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City Council Approves Nearly $1 Billion City Budget, but Cautions Against Further Growth

By Julian J. Giordano
By Avani B. Rai, Crimson Staff Writer

The Cambridge City Council unanimously passed a nearly $1 billion operating budget and $74 million capital budget for the 2025 fiscal year without major modifications during a meeting Monday evening.

The upcoming year’s budget of $955 million marks an 8.1 percent increase from 2024, a difference of more than $70 million. However, the capital budget decreased by more than $110 million, a decrease of approximately 60 percent.

The appropriations include $268 million for education — an increase of $23 million that represents the most significant budget modification from the previous fiscal year — and $73 million towards the city’s climate and sustainability initiatives, including net zero carbon emissions and climate resilience projects. The budget’s single largest line item is $41 million for Cambridge’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which funds affordable development across the city.

While the proposed budget was passed without any amendments, City Councilor Patty M. Nolan ’80, who co-chairs the Finance Committee, called the city’s operating budget growth “somewhat scary.”

“Even us, with our conservative planning, have found that we’re stretching ourselves to a limit that in the next couple of years we simply cannot sustain,” Nolan said.

Nolan’s fellow co-chair Councilor Joan F. Pickett echoed Nolan’s sentiments, cautioning against the tax increases needed to sustain the current growth of the city budget: “8 and 9 percent increases in the budget, which translate into tax increases for our residents and our businesses, becomes really hard for them to sustain over time.”

“In order for us to really look at the taxes and the tax rate, it means we have to moderate our spending,” she added.

The budget process, which included three public Finance Committee hearings after its initial proposal, follows years of complaints from the Council that it was shut out of the budget process, which is supervised by the Cambridge city manager. The relationship has substantially improved under City Manager Yi-An Huang ’05, who was appointed in 2022, with many Council members praising the collaborative nature of this year’s budget process.

However, Nolan said, greater transparency in regards to the public around the approval process was still necessary.

“Get anyone looking at our regular business agenda — if they didn’t know to look at the part of the agenda that happens to be the committee reports they might have no clue that we’re about to vote a billion dollars worth of budget tonight,” Nolan said.

—Staff writer Avani B. Rai can be reached at Follow her on X @avaniiiirai.

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