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Friday, April 17, 2015

HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE OFFERS $38B FY 2016 STATE BUDGET THAT MAKES KEY INVESTMENTS IN MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL AID

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

 HOUSE BUDGET COMMITTEE OFFERS $38B FY 2016 STATE BUDGET THAT MAKES KEY INVESTMENTS IN MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL AID
  • INCLUDES THE FULL $34M INCREASE IN UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID (UGGA)
• ADDS $8.3M TO SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER
• RESTORES $5M TO REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION
• RESTORES $18.6 MILLION TO KINDERGARTEN DEVELOPMENT GRANTS
• INCREASES CHAPTER 70 MINIMUM AID TO $25 PER STUDENT
• LEVEL-FUNDS MOST OTHER MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL ACCOUNTS

Earlier this afternoon, the House Ways and Means Committee reported out a lean $38 billion fiscal 2016 state budget plan to increase overall state expenditures by 2.8 percent, as the state seeks to close a projected $1.8 billion structural budget deficit by restraining spending and eliminating 4,500 state jobs through an early retirement program. The House Ways and Means budget is $100 million smaller than the budget filed by Governor Baker in March.  The full House will debate the fiscal 2016 state budget during the week of April 27.

H. 3400, the House Ways and Means budget, provides strong progress on many important local aid priorities, including the full $34 million increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid that the Governor proposed and communities are counting on. The House W&M Committee would increase funding for several major aid programs, by adding $8.3 million to the Special Education Circuit Breaker, restoring $18.6 million to Kindergarten Development Grants, restoring $5 million to Regional School Transportation, and increasing Chapter 70 minimum aid from $20 to $25 per student.

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO SEE THE UNRESTRICTED GENERAL GOVERNMENT AID AND CHAPTER 70 AID AMOUNTS FOR YOUR COMMUNITY AS PROPOSED IN THE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS COMMITTEE BUDGET [ http://www.mma.org/images/stories/NewsArticlePDFs/local_aid_finance/house_ways_means_section3_fy16.pdf ]

 $34 MILLION INCREASE IN UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID
In a major victory for cities and towns, H. 3400 (the HW&M fiscal 2016 budget plan) would provide $979.8 million for UGGA, a $34 million increase over current funding – the same increase proposed by Governor Baker.  The $34 million would increase UGGA funding by 3.6 percent, which is 75 percent of the projected 4.8 percent increase in state tax collections next year.  This would be the largest increase in discretionary municipal aid in nearly a decade.  Every city and town would see their UGGA funding increase by 3.6 percent.

 $8.3 MILLION INCREASE INTENDED TO FULLY FUND SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER
In another victory for cities and towns, House leaders have announced that they support full funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker program.  Their budget plan would provide $261.7 million, an $8.3 million increase above fiscal 2015, with the intention of fully funding the account.  This is a vital program that every city, town and school district relies on to fund state-mandated services.

 RESTORES $5 MILLION TO REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION
Last November, former Gov. Patrick used his 9C budget powers to eliminate the $18.7 million increase regional school transportation reimbursements that the Legislature originally enacted for fiscal 2015, reducing the final amount to $51.5 million.  The Governor proposed level funding at $51.5 million.  Recognizing the importance of this funding, the House Ways and Means Committee budget would restore $5 million to bring regional transportation reimbursements up to $56.5 million.  The MMA will work to continue building on this welcome increase.

 RESTORES $18.6 MILLION TO KINDERGARTEN DEVELOPMENT GRANTS
The House Ways & Means budget would restore $18.6 million to the Kindergarten Development Grant program.  The Governor’s budget would have eliminated all funding, and House leaders want to level fund the current appropriation, at least for the next year.  This is an important account, because eliminating the $18.6 million would have jeopardized expanded kindergarten programs all throughout the state.

 CHAPTER 70 MINIMUM AID WOULD INCREASE TO $25 PER STUDENT
The House budget committee is proposing a $108.2 million increase in Chapter 70 education aid, with a provision providing every city, town and school district an increase of at least $25 per student.  This is $2.9 million more than the recommendation in the Governor’s budget submission.  The budget would continue to implement the target share provisions enacted in 2007.  Because most cities and towns only receive minimum aid (245 operating districts in cities, towns and regions would only receive minimum aid), the MMA will work to build on this progress and will continue to advocate for higher funding.

 McKINNEY-VENTO REIMBURSEMENTS WOULD INCREASE BY $1 MILLION
The House Ways and Means Committee budget would add $1 million to increase reimbursements for the transportation of homeless students to $8.4 million, the same funding level proposed in the Governor’s budget.  While the account remains below the full reimbursement called for under the state’s unfunded mandate law, it would be the first increase since fiscal 2013.

 CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS 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 and 2014, but is underfunding reimbursements by approximately $34 million this year.  Both the Governor and the House Ways and Means budgets would level-fund charter school reimbursements at $76.8 million, which would guarantee another major shortfall in fiscal 2016, and result in cutbacks for the majority of students who remain in the traditional school setting.  Increasing this account will be a top priority during the budget debate.

 PAYMENTS-IN-LIEU-OF-TAXES (PILOT), LIBRARY AID ACCOUNTS, METCO, AND SHANNON ANTI-GANG GRANTS
The House budget committee’s proposal would level fund PILOT payments at $26.77 million, continue to fund library grant programs at $18.5 million, and restore funding for METCO to $19.1 million.  All three of these accounts are funded the same in both the Governor and House Ways and Means budgets.  However, the HW&M budget would reduce Shannon Anti-Gang Grants to $5 million, a $2 million reduction.

