Cohen Tells Finance Committee to Expect Uncertainty
As Town Meeting approaches, Chelmsford Town Manager Paul Cohen told the Finance Committee on Thursday that he recommends a level serviced budget for all non-school departments in Chelmsford due to looming uncertainty in Washington and Beacon Hill.
Although Town Manager Paul Cohen told the Chelmsford Finance Committee in a presentation on Thursday night that there’s now more certainty than there was earlier this month in the town’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget, there’s plenty of uncertainty left.
Due to pending concerns over pending sequestration cascading from Washington down to the local level and a lack of confidence over Governor Patrick’s recent budget request remaining intact through the legislature, he recommended a level serviced town budget, with an expected three percent increase for Chelmsford Public Schools and slightly higher figures in obligatory costs such as health insurance and veterans benefits
Cohen also told the board that there may be additional uncertainty in some parts of the budget such as the School Department, citing that the School Committee’s budget process is still in its preliminary stages and that the teachers’ contract would expire on June 30.
Ultimately, one of the few certainties Cohen provided during his testimony was the fact that Chelmsford students will make up the largest part of the student body at Nashoba Tech and that costs continue to rise at a standard rate in ways that cannot be controlled in a few key areas like the School Department and the Police and Fire Departments.
Cohen also noted that he had little confidence in particular in Patrick’s local aid figures expected for Chelmsford, noting changes in the Governor’s mentioning of 9c cuts recently as well as other issues, such as downshifting costs onto communities.
“The Governor continues to say that education funding continues to grow to the highest levels in the history of the Commonwealth,” said Cohen. “But it’s a bit disingenuous to tout education funding when you’re not telling the rest of the story.”
Cohen also noted that proposed budget figure of $111,298,003 on Thursday night would be $500,000 below the projected amount where a Prop 2 ½ override would be required.