Category Archives: Budget matters

MMA on Transportation bill

This today from the Massachusetts Municipal Association -

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

TRANSPORTATION CONFERENCE COMMITTEE AGREES ON $300 MILLION FOR CHAPTER 90 IN FISCAL 2015

House & Senate to Vote on Transportation Conference Committee Report this Week

Ch. 90 Funds Should be Available Immediately After the Bill is Signed into Law

Early last night, the House-Senate conference committee reached agreement on the final version of the Legislature’s statewide transportation bond bill, and filed the compromise measure with the House Clerk. This sets up a final vote to approve the bill and send it to the Governor’s Desk this week. The House plans a vote on Wednesday, April 16, and the Senate plans a vote the next day. After that, the Governor will have 10 days to sign the bill.

Lawmakers have stated that they have written the final bill to include the so-called “terms bill” language that has usually passed as separate legislation after the Governor signs the bond bill. This is intended to eliminate the long delay between enactment of the bond bill and the official release of Chapter 90 and other transportation funds. Absent unforeseen developments, this means that the fiscal 2015 provisional Chapter 90 authorization letters will become official once the Governor signs the bond bill into law.

The sweeping 5-year $13 billion bond bill includes a $300 million Chapter 90 authorization for fiscal year 2015, matching the fiscal 2014 authorization passed last summer. In spite of the higher authorization from the Legislature, the Patrick Administration has already announced that they plan on releasing just $200 million. On April 1st, MassDOT sent provisional letters of authorization to cities and towns announcing that they plan on officially releasing $200 million after the passage of the transportation bond bill.

The release of the full $300 million Chapter 90 authorization continues to be a major issue of contention between the Legislature and the Governor, with lawmakers siding with local officials in support of releasing the full amount. The House chair of the transportation committee stated this week that the Legislature will continue to support $300 million for Chapter 90, and that the authorization would stay in place so that the current Administration or the new Governor in January could act to release the full amount.

Earlier this year, lawmakers in the House and Senate had each approved different versions of the statewide transportation bond bill that includes future funding for the vital Chapter 90 program for the maintenance and repair of local roads. The Senate bill included a $1.5 billion Chapter 90 authorization intended to provide $300 million in annual funding over the next five years, from fiscal 2015 through fiscal 2019. The House bill provided only one year of funding at $300 million for fiscal 2015. Language in the Senate bill included several new rules governing the use of Chapter 90 funds that would have reduced local flexibility to address municipal needs by imposing unnecessary and overreaching new reporting and accounting requirements. The House did not include this language.

The final compromise bill ironed out by the House and Senate conferees settled on the House’s one-year Chapter 90 authorization at $300 million, and softened the restrictions proposed by the Senate. The final bill states that a community will only be able to carry forward more than 50 percent of the allocated Chapter 90 authorization from one year to the next if the city or town submits a 5-year spending outline to MassDOT. Also, the bill includes language requiring MassDOT to provide “preliminary notice” of the Chapter 90 authorizations by March 1 of each year. This is a change from past practice in previous Chapter 90 bond bills, which included language requiring cities and towns to receive official notice of their Chapter 90 authorizations by April 1 of each year.

Clearly, municipal leaders have succeeded in convincing Representatives and Senators of the need to increase Chapter 90 funding to $300 million a year – that is a significant victory. Winning release of the full $300 million will continue to be a top priority for the MMA, and we will not cease until all of the funds flow directly to cities and towns. In addition, we will continue to monitor the state’s administration of the Chapter 90 program to secure timely notification and release of the funds to maximize planning and make full use of the construction season, and oppose any state rules to restrict local flexibility.

The MMA is continuing to analyze the details of the sweeping transportation bond bill, so please check the MMA website at www.mma.org for more information. Thank You.

