Mayor David B. Cohen said his 2008 city budget contains no cuts and will -- almost -- fully fund Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Young's ambitious school budget request.
Cohen said the city would use $2.2 million in free cash to give the schools an $11.2 million increase over last year's budget. Young had requested $11.6, an amount that included $1 million for new initiatives in the areas of middle school instruction, math, technology, and building maintenance.
"This budget reflects our shared commitment to keeping Newton schools among the finest in the land," Cohen said in his annual budget address to the city's aldermen last night.
Cohen's $266 million budget proposal also contained an additional $120 million in new funding for the Newton Free Library, which will use the money to buy new materials for preschoolers and to enhance the online services it offers to city residents.
He also said that the city would use federal, state, and local money to hire a new six-man crew for the Department of Public Works, so that the city can keep more repair jobs in-house.
While there would be no override this year, Cohen said that fundamental funding trends could force a vote on one for the city's 2009 budget. The city, he said, faces an ongoing structural budget gap because fixed costs such as health care and energy are rising at a rate of 5 percent per year, while revenues have been rising an average of 3.8 percent per year.
Cohen said he would be working over the next year to implement many of the recommendations made by the city's Blue Ribbon Commission, including merging the city's pension plan with the state retirement system. He also said he hoped Beacon Hill lawmakers would soon allow cities and towns to participate in the state health care system, which could also allow them to save money.
-- Ralph Ranalli
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