Boston Mayor Thomas Menino presented his last fiscal year budget - of $2.6 billion - with laughs, joking about the mayoral race with candidates and potential candidates in the room.
Before getting to the details, a mock movie was played to a full room that included the Boston City Council, department heads, Superintendent Carol Johnson, as well as Police Commissioner Ed Davis. Laughs filled the Eagle Room at City Hall as the film played: "From the producer of the Fiscal Year 1994 Budget, and the Fiscal Year 1995 Budget..." all the way up to Fiscal Year 2014 - "...coming July 1."
Menino, who sat in a chair the whole time, referred to the proposed FY 2014 budget as "prudent" and said it increased 5.6 percent from fiscal year 2013. The majority of proposed revenue – 66 percent – comes from property taxes, with state aid at 16 percent. The proposed budget included a projected decrease of $16.1 million in state aid.
Health insurance costs total 11 percent, or $287 million, of the proposed budget expenditures, to pay for insurance to city employees and their families.
John McDonough, chief financial officer of Boston Public Schools, said the school system has a proposed $934.6 million budget, which is 7 percent ($60.8 million) higher than this year's budget.
During the meeting, Menino also joked with mayoral candidates Felix Arroyo, Rob Consalvo, as well as rumored candidates Stephen Murphy and Michael Ross, about their intentions.
When Ross left the end of the meeting early, Menino asked, "You running to a press conference?"
Not to be lost in the normally dry atmosphere of budget proposals was the proposed 5-year $1.8 billion capital plan including 341 projects.
The capital plan includes a new park for children with physical disabilities in the Charlestown Navy Yard. Also recreational updates to the West Roxbury High School, Billings Playground and Draper Pool in West Roxbury, Flaherty Pool in Roslindale, and continued development of Dudley Square.
Construction will begin on the Copley Public Library this year on the Johnson Building. This project will open the main floor to Boylston Street, improve and expand the Children’s Room, and upgrade a lecture hall.
"No budget's perfect..." said Menino. "You only have so much money. If a budget works, a city works... One-time revenues need to be made up next year."
Before ending the meeting, Menino complimented City Councilor Mark Ciommo, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, as well as the entire Boston City Council, for being "prudent" as well as the "budget folks, who don't get their credit."