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Town comes out $40,000 ahead in final state budget

Posted by Johanna Seltz  July 2, 2010 09:47 AM

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The town got more money from the state than it expected in the 2011 budget just signed by Gov. Deval Patrick – a $40,000 windfall to his hometown.

“The year before, we got blindsided and had to cut about $300,000 in our 2010 budget because of local aid being reduced at the last minute,” said John T. Hurley, chairman of Milton’s Warrant Committee. “We didn’t want to be in that situation again, so we tried to be as conservative as possible.”

That conservative approach meant that the budget presented to Town Meeting in April assumed that local aid would be cut 10 percent from what the governor was recommending.

Hurley said the local aid amount - $8.3 million – actually was less than expected, but it was more than made up for by a decrease in Milton’s state and county assessments. Balancing the numbers, leaves Milton with $40,000 extra from the state this fiscal year.

Town officials haven’t decided what to do with the unanticipated extra money, but Hurley said a special Town Meeting in September probably will be asked to put it in the town’s stabilization fund for use on a “rainy day.”

The spring Town Meeting put $800,000 in the stabilization fund, but the total in the account – a little more than $2 million – is “woefully low,” Hurley said. The money is there for emergencies and to help ride out cyclical economic problems like the current recession, he said.

“I’m nervous about 2012,” he added, “because there is so much one-time money in this state budget. There’s a lot of federal stimulus money still kicking around to balance that budget. I’m worried about how they’re going to replace that.”

Milton’s approximately $87 million budget for 2011 avoided layoffs in all departments except the schools, which will eliminate about 15 non-teaching positions, Hurley said. He said most of those jobs will be lost through attrition.

Milton approved a $3.4 million tax override in June 2009 to help deal with budget shortfalls.

Johanna Seltz can be reached at seelenfam@verizon.net

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