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Cambridge City Manager Unveils $882 Million Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Proposal

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The Cambridge City Council discussed the fiscal year 2024 budget and a policy order requesting a zoning petition at a meeting Monday.

City Manager Yi-An Huang ’05 presented a proposal for capital and operating budgets for fiscal year 2024 to the council. According to Cambridge’s website, the projected budget adoption date is June 5.

The year’s operating budget increased by $80 million, or 10 percent greater than the fiscal year 2023 figure, bringing the overall budget to approximately $882 million. The capital budget, deployed to support city infrastructure and other projects, is approximately $185 million.

A portion of the budget increase is due to an accounting change, as $23 million allocated to the affordable housing trust funding was shifted from the capital budget to the operating budget, which did not increase expenditures.

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Huang said the city’s budget priorities include “affordable housing and homelessness, early childhood, sustainability, vision-zero traffic safety, and anti-racism equity and inclusion.”

These five areas will be covered by the total consolidated spending of $279 million for FY24, marking an increase from $220 million in FY23. The increase is due to greater allocations for infrastructure projects and greater resourcing for key initiatives related to homelessness, climate, and universal pre-K.

The city will hold three public hearings on the proposed budget in May, including meetings involving the City Council Finance Committee and the School Department.

During the meeting, councilors also discussed a policy order which calls on Huang to direct Cambridge’s Community Development Department to draft a zoning petition that will be submitted to the City Council for consideration.

According to the order, the petition should be based upon proposed amendments to the Affordable Housing Overlay, which was passed in 2020 and aims to support the construction of new affordable apartment buildings.

“Our goal is to allow affordable housing to be easier and also to make the Affordable Housing Overlay strong such that we don’t have to revisit it,” said Councilor Burhan Azeem, one of the co-sponsors of the policy order.

But Councilor Paul F. Toner said the policy order requires “further conversation.”

“I feel the urgency for affordable housing, but I also feel the urgency that we get this right and try to build as much consensus as possible,” he said.

Councilor Patricia M. Nolan ’80 exercised her charter right, a councilor’s option to postpone the discussion of an order to a later time, delaying the vote to the next regular city council meeting, which is scheduled for May 8.

—Staff writer Jina H. Choe can be reached at jina.choe@thecrimson.com.

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