City of Worcester, MA in the winter

Reports - Municipal Finance

Our reports on municipal finance track Worcester's revenues and expenditures and its financial condition on a yearly basis. All these reports contain recommendations for increasing revenues and decreasing expenditures.

Reports, articles and forms are available as a PDF downloadPDF icon, unless otherwise noted. Click here to download the free Adobe Reader application.

2013 Reports

Worcester's FY14 Budget: Making Ends Meet

This report looks at Worcester's FY14 budget of $563 million and suggest how Worcester can continue to balance its budget while facing increasing school, healthcare, and pension system costs.

A Prescription for Retiree Health Care: How Worcester can vanquish its OPEB liability while keeping its workforce happy and healthy

This report addresses a crisis local governments are facing across the nation: how to pay for OPEB – "other post-employment benefits" that were promised to retirees in better fiscal times. It examines the genesis of retiree benefits, their runaway growth, and the threat to municipal solvency, and suggests new policies to fulfill old promises while continuing to make healthcare affordable and obtainable for Worcester's public employees and retirees.

2012 Reports

Worcester's FY13 Budget: Post-Recession Observations

This report offers a number of observations on Worcester's FY13 municipal budget of $542 million. We conclude that while Worcester's finances are stable as a result of serious reforms in municipal employee health insurance plans negotiated by the City Manager and the unions and level-funding of local aid because of improved state revenues, the City's future situation remains uncertain. The huge drop in the value of the housing market on which the City is dependent for property taxes and unsustainable municipal retiree pension and health insurance benefits leave Worcester in a precarious condition.

2011 Reports

10 Questions about Worcester's FY12 Budget

In an effort to explain the major fiscal challenges that Worcester and every other community in the Commonwealth faces in FY12, and how they have been addressed, The Research Bureau presents answers to ten key questions about the City's budget.

Worcester's Bond Rating and the Recession: What's the City's Credit Score?

How is a bond rating for a municipality determined? Have Worcester's borrowing costs gone up or down in the current volatile municipal bond market? Can Worcester do anything to affect its bond rating? Find out the answers to these and other questions by reading this study.

2010 Reports

Worcester's FY11 Budget and Fiscal Crisis: No End in Sight

This report reviews the City Manager's FY11 budget. It explains the impact that the recession has had on the City's finances, the causes of the deficit in FY11, and the actions that the City Manager has taken in this year and prior years to address Worcester's persistent imbalance between revenues and expenditures.

2009 Reports

Benchmarking Municipal Finance in Worcester 2009: Factors Affecting the City's Bond Rating

This report discusses the significance of bond ratings for a municipality's financial well-being and examines seven indicators of municipal fiscal health that are key determinants of a municipality's bond rating. It compares Worcester's "low A" with the ratings of other similar New England cities.

Worcester's FY10 Budget: Challenges and Opportunities for Reform

This report, produced annually, reviews the City Manager's FY10 budget. After explaining Worcester's budget crisis and the measures the City Manager has taken to address it, The Research Bureau offers some recommendations for long term and short term fiscal reform.

2008 Reports

Benchmarking Municipal Finance in Worcester 2008: Factors Affecting the City's Bond Rating

This report discusses the significance of bond ratings for a municipality's financial well-being and examines seven indicators of municipal fiscal health that are key determinants of a municipality's bond rating. It compares Worcester's "low A" with the ratings of other similar New England cities.

Worcester's FY09 Budget: Continuing the Reform Agenda

This report, produced annually, reviews the City Manager's FY10 budget. After explaining Worcester's budget crisis and the measures the City Manager has taken to address it, The Research Bureau offers some recommendations for long term and short term fiscal reform.

2007 Reports

Cutting to the Core: Rethinking Municipal Services in FY08 and Beyond

This report discusses the significance of bond ratings for a municipality's financial well-being and examines seven indicators of municipal fiscal health that are key determinants of a municipality's bond rating. It compares Worcester's "low A" with the ratings of other similar New England cities.

Benchmarking Municipal Finance in Worcester: Factors Affecting the City's Bond Rating

This report examines six indicators of municipal fiscal health that are key determinants of a municipality's bond rating. Worcester's current bond rating of low A is in jeopardy due to thinning reserves and other financial issues facing the City.

