For the third-straight year, the Mayor has requested budget priorities from individual city councilors as she and her team go about the task of putting together a proposed budget. Our charter doesn't require the executive to collaborate with the legislative body, so this is great that the Mayor has taken it upon herself to seek this input. I've seen individual budget priorities of mine like funding for out-of-school time from the General Fund and another planner for Planning, Preservation and Zoning included in past budgets, so I know first-hand that the Administration is taking our input seriously.

Somerville City Hall broken clock tower

It's true that the pot of money the City has as its disposal to invest in services is expanding every year, thanks to the construction boom and in particular the new growth on the commercial side. But this doesn't mean we limitless funds, and putting together a budget will require extremely tough choices with very worth things not making the cut this year. That's why I wanted to express support for areas I feel are deserving of additional funding in the next fiscal year.

I shared my budget priorities for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2025 in a memo that I introduced as a communication at the City Council regular meeting on Thursday night. In the memo, I got into detail on the 39 priorities that range from very specific asks like more funding to expedite the digitization of City archives to broader requests like additional funding for affordable housing.

Here are some key highlights:

  • Increased funding for community non-profits providing food, shelter, and services to unhoused residents
  • Funding to create an unarmed civilian response pilot program
  • Funding for a camera traffic enforcement pilot program
  • Funding for a GIS-based microsite on the City website with full information on projects happening in the city
  • Increased funding for rodent mitigation programs
  • Funding for staffing and programming to activate the high school as a community center outside of school hours
  • Increased funding to create affordable artist spaces in the city

The budget team log all individual councilor budget priorities and evaluate them on legality, feasibility, and affordability. Meanwhile, as the Finance chair I'll leading another iteration of the City Council's shared budget priority process. I met with all 10 colleagues in the past month to talk about the process: what worked well and what didn't work so well the past two times and what councilors would like to see done differently. The result is a process that I very optimistic about.

This year we'll take all the individual councilors' budget priorities and at a special Finance Committee of the Whole meeting in the City Council Chamber on Tuesday, March 29. Councilors will have the opportunity to champion one or two of their individual priorities that they want to garner support from colleagues to make a shared budget priority of the council. Then we'll all vote for our top 10 budget priorities for FY25, and after a short recess we'll return to take up resolutions on the areas receiving the most support. These resolutions will then be sent to the Administration to express the areas the City Council feels are most important to address in the FY25 budget.

Also new this year is a public hearing on budget priorities. This will take place virtually on Zoom at 7 PM on Tuesday, March 19. There will be live interpretation available, as well as a in-person setup in a to-be-determined municipal building to allow folks who don't have devices or don't want to use their devices to comment.

Here is a presentation outlining the shared budget priority process that I shared with the City Council at our February 8 regular meeting.

Jake Wilson


Somerville City Councilor-At-Large (he/him/él)