City Manager Robert W. Healy presented the City Council last night with a $235.8 million budget proposal for Cambridge.
A 6.9 percent increase over the revised budget for this fiscal year, the proposal states that the city faces a "substantial increase in the tax levy" for fiscal 1990 to cope with expected cuts in state aid to local government.
Although Cambridge's tax needs have not yet reached the statemandated levy limit, the city is approaching its cap. The city estimates a levy of about $109 million of the permitted $113.5 million for this year, leaving only a $4 million margin. For fiscal 1989, the margin was nearly $13 million.
In the plan, Healy warns that although the city is in "strong shape fiscally" now, it may face severe restraints soon, as well as cuts in programs and services. "The boom years of the 1980s have come to an end, and while our economy remains strong, it will not grow at the rate of recent years," Healy wrote.
The budget, and the $101.3 million proposed five-year capital plan, continues efforts to repave streets, renovate parks and improve public safety, but these projects could be jeopardized if the financial situation worsens, Healy wrote. He called on the city to work with the state to find revenue for local aid, possibly by authorizing new types of local taxes or changes to Proposition 2-1/2, which in 1980 set the cap on local tax levies at 2.5 percent.
"In lieu of tax payments," made to the city by those holding non-taxable land, will provide $1.5 million in revenue, down from $3.02 million in the fiscal 1989 revised budget. More than one-half the land in Cambridge, most of it belonging to Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is non-taxable.
Healy's proposal allocates $9.8 million for general government, about $39 million for public safety and about $65 million for the public schools.
Cambridge city hospital will hire 39 people to staff its in-patient peditatric psychiatric unit, but according to the proposal, those appointments should be self-sustaining.
The hospital is expected to suffer an added $3.4 million to its deficit because the state has not reimbursed it for Medicaid and Medicare programs. Already, the state owes the hospital $1.7 million for uncompensated care for FY 1989.
The plan also discusses the progress and goals of city agencies during 1988. Crime statistics show that last year, reports of most types of violent crime dropped, although the number of reported assaults increased by nearly 10 percent. Six fewer forcible rapes were reported last year, a 16.7 percent decrease over the 1987 figure of 30. The number of murders increased from two to seven, the plan states.
The council also passed an order calling on city officials to meet with Harvard and MIT to obtain the use of a soccer field for Cambridge youth soccer this spring.
Councillor Sheila T. Russell also sponsored a resolution to ask the city manager to find out whether laws against jay-walking are being enforced.