2006 Reports

How Can Worcester Insure its Fiscal Health in FY07 and Beyond?

Suggestions for addressing projected budget shortfalls through cost controls, restructuring services, and increasing revenues.

2005 Reports

The FY06 Budget: Are Increasing Taxes and Reducing Services the Only Options?

Describes Worcester's cost reductions and municipal service improvements, and offers suggestions for additional improvements.

Condition Serious, Prognosis Uncertain: The Impact of Municipal Employee Health Insurance in Massachusetts

Compares Worcester's municipal health benefits with towns in the Worcester vicinity, 28 larger cities and towns in Massachusetts, regional and national averages, and data from private employers. The Appendix provides comparative data from surveyed cities and towns.

2004 Reports

Worcester's FY05 Budget: More Tough Questions

Worcester faces numerous financial challenges in its FY05 budget and beyond.

Tax Rate Comparison for Massachusetts Cities

Compares Worcester's commercial and residential tax rates with other Massachusetts cities and surrounding communities.

Will PILOTs Fly in Worcester? Taxing Nonprofits and Other Options

This report examines the potential costs and benefits of a Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program in Worcester.

The FY04 Budget: Did Worcester Make the Tough Choices?

Examines how Worcester closed its $20+ million dollar budget gap and compares those decisions with earlier Research Bureau recommendations. This is a follow up report to Tough Choices for Tough Times: The FY04 Budget from March 2003.

2003 Reports

The Use and Abuse of User Fees and Charges

Discusses the various kinds of fees and charges for municipal services, their proper use, and the methods for calculating them.

Tough Choices for Tough Times: Worcester's FY04 Budget

Discusses Worcester's FY04 budget and proposes several options for reducing expenditures, including restructuring municipal employee health insurance and pension benefits, restructuring other public safety benefits, and reorganizing public safety departments.

2002 Reports

Addressing the Projected Budget Shortfall in FY03

In order to address Worcester's FY03 anticipated budget shortfall, cost reductions and fundamental changes in the delivery of municipal services are explored.

2001 Reports

City Facing $5 Million Deficit in FY02: Taxes May Increase

In its yearly analysis of the City's revenue and expenditure projections, the Research Bureau makes a number of recommendations to reduce expenditures and increase revenues.

2000 Reports

Observations on the City Manager's FY01 Budget

Changes are needed to the FY01 budget in order to avoid higher taxes. The Research Bureau recommends that public officials develop a multi-year financial plan committed to a gradual reduction in each year's tax rate.

1999 Reports

Worcester's Commercial/Industrial Property Tax Rates Top Comparable Cities and Surrounding Towns

Worcester's tax rates are compared to similar and surrounding cities and towns.

Observations on the City Manager's FY00 Budget

This report contends that, in order to stimulate economic development, Worcester should focus on prudent financial management, develop a concrete plan for providing property tax relief, and foster a healthier economic climate.

1998 Reports

Budget Busters Create Deficit in FY00

Recommends that Worcester takes steps to bring the budget under control, and ensure that annual expenditures be kept at or below the rate of inflation.

FY99 and Beyond: City's Financial Difficulties Abound

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1997 Reports

Should Nonprofit Organizations Make Payments in Lieu of Taxes? The Case for and Against

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Worcester Facing Critical Choices in FY98 Budget

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1996 Reports

Worcester's Finances Problematic for FY97

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1995 Reports

City's Financial Outlook Remains Clouded for FY96

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1994 Reports

City's Financial Outlook Clouded for FY95

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1993 Reports

More Reductions in Services Projected for FY94

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1992 Reports

City's Financial Outlook Bleak for FY93

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1991 Reports

FY92: Reduction in Revenues May Lead to 10% Cut in Services

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Cutting Worcester's Health Insurance Costs

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1990 Reports

City Faces Potential Revenue Shortfall in FY91

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1989 Reports

City Faces Potential Revenue Shortfall in FY90

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1987 Reports

City Faces Potential Revenue Shortfall in FY89

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Public Employee Pensions Disabling City

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Real Estate Transfer Tax: The Case For and Against

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Worcester's Salary Schedule Needs Periodic Weighing

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1986 Reports

The Aftermath of Proposition 2 1/2: Shrinking Revenues and Increased Dependence

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City Faces Potential Loss of $4 Million in Revenue Sharing Funds

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