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Boston mayor plans to veto cuts to fire, police budgets

Mayor Michelle Wu announced plans to fully restore funding for public safety


Boston Mayor Michelle Wu speaks at a memorial held at the station for Engine 33 and Ladder 15 for firefighters that lost their lives 10 years ago at the 298 Beacon Street fire on March 26.

Staff Photo By Stuart Cahill/Boston Herald

By Gayla Cawley
Boston Herald

BOSTON — Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said she plans to veto cuts the City Council voted to make to her recommended spending plan for public safety, vowing to “fully” restore funding allocated for the police and fire budgets, the Herald has learned.

Wu said she plans to file documents vetoing City Council amendments to her $4.6 billion fiscal year 2025 budget on Monday while speaking at the Boston Fire Department’s annual memorial ceremony, which honors fallen firefighters, on Sunday, according to three people who heard her public remarks.

The mayor, according to two city councilors and a fire department source who attended the event, said her office was fully restoring all budget cuts that were made to first responders. She also noted that the event may not have been the proper time to announce her veto plans, a person familiar with her remarks said.

Wu’s office did not immediately respond to a Herald inquiry seeking confirmation of her remarks, which were taken by those in attendance to pertain to the nearly $3 million reduction the Council voted to make to her recommended budget for the police and a $734,999 cut in funding she proposed for the fire department.

A fire department source told the Herald that it was good to see the mayor at the memorial ceremony and deliver a message opposing the public safety cuts during a “big day” for firefighters, and in that “kind of atmosphere.”

“Local 718 strongly opposes any decision by the city that would result in a reduction to the budgets of the Boston Fire Department,” Sam Dillon, president of Boston Firefighters Local 718, the fire union, told the Herald Sunday.

Larry Calderone, president of the Boston Police Patrolmen’s Association, the city’s largest police union, commended the mayor’s decision.

“We applaud the mayor, not only for prioritizing public safety, but moving to fully restore any irresponsible cuts to the police budget by a City Council seemingly more concerned with playing politics instead of providing the highest levels of public safety to the people of Boston,” Calderone said in a statement.

The mayor also vetoed Council cuts to police and fire last year.

City Councilors Ed Flynn and Erin Murphy, who voted against the Council’s amended budget last Wednesday and attended Sunday’s memorial service, said they were happy to hear the mayor’s remarks.

“These painful cuts by the City Council to our public safety departments would hurt Boston residents and negatively impact the quality of life for Boston residents,” Flynn said in a statement. “We must stand with our dedicated city employees. Save services that save lives.”

Both said they support the mayor’s decision to veto, although it remains unclear whether Wu’s filing on Monday will also reject reductions the Council voted to make to other city departments like public works, transportation, and the Boston Center for Youth and Families.

The Council voted to reduce the mayor’s recommended spending for public works, transportation and the BCYF by $800,000, $600,000, and $570,000, respectively, in order to transfer funding to other Council priority areas — similar to what was done with fire and police budget reductions.

“Unfortunately, the Council passed an amended budget last Wednesday that would do harm to core city services,” Murphy said in a Sunday statement. “I voted against all of this and I was happy to hear from the mayor at an event we both attended earlier today that she is submitting her veto to the Council’s amendments and fully restoring all cuts made to our first responders’ budgets.”

Murphy added that she hopes that the mayor’s veto filing “also includes fully restoring” the “cuts to BCYF and other core city departments that our residents rely on for quality of life issues.”

The City Council voted, 10-3, to make $15.3 million in amendments to the mayor’s budget last week. The mayor would need two of the councilors who voted in favor of the amended budget to flip, to prevent a two-thirds override and sustain her veto.

Council Vice President Brian Worrell, who shepherded this year’s budget process as chair of the Ways and Means Committee, said in a Sunday night statement, “I look forward to seeing what the mayor files.”

“We had 10 councilors agree on our package this week, which took a data-driven approach,” Worrell said. “And in that vote, the Council showed its commitment to public safety with the largest increases in recent history, adding $47 million to the police budget next year, and $27 million to the fire budget.”

He added, “The Council’s final budget reflected the voices of the constituents and none of the differences will affect personnel.”

At last week’s Council meeting, Worrell said the approved amendments were based on data analysis that looked at where the city has historically underspent over the past six years. The body’s amended budget, he said, makes more than $15 million in new investments in housing, career and college readiness, quality of life and community safety.

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