 

Chap. 90 monies may get funded

This courtesy of Statehouse News Service, by way of John Nunnari -

DEAL REACHED ON MULTI-YEAR $13B TRANSPO BOND BILL:
House and Senate negotiators reached a deal Monday afternoon on a $13 billion transportation borrowing bill that includes a one-year $300 million authorization for local road repairs in fiscal 2015 and funding for the Green Line extension, South Coast rail, the expansion of South Station and scores of other local projects. The House, which plans to meet on Tuesday in an informal session, could accept the report of the conference committee ( H 4046) and schedule a vote to engross the bond bill for Wednesday. The Senate could take it up as soon as Thursday when it plans to meet in a formal session. The compromise bill was negotiated by Transportation Committee Chairmen Rep. William Straus and Sen. Thomas McGee, Reps. Stephen Kulik and Peter Durant, and Sens. Stephen Brewer and Robert Hedlund. Straus told the New Service that despite cities and towns being informed by the Patrick administration to only expect $200 million in Chapter 90 road money this year, he’s hopeful the full amount will be eventually authorized. The conferees opted against a five-year Chapter 90 authorization as proposed in the Senate version of the bill. “We’ve authorized $300 million because we believe that’s a reasonable level and it did not escape our attention that Deval Patrick will only be governor for half of the next fiscal year. It may be that the next governor is inclined to make full use of the $300 million authorization,” Straus said. The bill also includes language to preserve the “right of way” and spend up to $2 million to update environmental impact documents related to a potential underground rail link between North and South stations. In addition to authorizing the purchase of new Red and Orange Line cars, Straus said the conference report also calls for those T cars to be assembled in Massachusetts and requires the potential for job creation to be considered when choosing a location where the work will be done. The bill would also earmark $65 million for the dredging of Boston Harbor to increase the depth of the port and make it more accommodating to large cargo ships. “There’s a lot of competition with East Coast cities and to get Boston harbor to a good 40 foot depth is important,” Straus said. To view the full conference report, visit: http://www.statehousenews.com/docs/2014/04-14_TranspoBondBill.pdf – M. Murphy/SHNS

John Nunnari, Assoc AIA
Executive Director, AIA MA

$59,369 of state pothole money

Email yesterday from Mike Sullivan -


We received a letter from the Mass Dept of Transportation this morning advising us that our share of the $30 million in pothole money for street repairs was $59,369. These funds must be obligated by June 30, 2014 and spent by September 30, 2014 on road repairs or other limited projects related to damage from this winter’s weather. We have to return a contract form signed by the Chairman within a week, so I asked Evelyn to add it to the agenda. I also spoke to Ken and he felt the best use of the money would be to expend it on crack sealing and sealcoating. He said that he gave you a list of streets when he met with you recently, so you may wish to review it before tomorrow night

Mike

Budget #’s to date

Medfield’s state aid under yesterday’s House budget, per the Division of Local Services of the DOR.  We do about $57K better under the Governor’s budget than we did last year, and about $36K better under the House budget than the Governor’s budget   -

FY2015 Local Aid Estimates based on House Ways & Means Committee Budget

The FY2015 local aid estimates based on the House Ways & Means Committee (HWM) budget proposal have been posted to the Division of Local Services website at the link below:

http://www.mass.gov/dor/local-officials/municipal-data-and-financial-management/cherry-sheets/

FY2015 Chapter 70 and Unrestricted General Government Aid appearing in the HWM budget proposal are consistent with the local aid resolution approved by the legislature in March.  The HWM budget proposal recommends increasing the funding for Charter Tuition Reimbursements by $5 million, adding an additional $2 million to the Regional School Transportation account, a $500,000 increase to State-Owned Land reimbursements and a $263,527 increase to Public Library aid.  Most other cherry sheet accounts are level funded compared to FY14 appropriations.

Please be aware that these estimates are subject to change as the state budget process progresses.  In particular, final Charter School and School Choice assessments may change significantly when updated with final enrollments and tuition rates.

If you have questions about these estimates, please call the Databank/Local Aid Section at (617) 626-2384.

