I am getting increasingly concerned about the lack of commitment from the current Governor and administration regarding the integrity of financial support to our cities and towns. “Local Aid” has not been a platform item high on the list of priorities for Martha Coakley and Steven Grossman either.
But for Charlie Baker it is.
Charlie recognizes that the quality of our lives is directly affected by the level of funding received by the state to help our municipalities meet their obligations which are mandated by numerous federal and state laws. The responsibility to adequately fund our municipal services depends on a delicate balance of revenue generation, local taxation of residents and a large component remains funds directly received from the state.
In recent years, local aid has been waning as priorities have shifted elsewhere; largely in the area of social programs. The most insidious and silent threat is the continuing trend towards level-funding of cities and town. If you level fund something that has increasing costs, eventually it will become underfunded. This is a fundamental reality and smaller communities, especially, such as the one in which I serve on the Board of Selectmen - in Groveland, are bearing the brunt of this. Ultimately, we will be forced to increase taxes and fund more projects with debt, all of which increases burdens to local citizens.
Charlie’s focused approach is to eliminate cuts altogether and to tie increases in the state revenues by transferring the same level of increases to local aid. This is only fair. Additionally, he wants to release the $100 million in Chapter 90 money for road repairs that was promised in 2013. Finally, his approach is to streamline the budget process to find efficiencies that are earmarked to help our cities and towns , not new, mandated and unfunded liabilities.
The silence of the Governor and the other candidates on this issue speak volumes of their intent. With an improving economy the opportunities to finance social engineering schemes will increase to the detriment of our municipalities.
Voters of all party affiliations or un-enrolled should be concerned about this.