Waltham City Councilors have approved the fiscal 2013 budget, but with a stiff cut in the school district’s budget.
They gave the approval amidst questions on whether the full costs of education are included in the budget.
Councilors, during their Tuesday, May 29 meeting, gave their final approval to the $146,364,981 budget, and an additional $66,699,448 for the school district. In total, the city budget is $214,333,397.
Before giving final approval, the Finance Committee approved cutting $249,573 from the school department’s overall budget total. Finance Committee Chairman Thomas Curtin proposed the cut saying it was unfair to ask Waltham taxpayers to pay for special education programs upfront when some previous funds were carried over to the new budget.
Also, City Councilor Kathleen McMenimen called the school budget into question saying it did not include the full costs of education in Waltham. McMenimen believes the budget is not a true reflection of the actual costs of education. In a lengthy explanation, McMenimen said approximately $28 million in health care and pension costs as well as $31 million in costs related to new schools built in 2000, are not included in the budget.
McMenimen said she had hoped for an explanation on the issue from the School Committee but had had not yet received one.
“That’s a lot of money, but it is not reflected in that budget. So, as far as I am concerned, the budget process is broken,” McMenimen said.
With the budget approval, but with a cut, the School Committee must figure out how to implement the cut, which it could discuss during it’s Wednesday, June 6 meeting at Waltham High School. City Councilor Daniel Romard said he hopes the cut does not impact students.
“I really, really hope they look at it hard and not in the classrooms,” Romard said.
Also, the council approved several other relatively minor cuts totaling $334,330, before giving final approval.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this story incorrectely reported the the budget totals for the entire city budget. It has been corrected.