FY2015 Local Aid Estimates
Medfield
FY2014 Cherry Sheet Estimate
FY2015 Governor’s Budget Proposal
FY2015 HWM Budget Proposal
FY2015 SWM Budget Proposal
FY2015 Conference Committee
Education:
Chapter 70
5,797,959
5,862,409
5,862,409
5,862,409
School Transportation
0
0
0
Charter Tuition Reimbursement
7,794
2,582
2,754
Smart Growth School Reimbursement
0
0
0
Offset Receipts:
School Lunch
9,260
8,679
School Choice Receiving Tuition
0
0
Sub-total, All Education Items:
5,815,013
5,873,670
5,873,842
5,862,409
General Government:
Unrestricted Gen Gov’t Aid
1,255,070
1,255,070
1,289,875
1,289,875
Local Sh of Racing Taxes
0
0
0
Regional Public Libraries
0
0
0
Urban Revitalization
0
0
0
Veterans Benefits
16,639
18,649
18,649
State Owned Land
31,977
27,733
28,261
Exemp: VBS and Elderly
26,028
27,101
27,101
Offset Receipts:
Public Libraries
13,600
13,491
14,088
Sub-Total, All General Government
1,343,314
1,342,044
1,377,974
1,289,875
Total Estimated Receipts
7,158,327
7,215,714
7,251,816
7,152,284
Estimates for Chapter 70 and Unrestricted General Government Aid are based on local aid resolution approved by the Legislature. All other Cherry Sheet programs will be subject to debate as the House and Senate prepare their budget proposals.

Cultural Council budgets OK

I just heard Governor Patrick say that he thought that the budgets of the state’s Cultural Councils should be OK, despite the fact that the house budget released yesterday cut those budgets in half.  Medfield gets $4,250 a year in state funds and pays for lots of things with little money.  There is a pending annual town meeting (ATM) warrant article to have the town match the state contribution, to effectively double spending on the arts in town.  However, I believe the Warrant Committee is not supporting that new spending this year.

MMA on House budget

This from the Massachusetts Municipal Association this afternoon on the state budget issued today by the House Ways & Means Committee -

Wednesday April 9, 2014

HOUSE W&M BUDGET TRIMS STATE SPENDING AND INCLUDES TARGETED LOCAL AID INCREASES

HW&M Budget Funds the Promised Increase of $25M for UGGA and $99.5M for Chapter 70, as Passed in the Local Aid Resolution

HW&M Budget Adds $5M to Special Education Circuit Breaker, with the Intention of Fully Funding the Program

HW&M Budget Adds $5M to Charter School Reimbursements, which is Progress But Still Falls Short of Full Funding

HW&M Budget Adds $2M to Regional Sch. Trans. and $920K for Libraries

HW&M Budget Level Funds McKinney-Vento and PILOT Accounts

Outside Section 32 Would Extend Freeze on Retiree Health Insurance Contributions for 2 More Years for Communities that have Implemented Muni Health Reform Law

As expected, the House Ways and Means Committee today released its version of the fiscal 2015 state budget, a $36 billion budget plan with a bottom line that is $191 million lower than the Governor’s recommended budget, yet provides more funding for targeted municipal and school aid programs.

The House plan would spend less than the amount recommended by the Governor in January, avoid the tax increases proposed in the Governor’s budget, draw less from the rainy day fund, and increase municipal and school aid accounts used to balance local budgets by nearly $40 million above the amount recommended in the Governor’s budget.

Cities and towns are facing serious fiscal challenges, and the MMA will be working hard to build on the House Ways and Means budget when the full membership begins debate on Monday, April 28. In the meantime, House members will have until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 11 to file budget amendments.

Please contact your Representatives and tell them how this budget impacts your community.

THE FOLLOWING IS AN INITIAL ANALYSIS OF THE KEY LOCAL AID AND POLICY ITEMS INCLUDED IN THE FISCAL 2015 STATE BUDGET PROPOSED BY THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE:

$25 MILLION INCREASE IN UNRESTRICTED GENERAL GOVERNMENT AID

The HW&M budget plan funds the $25.5 million increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid that was announced in the local aid resolution passed by the Legislature last month, increasing UGGA funding from $920.23 million to $945.75 million. The Governor’s budget would have level-funded this vital source of local aid.

