EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 24, 2013

MMA calls for early local aid resolution for fiscal year

State House News Service
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — BOSTON - Gov. Deval Patrick will present his final annual budget proposal next month, and the Massachusetts Municipal Association is looking for an increase in unrestricted local aid for cities and towns as well a an early agreement between House and Senate lawmakers on a local aid floor for fiscal 2015.

In a letter to Patrick last Friday, MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith asked for a local aid increase of $39.6 million to $47.8 million, corresponding to the Department of Revenue’s projected range of revenue increases next year between 4. 2 percent and 5.2 percent.

“Despite a tightly capped property tax due to Proposition 2 1/2, municipalities are more reliant on the property tax to fund essential services than at any time in the past 30 years. Adequate funding for municipal and education aid is necessary in order for cities and towns to provide the basic local and school services that the residents of Massachusetts deserve and expect, and to mitigate today’s overreliance on the most regressive of the major revenue sources in the state, the property tax,” Beckwith wrote.

The last time the Legislature approved an early local aid resolution was in April 2011.

The MMA is also looking for increases in state funding above fiscal 2014 levels for regional school transportation and homeless student transportation reimbursement. “This would avoid the very difficult budget challenges that occurred last year for regional school districts and member cities and towns when required local contributions were not finalized until mid-July,” Beckwith said. The MMA is also looking for increases in state funding above fiscal 2014 levels for regional school transportation and homeless student transportation reimbursement.