Research Bureau Opposes Change to Budget Responsibility of the Mayor

Research Bureau Opposes Amendment to the City Charter to Change the Budgetary Powers in Boston

August 6, 2020 – The Research Bureau testified before the Boston City Council’s Committee on Government Operations in opposition to an amendment to the City Charter that would change the process for creating and approving the operating and capital budgets in the City of Boston.  The proposed change in the budget process, in an attempt to give equal budget authority to the Council and Mayor, will not be in the best interest of the City as a whole and will bring uncertainty to the City’s fiscal future.

Promoting the City of Boston’s financial health is a priority of the Research Bureau and the budget process is an important part of maintaining the City’s fiscal stability. The City of Boston is a $6.61 billion municipal corporation, with a budget process that continually develops during the course of a fiscal year with ample opportunity for the City Council to shape the priorities of the City.

The Research Bureau has three main areas of concern:

  • Legal Issues – This amendment is a major change to the fundamental structure of Boston’s government.  It completely changes the budget process, approval and authority of the Mayor and School Committee – this is not a minor amendment but a major revision and would require at least a Home Rule Petition.
  • Fiscal Uncertainty – Competing powers and lack of accountability would lead to fiscal uncertainty and instability in Boston that the City cannot afford.
  • Limited Capacity of the City Council – At $6.61 billion, the budget process is complex and involves hundreds of employees, financial experts and the financial teams throughout the City. The City Council structure and central staff is not prepared to complete this type of analysis and evaluation.

Read the full testimony here.

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