CHAPTER 70 INCREASE REMAINS AT $99.5 MILLION

The House leadership’s proposed budget also reflects the $99.5 million increase in Chapter 70 funding proposed by the Governor and passed in the Legislature’s local aid resolution, which would bring total Chapter 70 aid up to $4.4 billion. The plan would bring all cities and towns up to foundation levels, phase in the target share funding provisions, and provide all communities with a minimum increase of $25 per student. Most cities, towns and regional school districts are slated to only receive the minimum aid increase of $25 per student, an amount that is inadequate to maintain existing program levels. Although the MMA will continue to call on legislators to provide a higher minimum aid increase when the full budget is debated later this month, amendments to increase Chapter 70 funding will not be allowed under a budget order passed by the House this week, with the majority of the House deciding that the debate on Chapter 70 funding took place during the adoption of the local aid resolution last month.

HW&M BUDGET ADDS $5 MILLION TO SPED CIRCUIT BREAKER, INTENDING TO FULLY FUND THE PROGRAM

The House Ways and Means budget would fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker program at $257.5 million, a $5 million increase intended to fully fund this essential reimbursement program. The Governor had proposed level-funding, which would have generated a shortfall due to rising costs, and the House’s commitment to increased funding is very much appreciated.

CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS RECEIVE $5M BOOST, STILL UNDERFUNDED

Under state law, cities and towns that host or send students to charter schools are entitled to be reimbursed for a portion of their lost Chapter 70 aid. The state fully funded the reimbursement program in fiscal 2013, but is underfunding reimbursements by approximately $28 million this year. The Governor’s budget would level-fund charter school reimbursements at $75 million, which would guarantee a shortfall of $29 million in fiscal 2015. The HW&M budget would increase reimbursements by $5 million, to a total of $80 million. This represents progress, but the program would still be underfunded by $24 million. Underfunding the charter school reimbursement program causes major fiscal distress in every community that has a significant charter school presence. Only a small fraction of the public school students attend charter schools. Underfunding this program would force cutbacks for the vast majority of students who remain in the traditional school setting.

$2M MORE FOR REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION REIMBURSEMENTS

The Governor’s budget would have level-funded regional school transportation reimbursements at $51.5 million, and the HW&M budget would add $2 million for fiscal 2015. This account remains underfunded, yet the $2 million increase will help communities deal with rising costs due to fuel and inflation.

$500K RESTORED TO PAYMENTS-IN-LIEU-OF-TAXES (PILOT)

The Governor’s budget would have cut $500,000 from PILOT payments, reducing the program to $26.27 million. The proposed House budget would restore this funding, and keep the account at the fiscal 2014 level of $26.77 million.

McKINNEY-VENTO REIMBURSEMENTS UNDERFUNDED

The HW&M and Governor’s budgets would level-fund reimbursements for the transportation of homeless students at $7.4 million, which is at least $7 million below the full reimbursement called for under the state’s unfunded mandate law. Two years ago, the State Auditor ruled that the adoption of the federal McKinney-Vento law imposed an unfunded mandate on cities and towns. The program was funded at $11.3 million in fiscal 2013 and $7.4 million in fiscal 2014. Level-funding the program would continue to impose a significant burden on those cities and towns that are providing transportation services to homeless children who have been placed in their communities by the state.

SHANNON ANTI-GANG GRANTS WOULD SEE REDUCTION

The HW&M budget would fund Shannon Anti-Gang grants at $4 million in fiscal 2015. Current funding is $7 million this year.

