As part of the half-billion worth of cuts recently proposed by Gov. Deval Patrick, in anticipation of the "fiscal cliff" combined with projected state tax revenues that are more than $500,000 lower than previously expected, Stoneham could lose about $31,000 in local aid from state government, according to Town Administrator David Ragucci.
"The uncertainty of the fiscal cliff and the resulting slow down in growth, is the direct cause of our budget challenges," Patrick said. "Congress and the President must come to terms on a solution so the private sector will continue to make the kind of investments that create jobs, grow state and federal tax revenue collections and contribute to a lasting economic recovery."
"It sounds like some grant (money) for certain school and public safety program will be reduced," Ragucci said in an email to Stoneham Patch. "Unrestricted local aid will probably be reduced by about $31,000 which we would hope to cover from a surplus in health (insurance) budget. Whether or not we have available funds in other budget line items will depend on the winter and our snow (and) ice budget.
"Hopefully, we can manage these cuts within FY13 budget and not carry a deficit into FY14. I would suggest that we project FY14 revenues (especially state aid) more conservatively. As far as salary increases in FY14, very modest increases, if any, will have to be negotiated with the unions."
Exact figures will be hammered out by the legislature in the coming weeks. While Patrick can cut executive branch agencies through emergency mid-year '9C' cuts, the Legislature would have to approve expanded '9C' powers for Patrick to cut local aid.
The Legislature won't tackle the governor's proposal until after the New Year, as the body is currently in informal session.
Patrick said the proposed cuts reflected a one percent cut to non-school aid, but Dolan called that "a little disingenuous."
"He doesn't include all these (other) accounts that are being reduced that affect us," he said. "The one percent unrestricted government aid cut is around $45,000, (but) we thnk the overal reduction is going to be over $100,000."
In an email to Stoneham Patch, State Rep. Jason Lewis (Winchester - D) said: "Unfortunately, due to slower than expected economic growth and uncertainty over budget negotiations in Washington, state tax collections for the current fiscal year are running about $500 million below expectations. This requires the Governor and legislature to take steps to ensure the state budget remains in balance. The legislature is currently reviewing the plan put forward by Governor Patrick, which includes a wide range of spending cuts across many areas of state government and a significant withdrawal from the state’s rainy day fund. Any reduction in local aid for the current fiscal year would be an absolute last resort and it is my hope that this can be avoided."
The Governor's Proposal
In summary, the governor plans to balance the budget with the following reductions:
- $225 million in spending reductions through cuts in Executive Branch agencies. Combined with hiring controls the administration imposed in October, the total state workforce will have more than 6,000 fewer positions at the end of fiscal year 2013 than it did before the recession. A number of new investments for projects and programs in FY13 have been also been reduced or eliminated, including limiting new or restored funding for investments across a range of government services.
- $200 million from the Rainy Day Fund, bringing the total draw to $550 million in FY13 – leaving a balance of $1.2 billion, one of the highest in the country.
- $98 million in additional federal revenues in support of safety net programs operated by the state on behalf low-income residents.
- $25 million from a 1 percent reduction in the budgets of the Judiciary, Constitutional Officers and other non-executive departments.
- $20 million from a total of $113 million in savings in state borrowing and health care reform costs. The remainder of this funding will be used to offset some unavoidable deficiencies which must be funded this fiscal year.
- $20 million from a reduction in the amount of sales tax revenues that will automatically be transferred to the Massachusetts School Building Authority to support local school building costs.
- $11 million from certain reserve fund surpluses.
- $9 million from a 1 percent across-the-board reduction to unrestricted local aid. The governor has filed legislation that ensures if lottery profits exceed the $1.026 billion amount currently budgeted in FY13, all of such excess proceeds be committed to increasing the amount of unrestricted local aid.