Sunday, November 26, 2006

Boston Budget Analysis---Where the money is going, and How great are the City Benefits?

From the numbers man:

Ladies and gentleman - for your perusing pleasure, I have attached a spreadsheet of critical budget item comparisons between 1997 and 2007 city budgets - highlights:
- The city of Boston, despite flat population and dramatically lower school populations has seen to increase headcount by 3% over the past 10 years
- The budget has increased by 55% - almost twice the rate of inflation.
- In 2007 we will have as many police as in 1997 - the police have drawn the "short" straw with average expenditure per employee (this is all expenses - not just salaries - if we get into detail - no pun intended - we will probably see fairly flat capital expenditures and most of the increases going to payroll costs increasing 35% - (note healthcare is not included in this)
- We will have 4% fewer people in the Boston FD - with a 46% increase in expenditure per employee - again probably mostly in wages - health/life benefits not included here)
- Public works expenditure is indeed up 65% - hooray - off of a small base - employees way down - probably due to outsourcing - thus N/A in several ratio calculations.
The schools - aaaah - the schools - if I am reading this correctly - we can observe the following (note health and other benefits are included in school calculations):
Operating budget - up 59%
External funds budget - up 100%
Capital budget - up 171%
Total budget - up 67%
Cost per pupil up 85% and expected to rise another 22% over the next 3 years!!!
What do we get for all this
Public works - we have a new little street sweeper that comes down the alley every couple of weeks
Police - probably about status quo
Fire - about status quo
Schools - overall scores are up - but we still rank in the bottom 5 school districts based on 10th grade MCAS and SAT scores - a rising tide has raised all the ships - but our ship isn't sailing any faster!
One finail interesting item of note - the city of Boston is absorbing health care for about 15,700 employees (these must be amazing benefits - assuming a few people in the government are married to each other, essentially 100% of employees choose city health care - almost none use their spouse's!)
In addition, we have almost as many retirees (12,899) as employees drawing city health benefits - actuarially almost impossible until you learn that everyone eligible to draw a pension (at 10 years I believe) is eligible for health coverage the minute they walk out the door (not at 62 or 65 like most other plans where they expect you to work until retirement). I need to do some research to confirm this is the case, but I know for a fact that at $8000 per employee - that's the equivalent of an immediate annuity worth about $125,000!
Nice perk!

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