Mid-year state aid cuts gall selectmen

Nov 28, 2014 by

SELECTMEN’S NOTEBOOK

By MARK SARDELLA

WAKEFIELD — The Board of Selectmen is not happy with Gov. Deval Patrick’s plan to balance the state budget on the backs of cities and towns and this week sent strongly worded letters to all three of the town’s state legislators urging them to reject the governor’s plan for mid-year cuts to municipal aid.

The Nov. 24, 2014 letter, signed by all seven members of the board, was sent to Sen. Jason Lewis, Rep. Paul Brodeur and Rep. Donald Wong.

“Last week, Governor Patrick imposed immediate mid-year cuts to close a $329 million state budget deficit that was disclosed two weeks ago,” the letter states. “The Governor’s budget cuts would hurt both the town of Wakefield and Wakefield public schools and, most importantly, the taxpayers and citizens of Wakefield through a combination of potential reduction in services coupled with potentially higher water and sewer bills. This proposed reduction halfway through the fiscal year is especially galling due to the fact that the state is flush with a rainy day fund of over $1.2 billion.

“These cuts are designed to shift the state’s fiscal problems onto communities in the middle of the fiscal year,” the selectmen’s letter continues. “By slashing education funds that have been promised to reimburse Wakefield for the cost of Special Education programs, charter schools and the transportation of students, our school department will be forced to shift resources from programs vital to meeting the educational challenges of the 21st century in order to cover costs which are statutorily placed upon Wakefield and other municipalities. To remove promised money in this manner is unfair.

“Additionally, the Governor has asked the Legislature to cut an additional $25.5 million from Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), the major municipal aid account that was previously cut by $400 million during the recent recession. Wakefield, like most cities and towns, relies on Unrestricted Aid to supplement the local tax levy and receipts in providing vital services to our citizens. This reduction in Wakefield could quite simply result in our reducing our public safety responses to our citizens or lead to further reduction in the support of education. Frankly, this destabilization of our budget is unacceptable, particularly where we have relied on the full amount pledged by the state Legislature during the budget process (as promised in the local aid resolution passed earlier this year). Therefore, we respectfully and urgently ask you to reject the Governor’s proposed municipal aid cut.”

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In other business this week, the Board of Selectmen:

Denied a request from Clarion Inn Lakeside to extend their liquor license until 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day.

Approved a request from Jane Fanjoy of the Wakefield Lions Club for their annual event of the arrival of Santa Claus by fire engine on Saturday, Dec. 13. The board also granted the Lions Club permission to locate Santa’s workshop on Veterans Memorial Common near the corner of Church and Common streets. Santa’s workshop will be open to the public Dec. 13 through 23.

Voted to advertise a position on the Wakefield Retirement Board. The position is currently held by Daniel C. Calore, whose term expires on Dec. 31, 2014. The selectmen advertise all committee appointments and re-appointments.

Denied a request from Maria Demoura Donald for a Class II used car dealer’s license.

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