 5 years (instead of 10-20 years). During the City’s first minibond sale in February 2017, $2 million in minibonds sold out. The City will use minibond proceeds to support capital projects such as school building renovations, municipal facility upgrades, and implementation of the Complete Streets plan. 

To learn more about Cambridge minibonds, please visit minibonds.cambridgema.gov

Participatory Budgeting

Participatory Budgeting is a democratic process through which community members directly decide how to spend part of a public budget. 

During the 2016 PB cycle, 4,730 Cambridge residents age 12 and older voted to spend $706,000 in FY18 capital funding on seven winning projects, including:

  1. Solar Power Shines! ($260,000)
  2. Safer Crosswalks for Busy Roads ($104,000)
  3. 10 Solar-Powered Real-Time Bus Tracker Displays ($150,000)
  4. Kinetic Energy Tiles ($50,000)
  5. Hydration Stations in Four Locations ($37,000)
  6. Upgrade the Moore Youth Center ($80,000)
  7. Cambridge Street Art Trail ($25,000)

Want to submit an idea or get involved?  Check out our Participatory Budgeting website.

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