Please Call Your Representatives Today to Thank Them for the Strong Local Aid Investments in the House Ways and Means Committee Budget – Including the $34 Million Increase in Unrestricted Local Aid, Funding for the Special Education Circuit Breaker, Restoring Kindergarten Grants, and Adding Funds to Regional School Transportation

Please Explain How the House Ways and Means Budget Impacts Your Community, and Ask Your Representatives to Build on this Progress with Further Increases for Charter School Reimbursements, Chapter 70 Minimum Aid, Regional School Transportation and Other Key Accounts

 Thank You!

Chief Administrative Officer Job Opening

The City is seeking applicants for the Chief Administrative Officer position (formerly Director of Policy and Administration).  This position is responsible for coordinating daily operations, has a wide variety of other administrative duties, and reports directly to the Mayor.  Interested candidates should submit a cover letter, resume, and three professional references by May 1, 2015.  The job posting and job description are below.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Interim School Committee Member Sought - Letters of Interest Due May 4

Mike Luekens informed the School Committee late last week of his resignation effective immediately due to his imminent relocation for a new job.  We are asking anyone who is interested in filling this open seat on the School Committee to submit a resume and cover letter to the City Clerk’s Office by Monday May 4, 2015 at 4PM. 
Per the City Charter, the City Council President has convened a joint meeting of the City Council and School Committee presided over by the Mayor to review applicants – this meeting will take place in the City Hall Auditorium on Monday May 11th at 6PM.  Applicants will be given an opportunity at this meeting to present their credentials to the joint body for their consideration.
The individual selected by the City Council and School Committee will fill the position for the remainder of this calendar year.  If s/he wants to continue to serve on the School Committee beyond this interim period, s/he will then have to run for election this coming fall for the new term starting in January 2016.

Friday, April 10, 2015

LEGISLATURE ENACTS $200M CH. 90 BOND BILL

LEGISLATURE ENACTS $200M CH. 90 BOND BILL
 GOVERNOR’S SIGNATURE EXPECTED ALMOST IMMEDIATELY
 Cities and Towns Now Have a Total of $330M Available for 2015 Construction Season



This afternoon, the House and Senate both enacted a one-year, $200 million Chapter 90 bond bill, which gives cities and towns access to a total of $330 million to repair and maintain local roads during the 2015 spring-to-fall construction season.

The Chapter 90 bond bill for fiscal 2016 was filed by Gov. Charlie Baker on March 12 and was passed unanimously by the House and Senate on March 25 and April 1, respectively. The Massachusetts Constitution, however, requires a two-thirds vote of each branch to enact all bond bills, which necessitated the votes cast today.

The Governor is expected to sign the bill immediately.

The funding will be combined with $100 million in new Chapter 90 authorizations that the Governor released in January, as well as the $30 million fund announced last month to help cities and towns repair potholes and other winter damage. Municipalities look forward to putting the money to work to repair local roads that took a beating during an historic winter.

The MMA applauds the Baker Administration and all members of the Legislature for moving swiftly on this critical funding bill. This year more than ever, cities and towns need to be able to get to work early in the construction season.

The Chapter 90 local road and bridge program provides cities and towns with a source of funding to maintain, repair and rebuild 30,000 miles of local roads in every corner of the state. Adequate and timely funding for Chapter 90 is essential for public safety, economic growth, and quality of life in Massachusetts.

With the state working to erase a $1 billion mid-year budget deficit in fiscal 2015 and a $1.8 billion structural budget gap for fiscal 2016, the Baker-Polito Administration decided to file a one-year Chapter 90 bond bill. Now that it has been enacted, the MMA and local officials will work in partnership with the Governor and legislators to achieve long-range funding for Chapter 90 that is both adequate for cities and towns and sustainable for the Commonwealth.

Crow Lane Landfill Update — April 8, 2015


This update is being provided by MassDEP concerning the closure activities that are currently underway at the Crow Lane Landfill.

In addition to this email update, correspondence and reports are posted on the MassDEP Northeast Region website at:  http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/massdep/about/contacts/crow-lane-landfill-newburyport-monitoring-reports-data.html.  Please send your questions, comments and suggestions to: crowlane.information@massmail.state.ma.us

Status of Work at Landfill and Related Closure Certification Material

On April 3, 2015, the Superior Court issued a Notice of Scheduled Appearance, ordering the parties to appear before the Court on June 15, 2015 at 2:00 p.m. for a conference to review the status of the matter. 

On November 5, 2014, the Court had issued an Order that required specific work to be done at the Landfill as well as the submittal of additional information to support the closure certification.  A copy of the Order has previously been posted on the MassDEP Northeast Region website and can be found there (see link above).  As requested by the Superior Court Judge, the Order was jointly proposed by the Commonwealth and New Ventures. 

In November 2014, the Court indicated that New Ventures and the Commonwealth should attend a status conference in the Superior Court in mid-April 2015.  In light of the fact that additional work is to be conducted, and in the interest of judicial economy, the status conference has been scheduled for June 15, 2015.

MassDEP Oversight

MassDEP and/or personnel from MassDEP’s consultant (Shaw Environmental Inc.) continue to monitor the landfill on a regular basis.  MassDEP and/or Shaw personnel are scheduled to be at the Landfill several times per week. 

Real-time emails to the Crow Lane Information mailbox regarding any perceived odors or issues at or near the Landfill may allow us to deploy inspectors real-time, and are much appreciated.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Superintendent to Present FY16 School Budget Monday Night

A message from the Office of the Superintendent of Schools:

On Monday, April 6, 2015, the Superintendent will present the FY16 School Budget to the School Committee at 6:30 PM in Room 118, at Newburyport High School.

The Superintendent would appreciate your presence and input on the budget presentation.

We hope that you can be there!

Susan L. Viccaro
Superintendent of Schools