Monday, March 2, 2009

GOP Lawmakers File Municipal Aid Legislation

House Minority Leader Brad Jones filed legislation today that will aid municipalities with their strained budgets. House and Senate Republicans are co-sponsors of this timely legislation as areas in the Commonwealth respond to yet another major snow storm.

The legislation, An Act Relative to Aiding Cities and Towns with Unfunded Obligations Associated with Snow and Ice Control, will allow cities and towns to use state-appropriated roadway improvements funds, known as Chapter 90 funds, to offset their snow removal budget. This winter’s above average snowfall, coupled with the rising cost of de-icing materials, has forced many cities and towns to deficit spend their snow and ice budget.

“Cash-strapped cities and towns across the Commonwealth are being forced to make difficult decisions to balance their budgets and the passage of this legislation would provide communities with a small measure of relief that is certainly much needed,” said Representative Jones.

Currently, state law permits a municipality to deficit spend for snow and ice removal provided that the town’s governing body approves expenditures in excess of the appropriated amount; however, the community must make up the deficit from other available funds. Under this legislation, communities can decide whether or not to adopt this provision and this option is only available for the current fiscal year.

The Commonwealth has authorized $150 million in Chapter 90 funds in Fiscal Year 2009 and while some of that money has already been spent by cities and towns, there is approximately $90 million left to be provided to communities.

Click here to see a story that recently aired on NECN highlighting why legislation like this is so necessary.