Governor's Budget Increases Belmont State Aid by $687,000 ... But
Town officials: Patrick's numbers are too early in process to hang town's budget hat on.
Belmont will receive a significant boost in state aid – for both schools and town services – in the coming fiscal year under Gov. Deval Patrick's proposed 2014 $34.8 billion budget he presented to the public on Friday, Jan. 25.
Under his plan, Belmont schools would receive an increase of approximately $633,000 in total education aid from the previous year's budget with the bulk coming in Chapter 70 state funding that jumps to $6.4 million in fiscal '14.
The town side would see a small bump up in state aid of just over $53,000 from the actual amount sent to Belmont last year.
Gov. budget ($)
|Chapter 70 state education aid||5,724,243||6,355,373||631,130|
|Total education aid||5,741,218||6,374,598||633,380|
|Unrestricted general government||1,909,790||1,909,790||0|
|Annual formal - local aid||0||53,220||53,220|
|Total State Aid||7,754,661||8,441,376||686,715|
The prospective aid increase would provide Belmont a cushion in a budget year most town officials believe will be a difficult one in reaching a level-spending goal.
But there is a very large caveat to the budget numbers provided by Patrick's corner office in the State House: namely, the state legislature.
The Governor's budget is an opening gambit in the budget process, allowing the legislature – the House of Representative and the Senate – a blueprint in creating their own budgets.
Those competing revenue and spending plans will need to be incorporated and a final fiscal document sent to Patrick who will decide to accept or reject it.
And all indications are that the legislature may not follow Patrick's game plan of paying for increases in education and a significant commitment to transportation and infrastructure investment by increasing the state's income tax by one percentage point while reducing the state sales tax.
For Belmont town officials, while Patrick's intital numbers are interesting, they are hardly something they are ready to hang their budgetary hats on.
Belmont Town Administrator David Kale, who will be leading the town in formulating the budgets, said while any additional revenue coming from the state "is a positive," it is far too early in the state process to accept Patrick's numbers as a fait accompli.
"We will see over the next weeks if those number will stick. Until then, we will not be using them in our calculations," said Kale.
The same sentiment is being heard next door to Town Hall in the School Administration Building.
"If real, the money would certainly help substantially both Town and Schools since it would likely be split," said Belmont School Superintendent Dr. Thomas Kingston.
"However, it is dependent on a set of hypothetical tax increases and cannot be used, even as a placeholder, until the Legislature forms a real budget," said Kingston.