External Funds Critical for Boston

Earmarked funds are key to programs and service delivery

The stability of external funding in FY21 will be critical for many city departments as Boston confronts historic uncertainty in the revenue outlook for FY21 and beyond. This will be especially true for larger departments which are heavily reliant on federal grants to support their operations.

The City expects external funding to total $488.7M in FY21, an increase of $82.1M or 20.2% from FY20. FY21 external funds, which come from a combination of federal, state and private sources and are earmarked for specific purposes, supplement the operating budget for 25 city departments and agencies. For FY21, nine of those agencies make up 93.8% of external funds. BPS alone is projected to account for $148.7M or 30.4% of all external funds. Traditionally, just eight of those agencies make up over 90%. With the influx of FEMA and CARES funding, however, the Office of Budget Management (OBM), as the pass through for COVID-19 relief funding, makes up an outsized portion of the total. Without the CARES-FEMA money included, the city expects a $300,000 decrease from FY20-FY21.

FY21 External Funds by Department ($M)
Department FY20 Est FY21 Est Var. %
BPS $157.3 $148.7 $(8.6) -5.5%
OBM* 24.2 106.6 82.4 340.6
DND 87.2 87.8 0.65 0.75%
BPHC 43.8 45.8 2.1 4.8%
Treasury** 25.5 26.3 0.79 3.1%
Emergency Mgmt. 12.9 16.7 3.8 29.7%
BPD 10.1 9.1 (1) -10%
BPL 9.4 9.8 0.43 4.5%
Age Strong 6.7 7.6 0.93 13.9%
Other 29.6 30.2 0.59 2%
Total $406.6 $488.7 $82.1 20.2%
Excluding COVID Funds $382.4 $382.1 $(0.3) -0.08%
*OBM is a pass through for federal COVID-19 funding

** Reflects CPA funds

Schools – The BPS receives external funds from over 100 different grants and programs. In FY21, the majority of BPS’s external funding (73.7%) is expected to come from four sources: federal support for districts with high concentration of low-income students (Title I), the Federal School Lunch program, and federal and state special education support. Special education and the school lunch program are expected to remain level from FY20 to FY21. Title I funds, which provide financial assistance to districts with high numbers of low-income families, are projected to decrease 12.1% from $44.8M to $39.4M. Though this is still a 15.9% increase from FY19.  In addition to the four areas, the BPS expects a doubling of funds through the Technology Fund, from $1M to $2M, and an additional $2.3M for the BPS Quality Pre-K Grant, a 90.9% increase.

Other Significant Changes – Emergency Management saw the largest budgeted increase in funding (29.7%), from $12.9M in FY20 to $16.7M in FY21. Part of the increase is due to an expected additional $677,455 from the Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grant Program (RCPGP). The largest increase is expected to come from Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) federal grant funds, a 24.4% or $3.1M increase.  UASI provides funds equipment, planning, exercise, training and operational needs of first responder agencies to prevent, protect against, respond to and recover from terrorist threats in Boston.

The Boston Police Department’s external funds are expected to decrease 10.0% or $1M from FY20 to FY21. The Department expects fluctuations in external funding across the board, however, the single largest change in funding will come from a discontinuation of the National Crime Statistics Exchange (NCS-X) Implementation Assistance Program this year.

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