AGAWAM – Gov. Charlie Baker rolled out his proposed budget for the 2016 fiscal year, and local aid across the state saw a boost for the upcoming year. Agawam was not exempt from the bump, receiving a projected $232,357 in additional funds.
Baker’s proposed budget gives Agawam $18.9 million in state aid for public schools through Chapter 70. With charter tuition reimbursement and school choice receiving tuition, Agawam’s education budget from the state works out to $19,369,407, an increase of $77,187 from the 2015 budget.
In unrestricted government aid, the town saw an increase of $155,170, with a new budget of $3,762,988.
While the Baker’s budget is still a long way from being finalized – it must pass through the House, the Senate, the Conference Committee and then back to the governor’s office – Mayor Richard Cohen said that he was grateful for the preliminary numbers.
“I appreciate the increase numbers and that the government is holding us harmless with an increase we have never seen before,” Cohen said. “I’m just very thankful for an increase as opposed to a cut and I hope it continues through the rest of the process.”
Baker’s proposed budget included a $38.062 billion increase to towns and cities, which will “allow our economy to grow, strengthen our schools and build healthy communities across the Commonwealth.”
For Agawam, this means less money that the town has to raise from property taxes, according to Cohen. While Cohen said that this budget increase is welcome, it is still years behind the numbers the town used to receive.
“This increase still has us a decade or more behind what we used to get. Of course, the city’s budgets, its needs and expenses go up, as does everybody else’s,” Cohen said. “I sure do appreciate it. It’s certainly better than a cut.”
In addition to the recommended increase in local aid funding, Agawam’s local assessments were decreased by $26,891. The assessments, or the money that the town pays the state, are taken up front by the Commonwealth.