Metro, Politics

Fuller Announces 5.1 Percent Budget Increase for FY25

Newton Mayor Ruthanne Fuller presented a budget that will increase by 5.1 percent from last year with increased investment in Newton Public Schools (NPS) and capital improvement projects, during her FY25 budget address on Monday.

“Tonight, I present to you a stable, strong, sustainable, and hefty budget for the city of Newton’s next fiscal year,” Fuller said. 

According to Fuller, the budget increase is supplemented by the city’s projected $25.7 million revenue increase and the city’s strong cost management strategies.

“Newton’s tax base is strong and stable,” Fuller said. “While our village centers do have some empty storefronts and our office buildings do have some vacancies, we are not facing significant potential lost tax revenue like our neighbor, Boston.”

Fuller also announced a 5.2 percent increase in funding for NPS, which she said will allow the schools to include more teachers, form smaller classes, and increase mental health services. 

“For the Newton public schools, the addition of $14 million over last year’s budget will immediately be felt by our students,” Fuller said.

The school funding also includes the new NPS Education Stabilization Fund, which allocates $22 million in one-time free funding into an ongoing support fund for the school budget over the next five years. Of those funds, $4.1 million is allocated for the FY25 budget.

Fuller also emphasized the city’s investment in capital improvement projects, which include the renovation of three NPS elementary schools, the construction of the new senior center, and the renovation of the Gath Memorial Pool.

“We have increased debt service by 5.1 percent so that many important capital projects can move forward,” Fuller said. “This is in line with our financial management guidelines and our long-term financial forecast.”

Despite her optimism, Fuller addressed financial challenges in the budget, given national economic conditions and the city’s increased spending, some of which relies on one-time funding.

“At the moment, the rise in inflation is moderating a bit but we’re getting some mixed signals from the [Federal Reserve] about when interest rates might start declining,” Fuller said. “We expect to still see staffing shortages accompanying the low unemployment rates that we’re experiencing.”

Fuller also spotlighted the work of the soon-to-retire Health and Human Services Commissioner Linda Walsh, who has worked for the city for 37 years.

“With her long experience and deep understanding of the science behind public health she helped lead us through the pandemic,” Fuller said. “Her wisdom and heart helped ease our community’s pain during times of great tragedy.”

At the end of her address, Fuller expressed confidence in the city’s services for the upcoming year. 

“I am filled with hope and confidence,” Fuller said. “Our community is overflowing with people who willingly give of their time and talents to help each other and give back.”

April 16, 2024