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Worcester City Manager Proposes $893 Million FY 2025 Budget

By Tom Marino | May 6, 2024
Last Updated: May 7, 2024
Worcester City Hall in Worcester, MA, during the day.

WORCESTER – City Manager Eric Batista released his budget proposal for the fiscal year 2025, which begins on July 1. The $893,002,939 total budget is a three percent increase over the final fiscal year 2024 budget.

Batista’s proposal projects revenue of $396.2 million (4.7 percent increase) in property taxes, $52.8 million (3 percent increase) in state aid, $387.2 million in education aid (5.4 percent increase) and $56.7 million (7.3 percent increase) in local receipts.

The property tax increase includes a $10.1 million increase, consistent with Proposition Two and a Half, and $7.5 million in new growth.

In expenditures, the budget projects $533 million (5.3 percent increase) spending on public schools, $165 million (5.4 percent decrease) in fixed costs, $113 million (3.6 percent increase) in public safety, $23.7 million (0.7 percent increase) in DPW and Parks, and $58.3 million (7.5 percent increase) in all other city operations.


State education aid is expected to increase $19.8 million (5 percent increase) to $387.2 million. That includes a $263,506 (3 percent) increase to state aid for charter schools.

While the total education spending proposed is $533 million, about 60 percent of the budget, the expected state education aid of $387.2 million leaves $145.8 million in city revenue to cover the difference. When state aid isn’t included, that $145.8 million for education accounts for 29 percent of the budget.

Worcester Public Schools face a $22 million budget deficit for fiscal year 2025. Superintendent of Worcester Public Schools Rachel Monárrez, has proposed a 13 percent reduction in administrative and support positions, a 16 percent reduction in elementary classroom positions, 15 percent reduction in secondary classroom positions, and 28 percent reductions in school-based instructional, support positions, and non-salary positions and a 28 percent reduction in department, programs, services and systemwide costs.

The state required increase in local contribution to schools is $7.2 million, to $145.7 million, which Batista’s budget proposal says is the highest increase in over a decade.

Public Safety

Batista’s proposed budget for public safety departments is $113 million, which is 12.7 percent of the total budget, or 22 percent of the total budget, excluding state education aid.

Of the total operational budget of $195 million, which includes all operations of city government (does not include the school department), the four public safety agencies are allocated 57.9 percent.

Worcester Police Department

The Worcester Police Department is allocated $60.5 million, about 54 percent of the public safety budget in fiscal year 2025. That is an increase of nearly $5 million over fiscal year 2024. In 2024, the police budget was reduced by nearly $4 million. The budget proposal for fiscal year 2025 of $60.5 million is $1.2 million over the police department’s budget in 2023.

The total police department positions budgeted is 535, down from 537 in both 2023 and 2024.

Of the total operational budget of $195 million, the budget proposal proposes 31 percent to the police department.

Worcester Fire Department

The Worcester Fire Department budget proposal for fiscal year 2025 of $44.1 million is $869,000 less than budgeted last year. The total number of positions is decreased by one from 2024 to 457 positions.

Of the total operational budget of $195 million, the budget proposal proposes 22.6 percent percent to the fire department.

Emergency Communications and Management

The fiscal year 2025 budget proposal for the Emergency Communications and Management Department is $3.4 million, a reduction of about $380,000 from fiscal year 2024. Cutting the allocation of overtime by more than half, to $232,000 in fiscal year 2025 and maintenance by $52,000. The total positions of the department increases from 69 to 72, with salaries budgeted to increase by $22,000.

Of the total operational budget of $195 million, the budget proposal proposes 1.7  percent to the Emergency Communications department.

Inspectional Services

The total budget allocation to Inspectional Services, which will play a large role in the city’s new rental registry program, is $5 million, an increase of $47,000 from the previous year. The department’s total positions is set at 74 in fiscal year 2025,, an increase of one from the previous year.

The budget document notes that the department has hired and trained inspectors for the rental registry program.

Of the total operational budget of $195 million, the budget proposal proposes 31 percent to the Inspectional Services department.

Fixed Costs

The budget proposal reduces budget for fixed costs from $174.4 million in fiscal year 2024 to $165 million in fiscal year 2025 (5.4 percent decrease). Of the $165 million in fixed costs noted in the budget proposal, 84 percent comes from four areas: debt service (29 percent), pensions (23 percent), health insurance (20 percent), and financial integrity plan funds (12 percent).

Batista’s budget proposal projects the city paying $47.2 million in debt service (11.5 percent increase), $38.8 million in pensions (2.8 percent increase), and $32.9 million in health insurance (3.3 percent increase).

These increases are offset in mainly two areas. The contribution to the city’s Financial Integrity Plan is reduced from $30.5 million in fiscal year 2024, to $19.9 million proposed for fiscal year 2025 (34.8 percent decrease). The contribution to the OPEB Trust Deposit, a trust for post-employment benefits for city employees, is reduced from $6.7 million in fiscal year 2024 to $1 million in fiscal year 2025 (83.9 percent decrease).

Along with the budget proposal, Batista will present proposed changes to the Financial Integrity Plan to city council during its meeting on Tuesday, May 7.

The full budget proposal (.pdf)  is available for download from the city’s website.

City Council meetings are held in the Esther Howland (South) Chamber at Worcester City Hall, at 455 Main St. in Worcester. To participate virtually in the public participation portion of the meeting, join the meeting by Zoom. The meeting is also available live on the city’s Facebook page. The meeting begins at 6:30 PM.


Editor’s note: The dollar amounts and associated percentages in this piece may not exactly match. Dollar amounts listed are rounded. The percentages are calculated from the full figures presented in the budget proposal, and rounded to the nearest 0.1 percent.

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