Letter to Gov. Patrick
The East Longmeadow Board of Selectmen, like officials across the Commonwealth, is grappling with serious budgetary pressures. These pressures will only be exacerbated by any cuts you may consider should you seek and gain legislative approval to wield expanded 9C authority. The Board of Selectmen respectfully urges you not to use such authority to the detriment of our communities.
In a letter to you dated Oct. 15, 2009 from Geoffrey C. Beckwith, MMA Executive Director, Mr. Beckwith cited how dramatic the cuts have already been:
"This year's local aid was slashed by $724 million below original fiscal 2009 levels, including a $516 million reduction in vital Cherry Sheet aid programs (these cuts have hit municipal aid, Chapter 70, school transportation, police career incentive payments and other major accounts), and another $208 million from key reimbursement and grant initiatives (cutting education, public safety, environmental and other programs). After adjusting for inflation, local aid in fiscal 2010 is $1.3 billion below fiscal 2002 levels."
The Board of Selectmen believes that further cuts will have serious negative consequences on the vital services that local government provides. While we fully acknowledge that the budgetary pressures at the state level, and appreciate the difficult measures your administration has implemented, and will continue to implement, the Board asks that you consider several options as listed by Mr. Beckwith to alleviate pressures at the local level, namely:
"1) Empowering cities and towns to modernize their health insurance plans outside of collective bargaining;
"2) Reforming and fixing the Quinn Bill to stop a major new unfunded mandate on communities;
"3) Ending the $25 million telecommunications property tax loophole on equipment;
"4) Fixing the flaws in charter school funding that harm school districts all across the state; and
"5) Extending pension funding schedules to avoid an unaffordable spike in pension costs due to the recession-driven decline in system assets."
The Board of Selectmen and the citizens of East Longmeadow appreciate that we are living in negative economic times of near historic proportions. Continued sacrifice and innovation must be our approach to help us struggle through this crisis. We remain optimistic that the futures of Massachusetts and the town of East Longmeadow are bright, with better days ahead. We ask only that the burden of getting to those brighter days not fall inordinately on local government.
Selectmen Jack Villamaino, Chair; James D. Driscoll; and Paul L. Federici