NEW BEDFORD (WBSM) — The proposed annual budget for New Bedford in the next fiscal year increases funding for school systems and police departments while exceeding a half billion dollars.

On Wednesday, Mayor Jon Mitchell presented his Fiscal Year 2025 City Budget to the New Bedford City Council. The budget totals $536.3 million, of which the general fund is the largest component at $478.7 million.

This general fund includes funding for public safety, city government and schools. It also includes health insurance, pensions, mandatory assessments and debt services.

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Mayor Mitchell said the budget proposal is a spending plan that sustains services residents can expect without burdening taxpayers.

Mitchell also pointed to the emerging offshore wind industry's positive impact and the role of federal ARPA funding, which has allowed the direct allocation of critical resources toward a range of needs, from housing to small business assistance.

Concern About Erosion in Key Services Without New Spending Reforms

Mitchell encouraged the city council to focus on reforms that could significantly impact the City's finances.

He warns that the City's financial ability to deliver essential services to residents has been slow because of the share of the operating budget that remains compromised by fast-growing spending.

The City has limited control over the cost of health insurance, pension payments, debt services and assessments, which total $73 million out of the $470 million spending plan.

City of New Bedford
City of New Bedford

Mitchell noted the importance of including strategic action in those areas that remain within its capacity to change.

"Even shaving a fraction of these expenses through modest reforms could make a major difference," he said.

Schools and Police Department Increases Part of New Budget

Under Mitchell's proposed budget, funding for the school department would increase by $8.5 million. The police department would see a 10.5 percent increase, for an additional $2.8 million.

The school department increase is required in order to receive an increased amount of state educational aid.

Mitchell said the increase for the police department will help officer salaries compete in a challenging labor market.

The budget will now head to the city council for it to make any cuts deemed necessary before its final approval. The council can only cut from the budget, and cannot add to it.

The 2025 fiscal year starts July 1 and ends June 30, 2025.

The video of Mayor Mitchell's budget proposal can be viewed on the City website, and you can read his complete remarks there as well.

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