Budget Update from Mayor Grigoraitis and Superintendent Macero

May 17, 2024
Budget Update

Melrose Community,

As the City Administration and School Department continues the budget deliberation process for Fiscal Year 2025 (FY 25), we are reaching out to share the latest information and updates that will impact our community. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to read our previous messages on this topic from April 11 and April 25.

Impacts of Proposed FY25 City and School Budgets

The FY 25 budget approved by the School Committee and now under consideration by the City Council is funded only by existing, known revenues. Although this balanced budget would continue to fund most of the City’s obligations, it would also require both the School Department and other City departments to make substantial cuts in staffing; to freeze and forgo cost of living adjustments for employees; and to sacrifice investment in important long-term priorities such as maintenance of city facilities or infrastructure to improve the community’s climate resilience and readiness.

You can read about the implications of this budget for City departments here: https://cityofmelrose.org/fy25-budget-city-impacts. For a more detailed list of impacts to the Melrose Public Schools, visit: https://cityofmelrose.org/fy25-budget-school-impacts.

Proposition 2 ½ Override

On May 6, Mayor Grigoraitis asked the Melrose City Council to hold a special election on June 18, 2024 for a $7.7 million operational override. As explained above and in previous community messages, the City’s revenues cannot meet all of the needs of the Melrose Public Schools and other City departments unless property taxes are raised by more than the 2.5% limit set by state law. In cases where cities need additional funding to meet budget needs, the voters can be asked to approve a “Proposition 2 ½ override,” which would raise property taxes to generate the additional revenue. With or without an override, all Massachusetts cities and towns are required by state law to adopt a balanced budget.

If the override question is approved by the voters of Melrose, the additional $7.7 million will be used to fund:

$3.5 million to the City for Public Safety salary and wages for our first responders (both police and fire), salary and wages for currently unfunded  positions, including Economic Development, Sustainability, Council on Aging, Recreation, Library, Public Health, and Public Safety; mandatory benefits for new city and school positions; compensation adjustments, and vital investments in budget lines for public safety and DPW overtime, capital maintenance for municipal buildings, City and School information technology needs, and sustainability measures to address flooding and drainage issues.

$4.2 million to the Melrose Public Schools for teaching and learning personnel, services, and materials to support all students and meet growing enrollment and increased student needs, as outlined by Superintendent Macero and the School Committee during the School budget process.

If the override question is not approved by the voters, the City Council will proceed with adopting  a balanced FY 25 budget based only on existing, non-override revenues. Most mandatory expenditures and obligations will be met by this budget, but the City and Schools will implement significant cuts to important priorities, including staff layoffs, salary freezes, and little or no investment in important areas such as capital repair projects and sustainability measures.

What happens from here?

The Special Election is scheduled for Tuesday, June 18. Between now and then, we will continue to provide as much information as possible to help Melrose voters make an informed decision on this meaningful ballot question.

Details on your options for voting in-person or by mail and additional elections information can be found at the city’s Special Election Hub at www.cityofmelrose.org/special-municipal-election.

Finally, we are seeking residents’ questions about the FY 25 City Budget and the proposed Proposition 2 ½ operating override. We plan to use your questions to guide the City’s resident outreach ahead of the special election and the development of Frequently Asked Questions. Please send your questions to MayorsOffice@cityofmelrose.org.

How Did We Get Here?

From a collaborative budget process with the School Committee and the City Council, begun immediately upon Mayor Grigoraitis taking office, it is clear that the City of Melrose does not have the resources to fully sustain our schools at the level that our students, families, and community need and rightly deserve. As previously shared , the Mayor, CFO, and their team have examined every dollar available that could be provided to the Melrose Public Schools for this year and next year.

Earlier this year, Mayor Grigoraitis requested and the City Council approved one-time “free cash” investments in the schools for this year that will eliminate the current year (FY 24) operational deficit in the School budget. This operational deficit was identified during deliberations on the FY 24 budget this time last year , and Mayor Brodeur, the School Committee, and the City Council were all aware of this plan to make the school budget whole, which was known in advance, planned for thoroughly, and executed.

In addition, Melrose received a clean audit report from an outside, independent accounting firm for the Melrose Public Schools for FY23 (the prior complete school year). That audit shows no material findings. Every dollar has been traced back to its original source and used in service to our students. This is a tremendous accomplishment for our Director of Finance Ken Kelley and the school business office, as well as our CFO and Auditing team. You can review that audit report and the 22 categories of review on the MPS website and linked here .

The City as a whole also received clean audit results from our independent auditor. Moreover, the analysis of our financials by the state Department of Revenue, Division of Local Services must be completed to the agency’s satisfaction before we are allowed to use our free cash or set our tax rate each year. Global credit agency Standard & Poor’s thoroughly reviews our financials every time we borrow money or refinance our existing debt. All of these reviews consistently demonstrate that the City is a responsible steward of the community’s tax revenues.


Again, we respectfully ask for your questions about the FY 25 City Budget and the proposed Proposition 2 ½ operating override. We plan to use your questions to guide the City’s resident outreach ahead of the special election and the development of Frequently Asked Questions. Please send your questions to MayorsOffice@cityofmelrose.org.

We thank you for your engagement in our great community and for all that you do for Melrose.