OUTSIDE SECTION 32 WOULD EXTEND FREEZE ON RETIREE HEALTH INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS FOR 2 MORE YEARS FOR COMMUNITIES THAT HAVE IMPLEMENTED THE 2011 MUNICIPAL HEALTH INSURANCE REFORM LAW

The MMA will be strongly opposing Outside Section 32 of the proposed House budget, which would extend a 3-year freeze on changing retiree health insurance contribution percentages by an additional 2 years. Under existing law, any community that used sections 22 or 23 of Chapter 32B (the new municipal health insurance reform law) to implement plan design changes or join the GIC is prohibited from changing retiree health insurance contribution percentages until July 1, 2014. This outside section would extend that freeze for 2 more years, until July 1, 2016 for any community that has adopted or is planning on adopting provisions of the 2011 municipal health insurance reform law. This proposed change would reverse planned contribution changes that have already been adopted by some communities, and would delay the ability to take action on retiree contribution percentages in many others.

THE HOUSE WILL BEGIN DEBATE ON THE BUDGET ON MONDAY, APRIL 28. PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES TODAY AND URGE THEM TO BUILD ON THE LOCAL AID INCREASES IN THE PROPOSED HOUSE BUDGET.

 

W/O TAXES, HOUSE PROPOSEs LEANER BUDGET THAN PATRICK

From John Nunnari -

The House increased Medfield’s UGGA by $38,305 over the Governor’s proposal, but overall the House is still $99,255 over last years budget.

Municipality/Regional District 7061-0008 Chapter 70 Unrestricted General Government Aid Annual Formula Local Aide
FY ’14 Actual Appropriation $5,797,959.00 $1,255,070.00 $0.00
Governors FY ’15 Proposal $5,862,409.00 $1,255,070.00 $0.00
Medfield (House FY ’15 Proposed Numbers) $5,862,409.00 $1,289,875.00 $0.00
Medfield (Senate FY 15 Proposed Numbers) $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
FY ’15 Conference Committee Report           July +/- $0.00 $0.00 $0.00
     
       
       

See below for a basic breakdown of the House proposed Chapter 70 budget for Medfield. As the Governor did not include specific numbers in his FY ’15 budget for any city or town, I have simply shown it as a zero (if anyone wants the verbiage he has used in place of the specific allotments, let me know and I’ll send it along).

At this point in time, Medfield stands to increase it’s Chapter 70 allotment by $99,255 over last years budget.

The Senate will release it’s budget it May.

If past budgets are any indication of legislative intent, the Senate usually proposes the same Chapter 70 numbers as the House, thus avoiding any conference committee negotiations over specific Chapter 70 numbers.

John

Below is from the State House News Service -

STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, APRIL 9, 2014…..With special attention paid to fighting drug addiction and improving the performance of the embattled Department of Children and Families, House leaders on Wednesday will present a $36.2 billion annual budget proposal that also features scores of spending cuts.

The budget blueprint for the fiscal year that starts July 1 increases spending by 5 percent over last year, but falls about $191 million short of what Gov. Deval Patrick proposed in January after House Speaker Robert DeLeo made clear he would not pursue new taxes and nixed proposals to tax the sale of candy and soda or expand the bottle bill in the budget. House leaders say Patrick’s fiscal 2015 budget increased spending by 5.3 percent.

The House Ways and Means Committee released the bill Wednesday, and lawmakers have until Friday to review it and propose amendments in advance of the House’s annual budget debate scheduled to begin on April 28. The Senate plans to unveil and process its own budget proposal in May.

While the budget reflects the agreement reached early with the Senate to increase local aid for public schools by $100 million and boost unrestricted aid by $25 million over last year, officials said additional increased funding was targeted for regional school transportation, special education, charter schools, and local libraries.

“It shows our partnership that we feel we have with our cities and towns,” DeLeo told the News Service during an interview in his office.

Despite surging state revenues – collections are running $631 million above original fiscal 2014 estimates – House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey said cost drivers like reimbursement rates for human service workers, a commitment to increased transportation investments of $141 million and the decisions to accelerate funding by $163 million for the liability-plagued state pension system ate up large chunks of new resources. House officials identified $203 million in costs associated with implementing a 2008 health care law governing reimbursement rates for human and social services, including long-term care services for developmentally disabled adults.

