Selectman Gaumer said the Greenbush Line is “a living memorial to a $400 million expenditure that doesn’t do anything.”
Senator Bob Hedlund and Representative Garrett Bradley met with selectmen over State House budget projections at selectmen’s March 4 meeting.
Bradley said the good news was that there are no new fees and no new taxes and that the local aid stabilization fund is $1 billion ahead in anticipated revenue. But. Revenue is down.The bulk of the budget won’t be finalized until the end of July, as opposed to the usual date of July 1.
“I’m not painting a rosy picture,” Hedlund said, protecting a declining number in state aid for Cohasset but an increase in Chapter 70 money (Chapter 70 money is earmarked for underperforming school districts with shortfalls). He added that while Charter Schools were growing, they were being significantly underfunded.
“We see an increase of $5 billion in the state budget over 5 years and yet we see unrestricted local aid accounts diminishing.” He also noted that the Quinn Bill had been eliminated (the Quinn Bill was a police career incentive pay program in which communities paid officers so much for degrees earned.)
The lottery did very well last year, making over $20 million over anticipated revenues. Hedlund would like the entire $20 million to be put into local aid, but said it would probably not go there. “The partnership between municipal government and the state has been broken for years, now.”
Chapter 90 funding has been increased from $200 million to $300 million. But the governor has refused to release the additional $100 to for commuters, instead wishing to put funds to a Fall River/New Bedford Rail restoration.
There is movement in FEMA and flood insurance. A community rating system is in progress, Hedlund thinks there could be as much as $350,000 savings on premiums.
Hedlund said the Senate budget would be dealt with before Memorial Day.
Selectman Steve Gaumer asked about the possibility of obtaining weekend train service I the area. Hedlund said it was costing the state $25 million a year to subsidize the Greenbush line. Hedlund added that he thought the Fall River train ridership figures were suspect.
Bradley said funding services for the Fall River / New Bedford train is at the conceptual stage. “It depends upon who the net governor is.” He added that while public transportation will never make a profit, the idea being to move people to a financial center, and “That’s not the case where Fall River is going. It’s not assessing Boston.” He said it was likely the Fall River project might not be started until after Governor Deval Patrick’s term.
“I don’t know too many young professionals who want to take a lengthy train ride everyday,” Hedlund said.
Bradley said OPEB and community health care cost bills were in their salad days, sitting in committee.
While Gjesteby said it would be nice to have weekend train service for ballgames, etc., Hedlune said ridership data available shows that weekend ridership is not there. He added that the parking system for the train was archaic, discouraging use. “You can’t park a car at any station for a few days.”
Although Gaumer noted that boat ridership was standing room only, Bradley said schedules had been cut on both the train and the boats.
Gaumer countered that the train was “a living memorial to a $400 million expenditure that doesn’t do anything.”© Copyright 2014 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed