Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced on Tuesday that the state government will have to cut half a billion dollars in the budget to make up for the coming fiscal cliff and slow economic growth in the Commonwealth.
Mansfield will have to also shoulder the burden for these cuts, but it will not be too much of a problem, according to town and school administrators.
Mansfield town manager William Ross said that while there is no one large cut to the town there are many smaller cuts that will drive some costs up for Mansfield residents.
For instance, Ross said the one-percent across-the-board reduction to unrestricted local aid ($9 million in the state budget) will only take away from Mansfield about $19,000.
“Now that doesn’t seem like a lot, but every penny counts when you’re trying to make sure our budget remains balanced,” he said.
One other cut that Ross said “caught his eye” was a reduction in reimbursement for veterans’ assistance. The cut statewide is $1.3 million, a three- percent cut.
“The state mandates that the towns pay veterans assistance to veterans and that’s an appropriate thing,” he said. “This means that town's taxpayers have to pick up more and more of the money to pay for veterans assistance that’s mandated by the state, so there’s less money to pay for fire and schools because it all comes out of the same pot.”
One of the major problems Ross said with these cuts was that while cuts reduce state aid to local municipalities, state mandated programs and their costs remain the same.
“The state continues to pile mandates on the local units of government,” he said.
“In my opinion, if the governor is going to cut local aid, he should also propose and enact cuts in state mandates in a dollar for dollar level. Otherwise, he’s going to bankrupt virtually every community in the state.”
One example he mentioned was the state-mandated police officer training.
“Instead of police officers qualifying for weapons training twice a year they now have to qualify three times a year,” he said. “Now that doesn’t sound like a big deal other than it’s about $18,000 [per officer] by the time you add the ammunition the overtime and other costs to it.”