City councilors feared last night that a proposal made earlier in the day by Gov. Edward J. King to aid communities that do not override Proposition 2 1/2 could negatively affect the outcome of the city's April 13 property tax referendum.
The governor's proposal to the legislature would through additional state aid return two-thirds of the Prop 2 1/2 cuts to cities and towns that do not escape tax reductions this year through an over-ride.
Without an over-ride Cambridge must cut its property tax revenue by $10.2 million. The referendum gives voters the option of approving either a cut of $5.1 million or endorsing a zero reduction, sparing the city severe personnel layoffs.
Several councilors said they believe that the governor's proposal could cause voters to reject the over-ride and rely on as yet uncertain additional funding from the state.
Councilor Francis H. Duehay '55 cited a source close to the legislature as saying the governor's plan is a deliberate attempt to intervene in the Cambridge referendum.
Councilor David Sullivan labeled the governor's plan "irresponsible," saying it will only cause confusion in the referendum voting.
The confusion, according to the councilors, lies primarily in the uncertainty of the funds proposed by the governor.
The proposal would first have to pass both houses of the legislature before the city would receive any additional funds.
Even if it survived the legislature, the effect of King's proposal on Cambridge is unclear, the councilors said.
City manager Robert W. Healy said the governor's plan could potentially net the city $6.8 million if the voters fail to pass either over-ride provision. Healy said he was unsure how a partial override would affect state funding.
A city opting for total over-ride would receive no additional state aid and could have its basic aid package reduced, Healy told the council.
Many councilors called that part of the governor's plan a punishment for those cities concerned enough about city services to increase city revenues.
A preliminary budget prepared by the city manager indicates that if the city fails to totally over-ride Prop 2 1/2 cuts, the city would be forced to layoff 55 policemen, 54 firefighters, and 133 public works employees. A separate school budget shows that 91 teachers and 23 administrators would also lose their jobs.
Councilors were divided in predicting whether next Tuesday's referendum will pass.
Councilors Saundra Graham and David Sullivan were optimistic that both referendum questions would be approved, but Duehay said the two-thirds majority vote required for a complete over-ride could be very tough to obtain.