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How Could the Governor's Cut to Local Aid Impact Weston?

Gov. Deval Patrick has announced plans to cut the state's local aid for the current fiscal year. But what does that mean for Weston?

Gov. Deval Patrick on Tuesday announced plans to close a $540 million state budget deficit through a combiniation of cuts and transfers from the state's "rainy day" fund.

The proposed cuts, some of which require the approval of the legislature, would reduce the state's planned aid to Wayland in the current fiscal year, FY2013, by just over $32,450.

In particular, Patrick's proposal cuts $11.5 million from the state's Special Education Circuit Breaker reimbursement program, a move that the governor can enact without the legislature's approval.

That $11.5 million represents 4.75 percent of the overall Circuit Breaker line item in the state budget. In Weston, the expected FY13 Circuit Breaker reimbursement is $614,694, and a 4.75 percent reduction to that full amount would impact Weston to the tune of about $29,300.

Weston Public Schools Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Cynthia Mahr said she's been keeping an eye on the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education email announcements and that state agency is indicating that the Circuit Breaker cuts won't impact local communities at all.

Mahr said DESE is indicating that it will be able to absorb the governor's cuts without significant cuts in local reimbursements given that it aready planned to pay only 70 percent of full reimbursements. The $614,694 to Weston mentioned early is the 70 percent reimbursement.

If the cuts do trickle down, however, "We're fortunate enough that the revenue the we're receiving for FY13 is for our FY14," Mahr said. She added that she will continue to monitor DESE's assessment of the situation and expects to know more definitive answers soon.

Another cut proposed by Patrick is a 1 percent reduction in the state's unrestricted local aid, which "funds municipal services including police and fire protection, parks, and public works," according to the state budget center. This cut would require approval by the legislature.

In Weston, a 1 percent cut to unrestricted local aid would equal about $3,165, certainly not a devastating amount, but a cut nonetheless. Weston was expected to receive $316,391 in unrestricted aid for FY13.

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