SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

January 28, 2013

Governor promises local aid increases

Proposed budget could give Danvers more than $9M

Although it’s the first step in a long process, Gov. Deval Patrick’s budget proposal carries good news for Danvers and other North Shore communities, including increases to local aid.

Much of the increase in local aid is driven by a $226 million increase in Chapter 70, or education aid, funding.

According to a press release from the governor’s office, the budget “will hold every district harmless for aid, keep every district at foundation levels of spending, finish the Chapter 70 equity reforms of 2007, guarantee an increase of $25 per pupil for every district, calculate out-of-district special education at $35,000 per year ... and eliminate the cap of pre-kindergartners included in enrollment for Chapter 70.”

If the governor’s budget is approved, local aid to cities and towns will grow 5 percent to $5.57 billion, which represents 14.6 percent of the state’s $34.8 billion spending plan.

Unrestricted aid to cities and towns will increase $31 million from the original fiscal 2013 budget to $930 million. The state will use a new formula to dole out the money.

Under the governor’s budget, Danvers could reap nearly $9.37 million in local aid, a 14.3 percent increase above this fiscal year, said state Rep. Ted Speliotis, D-Danvers. Other North Shore cities and towns and regional school districts would also see increases.

Swampscott would see the most dramatic increase, a nearly 19.2 percent jump in local aid. Marblehead would get nearly $1 million more and a 17.2 percent increase. Ipswich is in line to get a 12.8 percent hike. Peabody would see a 1.5 percent increase, Beverly 6.4 percent and Salem 3.2 percent.

If the governor’s budget passes as is, it would boost local aid to Danvers above levels not seen since fiscal 2009, when a round of midyear budget cuts reduced aid to cities and towns across the commonwealth.

“I think it’s a really good starting point,” Speliotis said, “but there is so much uncertainty in the budget this year ... and we could wind up level-funded this year.”

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