“While we are growing our revenues, we’re also trying to be prudent in our use of that growth,” said Dempsey, noting that the proposal uses $140 million in reserves and cuts in half to $260 million the amount of one-time revenues used to balance the budget. Patrick used $175 million from the rainy day fund and $334 million in one-time revenues sources. In both cases, those numbers are down significantly from recent years, and would leave the rainy day fund with $1.2 billion, one of a handful of states with stabilization funds exceeding $1 billion.

The MassHealth program accounts for more than a third of total spending in the budget. The $13.5 billion appropriation provides funding for 345,000 individuals newly eligible for Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

Dempsey’s budget proposal also significantly makes $339 million in cuts to “maintenance spending,” the details of which will become clearer later Wednesday when the full budget document is released and scrutinized.

After a late morning committee vote on the bill, Rep. Viriato deMacedo, the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, said he was withholding judgment until he had more time to review the document. The Plymouth Republican said he was briefed just about 30 minutes before the committee vote, and the five Republicans on the committee present for the vote reserved their rights.

“Obviously some of the issues that I think are very important are the realities of addressing the issue of substance abuse. I think we all bipartisanly agree we have to spend more resources in that area. It’s an epidemic, so we agree with that,” deMacedo said. He also said he was glad to see no new taxes and a smaller bottom line that the governor’s budget proposal.

The full budget was posted online before noon at: https://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2015/House

With increased attention being paid to the rising epidemic of opioid abuse, DeLeo said the House budget would increase funding for the First Responder program to help communities with higher overdoes rates to equip paramedics and others with Narcan, which can reverse the effects of an overdose.

Gov. Patrick’s effort to ban the prescribing of a new powerful painkiller Zohydro has been challenged in court and was looked upon unfavorably Tuesday by a federal judge, but the House budget also zeroes in on prescription drugs. According to summary, it proposes to allow the commissioner of public health to limit the distribution of certain prescription opioids that lack certain abuse deterrent qualities consistent with federal law.

The Ways and Means budget would also increase the maximum prison sentence for trafficking heroin from 20 years to 30 years, pilot new drug diversion programs, and add 64 treatment beds to reduce the number of addicts diverted to correctional facilities.

A $2.7 million investment in specialty courts will enable the Trial Court to fund five drug courts, two mental health courts and one veterans’ court, according to House officials. Gov. Patrick also included the investment in specialty courts. Trial Court Administrator Harry Spence hopes to double specialty courts to 50 over the next three years.

“Many times you’ll find that substance abuse and mental illness go hand in hand. This budget, I think, reflects that,” DeLeo said.

The budget also again rejects Patrick’s proposal to close Taunton State Hospital, providing enough funding to keep it open with 45 beds. Patrick has argued that the money would be better spent in community-based settings after shifting patients to a new hospital in Worcester.

To address lapses at the Department of Children and Families that most notably contributed to the disappearance of a five-year-old boy in Fitchburg, DeLeo said his budget committed the resources necessary to hire 100 new employees to keep caseloads to 15 per case worker with no more than 28 children under their supervision.

The budget recommends a new licensing requirement for DCF social workers and adopts recommendations made by the Inspector General and others strengthening background checks of social workers and hiring medical officers at each regional office to ensure that children receive medical screenings within 72 hours.

With roughly $68 million in increased spending on higher education, Dempsey said the House budget beats Gov. Patrick’s proposal by $3 million in funding for the University of Massachusetts, which he said should be enough to freeze tuition and fees for the second straight year. DeLeo and Dempsey both said they were working with state and community college leaders to similarly freeze tuition and fees rates, but DeLeo said their success could be “uneven” across all three systems.

The House is also proposing a $7.5 million increase in spending on early childhood education and care that leaders say will reduce the waiting list for services by adding 1,250 new child care slots. The investment is about half of what Patrick proposed spending, which the governor said would add 1,700 seats. Early Education and Care Commissioner Tom Weber said in January that the state had a waiting list of 25,000 infants, toddlers and pre-schoolers under 5.

