With uncertainty as to whether $85 billion in federal sequestration spending cuts will be stopped by Congress before Friday, officials in Reading are keeping a close eye on the issue.
Without action from Congress, the sequester would go into effect automatically on March 1, reducing spending by the state in a number of areas, including education, the environment, health, military and law enforcement, the White House said.
The White House recently released a statement outlining the impacts the sequester would have state-by-state, including Massachusetts.
According to reports, one area that could be impacted the most on a local level are the schools.
Massachusetts would lose $13.9 million in education funding and another $13.9 million in cuts to education for students with disabilities.
"The effects of sequestration are far-reaching and complex. It is probable that some of our residents will be directly impacted in their professions, and many will see impacts to services that they use," Assistant Town Manager and Finance Director Robert LeLacheur said.
"The financial condition of Reading is strong, and we expect to weather any short-term impacts of sequestration without any noticeable change in our levels of service," he said. "Over the winter we partnered with several other communities and applied for two large Community Innovation Challenge state grants. The funding for the CIC grant program was significantly reduced quite suddenly – probably influenced by that anticipated trickle-down effect - and we were not successful in either application. While this does not impact our current level of services, it does put us a step behind making some technological improvements for the future."
LeLacheur said state and federal funding have always been a concern.
"Last summer we began discussion in earnest about how the federal situation might impact Reading, and the FY14 budgets currently in front of FINCOM have been fashioned with that concern in mind," he explained.