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Level-funded local aid pledge met with hope

February 01, 2010
Area officials are cautiously optimistic about Gov. Deval Patrick's proposed local aid figures.

"It would be great if the local aid is level funded," said Sturbridge Selectmen Chairman Mary Blanchard. "All the cities and towns are hoping what he is planning does come to fruition."

Patrick last week, as part of his overall state budget, proposal, would level fund for regular local aid, Chapter 70 education money and regional school transportation. Overall, the $28.2 billion budget includes $800 million in cuts and limits spending increase to 3 percent compared to the previous year's budget. The state was facing a $2.7 billion budget gap.

While local officials laud Patrick, they remain somewhat skeptical as to whether his proposals will become reality. With the budget now set to go to lawmakers for possible changes, Blanchard, whose town would receive $2,363,162 in general aid, excluding school district figures, said a speaker at the Massachusetts Municipal Association meeting recently said that level funding "was kind of a dream of the governor." That is because it relies on federal economic stimulus dollars the state has not yet received, she said. After hearing that, Blanchard said the town's Finance Director, Barbara Barry, is creating the town's budget with a forecasted 10 percent cut.

See Tuesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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