NORTHBRIDGE, Mass. – Rep. George N. Peterson (R-Grafton) came before the Northbridge Board of Selectmen on Monday with words of caution.
Gov. Deval Patrick’s budget proposal, which provides a small increase in state aid to Northbridge, is predicated on $2 billion in new tax revenue.
“My sense, at least in discussion with my associates in Boston and the Ways and Means Committee, is there’s not a strong appetite to raise revenue to that point,’’ Peterson said.
Patrick has proposed several ways to increase revenue, including raising the state income tax, an additional tax on cigarettes and a mileage tax.
The governor’s budget is just a proposal. It goes before the Senate and House of Representatives, and the Ways and Means Committee will have a counter budget proposal based on feedback from legislators by April 10.
There will be a meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee within the next two weeks. After that meeting, Peterson said he’d have a better sense of final state aid figures. “But I don’t think there will be a very sizable tax increase; these numbers are very suspect at this point,’’ he said of the governor’s budget.
Local state aid isn’t the only budget issue, however. Peterson said he’s concerned about special education circuit breaker and school transportation costs. “We have to make sure those line items are funded appropriately,’’ he said.
Town Manager Ted Kozak said state aid is important to the town and, even with a $129,000 increase in fiscal year 2012 and a $90,000 increase proposed for fiscal year 2013, state aid funding is still less than it was in the fiscal year 2011.
Peterson said he expects the budget to be debated the third or fourth week in April. “I’m hoping for an early resolution for local aid so we can say this is the floor so you could go to town meeting with some expectation.’’
The annual town meeting in Northbridge is May 7.