Cambridge City Manager Unveils $600 Million Budget Proposal

The Cambridge City Manager unveiled a roughly $600 million budget proposal for fiscal year 2018 that will expand funding for supporting undocumented Cambridge residents among other initiatives, at the City Council’s meeting Monday night.

The budget, which is the first City Manager Louis A. DePasquale has proposed, increases spending in a number of areas.

“Here are some highlights: the FY18 operating budget is $605 million, which is a 4.97 percent increase over the 2017,” Vice Mayor Marc C. McGovern said. “Included in the budget is a 2.5 percent Cost of Living increase for employees [and] a 5.8 percent increase in pensions [for employees].”

DePasquale said he aimed to involve the City Council early on in the budget crafting process.

“One of the things I heard going through the City Manager’s process was ‘get the city council involved early.’” DePasquale said. “I think we’ve done a really good job in reflecting what we feel the priorities of the City Council are.”

Later at the City Council meeting Monday, Councillors discussed an ordinance proposal to make it easier for City departments to request funds for surveillance technology. Cambridge residents at the meeting criticized the proposal, with some raising concerns about mass-surveillance on the part of the City government.

Responding to the concerns, DePasquale said that the ordinance was a preliminary suggestion and that Councillors needed to work on it more with and the ordinance committee. He said the public would have plenty of opportunities to influence the legislation.

“We want to get to the same place” DePasquale said. “We just want to get to a place that’s workable for all of us.”

Also discussed was a proposal allowing MIT researchers to install test sensors along Massachusetts Ave. for the purpose of “observing the behavior of pedestrians, cyclist, and drivers...reporting on parking occupancy/availability, and measuring air quality.”

Councillors were split over the decision to support the test. Councillors Nadeem A. Mazen and Jan Devereux spoke out in support of the sensors as a state of the art way to improve the city with the help of a local entity; McGovern and City Councillor Craig A. Kelley said that Councillors were not provided information on the sensors in a timely matter and that process needed to be established.

At the meeting, Councillors allocated more than $5 million in funding for various fire deparment accounts and improvements at Cambridge firehouses. They also also appropriated more than $4 million in grant money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to various city human services funds, including funds designed to provide housing for homeless and vulnerable populations in Cambridge.

—Staff writer Nicholas W. Sundberg can be reached at nicholas.sundberg@thecrimson.com Follow him on Twitter @NickWSundberg

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