Budgets in other cities
Here’s a look at the top four other major cities’ budgets:
Keep in mind, different cities list and describe expenses in different ways. That being said, personnel costs, or employee salaries and benefits, is typically the largest functional expense like it was for Chicago in FY2019.
New York City
Compromise, what? Mayor Bill de Blasio and the New York City Council actually agreed on a balanced FY2020 budget two weeks prior to the June 30 deadline. The $92.8 billion budget is the third largest in the U.S. of any city or state, behind only California and New York State. The revenue and spending in FY19 was also balanced; the city ended the fiscal year with “personal services” being the largest chunk of expenses at $49.3 billion of the $93.4 billion total. Personal services are wages, fringe benefits, and pension costs. The expense plan put forth by de Blasio in June projects FY20 costs of these services to reach $51.3 billion.
When looking at the executive budget proposed by de Blasio earlier this year, there was a reported shortfall for city education, though this was addressed in reconciliation with the City Council. The exec. budget savings target was $750 million, which was surpassed by $166 million.
But looking at the expense budget by agency, the Department of Education has the largest budget for FY20 by far with $27.2 billion. This is twice as much as the next two agencies expenses: Social Services with $10.3 billion and “miscellaneous” with $13.5 billion. Though not as substantial, large chunks of the expense budget are spent for other agencies, such as $9.9 billion for pensions, $5.6 billion for the police department, and $3.2 billion in debt service.
Mayor Eric Garcetti’s proposed budget for FY20 totals $10.7 billion, and it’s balanced. The single largest expense is under “Tax and Revenue Anticipation Notes Debt Service Fund”, which is a combination of pensions, retirement and debt flow. This totals $1.3 billion and makes up 12.6% of the overall expense budget.
Following this is “field forces”, or police, which totals $871.4 million, most of which is from salaries ($759.2 million). When considering agency expenses, the LAPD is the largest with $1.73 billion in appropriations. The big takeaways touted by Garcetti are spending on addressing homelessness ($457.8 million), expanding police overtime by 40 percent, and reaching a Reserve Fund of $399 million, the first time the city has 8 percent of reserves since the Great Recession.
Philly’s 2020 budget will include a $5 billion spending plan, an increase of $300 million from last year’s. During budget negotiations between Mayor Jim Kenney and the City Council, both sides focused on this budget’s role in reducing poverty, as Philly has the highest rate of all major metros in the U.S. Find the council-approved budget here.
A deficit of $107.3 million remains between revenue and expenses, with the largest expenses for this budget being employee wages at $1.8 billion and benefits at $1.4 billion, $584.7 million from pensions. The Police Department was the largest agency behind the pension fund in expenses, with $741.2 million.
As a side note: Pew and the Inquirer found that, when compared to other major metros (including Chicago), Philly is in good shape to have pensions fully funded by 2035 at the latest. As of 2017, the fund was at 47% and was likely to remain in good shape even if the economy turns; the Philadelphia Tribune reported the pension system sits at 53% currently.
Boston passed a $3.49 billion operating budget in June; this is a balanced budget. The largest expenditure is $1.8 billion in personnel services, which includes salaries, benefits, pensions, etc. The city reports that 40% of the budget is for education programming: $1.2 billion for Boston Public Schools and $215 million for charter schools.
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