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Northborough Asks Beacon Hill, We Need an Increase in Road Repair and Special Ed Funds

The town administration, committees and boards have drafted a letter to share with legislators. They call it a list of priorities.

The town of Northborough has drafted a letter that will be sent, soon, to Governor Deval Patrick that outlines the priorities it has. To streamline and focus its efforts, the town implemented this approach four years ago.

The letter acts as a bridge to the local legislators, which the town will meet with to discuss the priorities. Though some of the members of the Board of Selectmen are critical that the legislators listen and act upon the requests, Town Administrator John Coderre said the process has had better effects at a town level in turning up the volume on the voice of Northborough.

The letter, which begins, "I respectfully request your support for several legislative reform initiatives, outlined in the attached, that could prove invaluable to cities and towns struggling to control costs during these difficult financial times."

The top priority, this year, is to restore Circuit-Breaking funding. The funding, which provides reimbursements to school districts for mandated special education services, at the proposed FY2013 budget would level-fund the account at the same level as FY2012. "Although a portion of the cuts in Circuit Breaker funding has been restored, the reimbursement that is currently in place still does not adequately reimburse districts for mandated services."

Northborough, too, asks for the reauthorization of Chapter 90 funds as its second priority. The Chapter 90 program funds the repair and maintenance of local roadwork. Last year, Chapter 90 distribution was increased from $150 million to $200, but it fell short of the requested $300 million. Based on research and extensive surveys of municipalities, says the letter, the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) estimates that the actual need is at least $300 million, as "cities and towns maintain 90 percent of the roadways in Massachusetts."

In Northborough alone, in the four-year period of 2007 to 2010, the town received an average of $363,000 per year for repair and maintainance of roads (which cover 93 miles). In April 2011, it was increased from $102,362 to $469,731, but the increase "was not sufficient to meet the backlog and is partially offset by rising labor and material costs."

The remaining priorities on the list focus on: departmental revolving funds, capital project fund, insurance proceeds from public safety IOD claims, modernize procurement and public construction fees, impact/mitigation fees, amend Community Preservation Act and ambulance billing.

The Board of Selectmen will meet with local legislators to discuss the priorities at an upcoming board meeting. The priority list, too, will be available on the town's website when it is finalized.

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