Mayor Wu rejects $10 million proposed cut to police overtime

The mayor called the move a "false reduction to the budget."

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu. Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe
Boston's Budget

Mayor Michelle Wu rejected a proposed $10 million cut to the police overtime budget floated by the City Council, writing to councilors on Monday the move would create an unstable financial plan and position the city to repeat a pattern of overspending.

“As we are all aware, due to state laws that require payment of all public safety overtime hours worked — regardless of the size of a budgeted line item — this would set up the city to repeat the pattern over several years of overspending on this line item and dipping into needed reserves from other areas to cover that,” Wu wrote to councilors in a letter included with her returned budget proposal.


“Therefore, I cannot include a false reduction to the budget that would create unpredictability elsewhere,” Wu continued. “We will continue to work through leadership, organizational improvements, and collective bargaining to rein in overtime (spending).”

Last week, the City Council used its newfound authority to amend budget line items proposed by Wu to send back an amended $3.99 billion operating budget for fiscal year 2023. Previously, the council could only approve or reject a mayor’s budget proposal.

The council’s proposal included a $13 million cut to police spending, with the vast majority stemming from overtime funding. The proposal would redirect that cash into other city initiatives, such as youth jobs programs.

Wu, however, in her letter said that in “recognition of the unanimous advocacy and intent of the City Council,” she will seek to reduce the police budget by $1.2 million.

Of that total, $1 million is from the department’s payroll budget — savings achieved by delaying the next recruit class by two months and a $200,000 reduction to the the department’s equipment budget, according to the letter.

“Should net state revenues come in higher than currently budgeted over the next few months as the state budget is finalized, this will be a top priority to restore and accelerate our recruit class,” Wu wrote.


Wu also signed off on a few of the council’s amendments, although for some, Wu decreased the scope.

“This returned budget is responsive to the advocacy and legislative intent of the City Council, while recognizing the importance of fiscal stability,” Wu wrote. “Many proposed amendments were accepted, though most at reduced amounts in recognition of existing resources or anticipated start-up timing.”

Once it formally receives Wu’s returned proposal this week, the City Council can accept Wu’s changes or vote to override the mayor’s veto with a 9 to 13 required majority. Councilors will likely vote later this month.


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