Here’s the story behind the story. According to the Globe, the cuts were the result of a failed override.
The decision to close the fire stations goes back to June 2004, when Gloucester voters rejected by a 4-to-1 ratio a proposal to override the state cap on property taxes, known as Proposition 2 1/2, which limits the annual increase in taxes and forces municipalities to seek voter approval for extra tax increases. The tax increase would have added $1.23 million to the city budget.
Without the money, firefighters, police, and other city workers were laid off, and the two fire stations were kept shuttered most of the time since the vote.
But let’s look at the context. Looking at local aid to Gloucester from the big three aid line items (Chapter 70 school aid, Lottery aid, and Additional Assistance) the city of Gloucester was seeking a tax increase to fill a fraction of the deficit from the withdrawal of local aid. The $1.23 million override wouldn’t have made up for the $2.05 million difference between local aid in FY03 (Jane Swift) and FY05, the fiscal year of the override vote.
Here’s the numbers:
Year Combined Aid (change from FY03)
FY03 (2002-03) $11,481,138 $0 (final Jane Swift budget)
FY04 (2003-04) $ 9,431,262 -$2,049,876
FY05 (2004-05) $ 9,431,262 -$2,049,876 (failed $1.23 million override)
FY06 (2005-06) $ 9,918,164 -$1,562,974
FY07 (2006-07) $10,606,102 -$ 875,036
Note to Christy Mihos: When you hang the Big Dig deaths on Muffy, don’t forget this one.