Calling the ongoing problem of homeless “challenging” and “frustration,” Dempsey said the budget proposal would increase funding for rental vouchers by $3 million boosting the total investment to create 1,200 new vouchers while preserving this year’s shelter expansion.

Now that the Gaming Commission has awarded a license to Penn National for a slot parlor at Plainridge Racecourse, the Ways and Means budget assumes $20 million in revenues from the last quarter of fiscal 2015 from gambling activity at the facility, as well as $53 million in licensing fees from at least two casino licenses that could be awarded later this year.

Though the Gaming Commission has slowed down the licensing process for an eastern Massachusetts casino as it considers Boston’s request to be treated as a host community for the proposed casino in Revere, Dempsey said the state should be able to backfill any revenues that don’t immediately materialize from the general fund.

The governor’s budget assumed similar new revenue from gaming activities.

-END-
04/09/2014

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http://www.statehousenews.com

MMA says state to provide pothole repair $

This notice from the Massachusetts Municipal Association this morning-

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

PATRICK ADMINISTRATION TO PROVIDE CITIES AND TOWNS WITH $30 MILLION FOR POTHOLE AND WINTER RECOVERY EFFORTS

$30 MILLION IN ONE-TIME AID TO BE AVAILABLE AND ALLOCATED THROUGH CHAPTER 90 FORMULA

In one hour, Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey will officially announce that Governor Patrick has established a $40 million “Pothole and Winter Recovery Program” that will provide cities and towns with $30 million in funding this spring to repair potholes and other damage to roads, signs, facilities and equipment caused by the punishing winter. The remaining $10 million will be used by the state Highway Division for similar repairs to state roads.

Secretary Davey will make the announcement at a press conference in Dorchester, joined by MMA President and Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas, Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan and other state and local officials.

According to MassDOT, this one-time program is funded through anticipated surpluses in the state’s fiscal 2014 capital spending plan, caused by “the delay in the passage of transportation bond bill.”

The $30 million for cities and towns will be allocated to municipalities using the Chapter 90 formula. The program will allow municipalities to implement “repairs of potholes, cracking, signage, guardrail or other damage,” as well as “repairs to municipal vehicles or transportation facilities (e.g. garages, fueling stations)” or “projects identified through written agreement between MassDOT and a municipality.”

MassDOT officials have outlined the following details: 1) the program will be implemented this month, with all qualifying work completed by September of 2014; 2) the department will issue one-time contracts with municipalities allowing them to draw down their share of the $30 million for the specific purpose of road and facility repairs; and 3) these contracts will include a “use it or lose it” clause to ensure that the funds are obligated for specific projects prior to the end of this fiscal year on June 30 and that funds are spend and projects completed by next September.

Cities and towns will be receiving official notification and information of this program within the next several days.

This year’s harsh winter has damaged local roads, generated countless potholes and placed a huge burden on local taxpayers as municipal leaders work to shore up their crumbling roadways. Communities will put these funds to immediate use rebuilding and repairing roads, equipment and facilities in every corner of Massachusetts, which will save money, help our economy and improve public safety.

This is very good news for cities and towns, and the MMA applauds Governor Patrick, Secretary Davey and MassDOT for this important program!

 

We’re number 21

DOR’s e-newsletter today provided information on the taxes paid by all cities  and towns, 2011 versus 2014.

Municipality 2011              Average Value 2014            Average Value Pct. Change Value 2011        Single Family Tax Bill 2014        Single Family Tax Bill Pct. Change Bill 2011    Hi-Lo Rank 2011        Tax Rate 2014    Hi-Lo Rank 2014        Tax Rate Three Year Avg % Chg Bill
MEDFIELD 564,396 569,616 0.92% 8,477 9,182 8.32% 22 15.02 21 16.12 2.77%

MMA on state budget

This alert this afternoon from the Massachusetts Municipal Association -

LEGISLATURE TO APPROVE $25M INCREASE FOR UGGA, BUT WOULD SET FISCAL 2015 CHAPTER 70 AT THE SAME LEVEL OFFERED IN THE GOVERNOR’S BUDGET

