IPSWICH — As an overflow crowd at Town Meeting waited to vote on a $2.75 million Proposition 21/2 override, last night — which easily passed just before press time — state Rep. Brad Hill, R-Ipswich, arrived to announce good news regarding the impact of state finances on the town’s money woes.
“I’ve very happy to report, due to excess (state) revenue ... we’re able to look at local aid in a better way,” he said. The better way translates into increased aid in several areas, he said.
Boosts in Chapter 70 money, dedicated to schools, mean that Ipswich will gain $3 million, he said, adding, “I’ve been very concerned ... in regards to the way we send the Chapter 70 money back (to the towns).” He said that initially, the state Department of Education was expected to maintain a balanced approach. But over the years, that seems to have fallen by the wayside.
“The pendulum has changed (in favor of) the cities,” he said. To deal with that, he’s working in concert with Rep. Lori Ehrlich, D-Marblehead, to see that towns like Ipswich get a fair share of the funding.
In addition, Hill referenced the special education circuit breaker, which protects municipalities from runaway costs in dealing with students needing special education. Funding will now be raised to 75 percent, he said.
General aid has also been increased by $25 million across the state, Hill said. That translates into $1.4 million for Ipswich.
“On something that is very important that I have heard a lot from you about: potholes,” Hill said. He noted that the Legislature will fund Chapter 90 money for highways to the tune of $300 million. Of that $444,000 would be earmarked for Ipswich, “to look into those potholes.” Hill noted that he’d worked closely with the selectmen and the school board in fighting for increased funding.