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Wrentham Preparing for Cuts in Local Aid

With Governor Patrick proposing cuts to local aid, Town Administrator William Ketcham is preparing to minimize the impact of the cuts.

With Governor Deval Patrick’s proposal to cut state aid including aid to every municipality in the state, Wrentham is preparing to see less money from the state.

Based on Governor Patrick’s order to close a projected $540 million budget hole that the governor blamed on the pending “fiscal cliff," Wrentham can expect to lose about $8,000 of the $788,586 in unrestricted aid that the town receives. They may however, receive some of that money back next year if the Lottery brings in more revenue than expected.

According to Town Administrator William Ketcham, the town has an estimated $200,000 that can be used as a safe cushion to help soften the financial hit caused by a cut in aid.

“I would be comfortable saying that the town probably has a sufficient revenue cushion to survive the state’s cuts,” Ketcham said.

While the loss in unrestrictive aid is not the issue according to Ketcham, the worry lies in the other cuts that benefit the Wrentham and King Philip School Districts including cuts to the special education circuit breaker program, funding to a program that transports homeless children to their school district of origin, and the regional school transportation reimbursement that the King Philip Regional School District received.

“They are going through a laundry list of other cuts in state spending…all of which to some extent have some repercussions on the town,” Ketcham said.

Some of the examples given by Ketcham included women's health programs, kindergarten programs, and veteran benefits.

"Although I’m not really worried about the reduction in unrestricted aid because we could weather the $8,000, I am worried about the rest,” Ketcham said.

In response to the cuts in aids, the Wrentham Board of Selectmen voted 5-0 to direct Ketcham to advise town departments to not make any new hirings without discussing the hiring with Ketcham and to ask each department to find any extra savings or cuts that could be made without the approval of a town meeting.

The board will also write a letter to State Senator Richard Ross and State Rep. Dan Winslow to appose any cuts to local aid. Yesterday, Winslow came out against the cuts proposed by Governor Patrick.

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