Boston Ends FY15 with a $7.4M Surplus
Revenues $44.8M over budget, spending exceeded appropriations by $37.5M
The City of Boston ended FY15 with a $7.4M General Fund operating surplus, slightly smaller than the $9.5M surplus in FY14. The surplus is due to the fact that actual receipts exceeded budgeted revenues by $44.8M or 1.6%, which was greater than the $37.5M that actual spending exceeded final appropriations. The General Fund surplus represents 0.27% of city spending of $2.77B.
The $37.5M in spending over appropriations is driven by three main factors. Snow removal costs were expected to greatly exceed the budget, but federal reimbursements helped limit the General Fund spending to $19.9M over its appropriation.
Police and Fire Department overtime costs contributed to a combined departmental deficit of $24.2M. Police overtime spending as a percent of total departmental spending has grown each year since FY10 and requires greater scrutiny. Court judgments and legal claims paid by the City exceeded its budget by $6.2M in FY15.
The City’s prudent practice of conservatively estimating its revenues once again produced a revenue surplus at year end. Actual receipts of $2.780B in FY15 were $44.8M over budget estimates. The excise surplus of $25.6M included room occupancy ($15.0M), motor vehicle ($11.1M) and meals ($2.9M) and shortfalls in aircraft fuel (-$2.3M) and other small accounts. Building permit receipts were $23.7M or 84.8% over budget. State aid was $5.1M less than expected due mainly to the state only funding the charter tuition reimbursement at 63.5% of its full obligation.
For the fifth year in a row, the revenue surplus allowed the City to forego using non-recurring revenues budgeted for operations. The City was able to use recurring revenues instead of non-recurring revenues totaling $40.8M, which included the full $40M free cash appropriation and cemetery trust fund receipts of $772,800. Unlike last year, the City did take into receipt the entire $19M that was budgeted from the parking meter fund.