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Chapter 90 money only affords Band-Aids for infrastructure

Date: 5/5/2009

By Katelyn Gendron

Reminder Assistant Editor

WESTFIELD -- The city will be able to afford some Band-Aids for its deteriorating infrastructure during fiscal year 2010 (FY10) but not much else, according to city officials.

Westfield will receive $889,902 from the state's Chapter 90 account; an allocation which is based the city's total road miles, population and jobs. Mayor Michael Boulanger explained that the lengthy list of needed road repairs coupled with the increasing cost of materials will exhaust the allocation.

"The problem is that our streets are in such disrepair that this money won't go very far," he said.

Boulanger added that road repairs have been prioritized by each Ward City Councilor including Lois Street, Colony Drive, Crescent Circle, King Street, Feeding Hills Road and North Road.

"It's not as much [money] as we would have liked but it's as much as we're going to get," State Rep. Donald Humason Jr. said, adding that there are no other sources of revenue for infrastructure at this time.

"It's a sad reality of these economic times," he said of the decreasing state aid. "[This allocation] is an allegory for the economy: it's going to be bumpy."

State Sen. Michael Knapik noted that the Chapter 90 account will remain at $150 million for the third consecutive year, a byproduct of the 2008 Transportation Bond Bill.

"I'm hoping that [Westfield] will find this form of state aid helpful this year," he said. "While most local aid accounts are threatened with substantial cuts, I am pleased the Patrick Administration has held the line on the Chapter 90 program this year."

Humason said the allocation comes at "an opportune time" in the city's budget process, giving Westfield a bump in dependable resources.

Boulanger said that the Chapter 90 money does help the overall FY10 budget but not enough. He called the next fiscal budget "a worse case situation."

Boulanger said he will deliver the city's FY10 budget and plans for the Chapter 90 funds to the City Council at its next meeting on May 7.