Jul 28, 2014
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Town Recieves Cheery Cherry Sheet Estimate

The "on spot" figure keeps the school department's deficit around $500,000 for fiscal '13.

Town Recieves Cheery Cherry Sheet Estimate

Belmont Board of Selectmen Chairman Ralph Jones said he was "expecting level funding" in local aid from the state this budget cycle.

And the state delivered, at least in the first estimates of the amount Belmont budget writers can expect from Massachusetts Governor Patrick's budget when it is released in the spring.

Earlier this week, the Massachusetts Department of Revenue released its fiscal year 2013 local aid estimates and as the town, school department and Warrant Committee had predicted back in September, state aid is at the same dollar level as last year.

In fact, Belmont comes out ahead by just over $8,000.

FY '12 Cherry Sheet est.

FY '13 Gov. Budget differenceEducation aid$5,594,412 $5,588,320 $(6,092)Gen. Gov't$1,861,811 $1,876,059 $14,248Total aid$7,456,223 $7,464,379 $8,156

Looking a little deeper into the figures, Belmont saw a $5,813 drop on the education side of the ledger for charter school reimbursements but picked up $15,778 in Veteran's benefits.

The estimate from the state means the initiallevel service budget will remain constant. The town's total available revenue is pegged at $73,650,000.

The level estimate is just what town officials expected, said Elizabeth Allison, chairwoman of the Warrant Committee, which is preparing to analyze the 2013 level service budgets submitted by the school and town.
"The Town's available revenue forecast had assumed flat year to year state aid, and that is almost exactly what we got," she said.

Although the Warrant Committee has many sophisticated forecasting tools at its disposal, Allison said the group arrived at this "spot on" forecast by the older method of asking someone who knows, in this case, Mike Widmer, Town Moderator and head of Mass Taxpayers Foundation.

The initial numbers from the DOR could be a good indication that the final amount coming from Beacon Hill in May will be greater than last week's cherry sheets estimates. Last April, from the governor's initial figures.

But Allison warns against making similar assumptions to what occured last year.

"We certainly have that on our list of opportunities and risks and will be monitoring it carefully, but currently do not expect a major change," said Allison.

"To quote from Mike's Widmer's October presentation, 'The legislature can't do more [because the revenues aren't there] and won't want to do less in any election year'."

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