HOUSE VOTE EXPECTED TODAY (WED., MARCH 12) AND SENATE VOTE PLANNED FOR THURSDAY, MARCH 13

Legislative leaders in the House and Senate have agreed on a local aid resolution to set fiscal 2015 appropriation amounts for Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) and Chapter 70 school aid in advance of the full budget debate. House leaders unveiled the local aid resolution at a noon caucus today (Wednesday, March 12), with plans to pass it in the afternoon. The Senate is expected to vote on the resolution tomorrow (Thursday, March 13).

HOUSE & SENATE LEADERS EMBRACE $25 MILLION MORE FOR UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID – A 2.7% INCREASE

Based on the resolution offered by the House and Senate Ways & Means Committees, and the Speaker and Senate President, Unrestricted General Government Aid will increase by $25 million in the fiscal 2015 budget, a 2.7 percent increase for every city and town, bringing that account up to $945 million. This is good news for cities and towns, because the budget filed by the Governor would have level-funded municipal aid, and now local officials can count on an increase in unrestricted aid for next year.

Click HERE to see the Fiscal 2015 Unrestricted General Government Aid amount for your community in the House-Senate Local Aid Resolution, as provided to the MMA by the House Clerk’s Office

HOUSE & SENATE LEADERS WOULD SET CHAPTER 70 AT SAME LEVELS FILED IN THE GOVERNOR’S BUDGET

However, the resolution would fund Chapter 70 education aid at the same amount filed in the Governor’s original fiscal 2015 state budget, a $99.5 million increase above fiscal 2014 levels to bring Chapter 70 up to $4.5 billion. The plan would bring all cities and towns up to foundation levels, phase in the target share funding, and provide all communities with a minimum increase of $25 per student. Most cities, towns and regional school districts would only receive the minimum aid increase of $25 per student. The MMA will be asking legislators to provide a higher minimum aid increase when the full budget is debated later this spring, as the Chapter 70 amounts are not adequate to support current school programs, although the resolution being adopted by the Legislature would make it difficult for lawmakers to offer amendments to increase Chapter 70 from the floor of the House or Senate during budget debate.

FUNDING LEVELS FOR MANY OTHER ESSENTIAL MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL AID ACCOUNTS WILL BE CONSIDERED LATER THIS SPRING WHEN THE FULL FISCAL 2015 STATE BUDGET IS DEBATED

The local aid resolution does not include the remaining municipal and school aid reimbursement accounts, including the Special Education Circuit-Breaker, Charter School Reimbursements, Regional School Transportation, McKinney-Vento transportation of homeless students, Payments-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT), and Shannon Anti-Gang Grants. Funding for all of these essential programs will be debated during the traditional budget process, and the MMA will be pushing hard for significant increases and full funding for all of these key accounts.

PASSAGE OF A LOCAL AID RESOLUTION CLARIFIES LOCAL BUDGET PLANNING

Typically, the House debates the budget in April and the Senate passes its version in May, and both branches then reach final agreement on the entire budget in late June. Because this timing creates an extraordinary amount of uncertainty for cities and towns as local officials pass their own budgets, municipal leaders and the MMA have called on the Legislature to take early action to set minimum municipal aid and Chapter 70 levels in time to allow communities to make informed budget decisions. Passage of a local aid resolution makes it easier for communities to plan now instead of waiting until late summer.

PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS TODAY

The MMA urges all local leaders to contact their Representatives and Senators and tell them what the local aid resolution would mean for each city and town. Please discuss the need to provide a higher Chapter 70 minimum aid increase when the full budget is debated, and the importance of full funding for all of the other essential municipal and school accounts when the budget advances in each chamber, including Charter School Reimbursements, the Special Education Circuit-Breaker, Regional School Transportation, McKinney-Vento Reimbursements, PILOT, Shannon Anti-Gang Grants, and more.