Use this search box to find articles that have run in our newspapers over the last several years.

Agawam City Council formally opposes statewide cuts to local aid

Date: 12/19/2014

AGAWAM – In a unanimous vote, the Agawam City Council supported the resolution to oppose mid-year cuts to unrestricted general aid on Dec. 15, a move that stands against slashed funding that could affect public services.

Councilor George Bitzas brought the resolution in front of the council after Gov. Deval Patrick announced in November that $329 million needed to be cut from the state budget and that this would come strictly from mid-year cuts.

Patrick made mid-year budget cuts in 2013 that eliminated $28.75 million from municipal and school aid accounts, “which left cities and towns reeling from unexpected revenue losses,” according to the resolution.

The resolution brought to the table was a step to prevent a similar financial shock in Agawam for the 2015 fiscal year. Bitzas and the council effectively made a stand that funding to schools and local government agencies are necessary for day-to-day functions, and reducing these budgets would devastate any town in the Commonwealth.    

“We will send a strong message to our state representative officials in Boston … I hope that we are being proactive and not inactive to send a message that we are opposing those cuts,” Bitzas said.

The resolution was drawn from the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA), which urged local governments to oppose proposals to cut funding to municipal or education aid. An email alert from the MMA that was included in Bitzas’ resolution packet suggested that local governments should not take the brunt of the cuts, “especially since the shortfall is in no way related to local government or the overall performance of the economy.”

Agawam has already set its 2015 fiscal year budget, so the proposed cuts to Massachusetts local aid, a total of $25.5 million statewide, would “destabilize local budgets in the middle of the fiscal year, and force reduction in community service,” said the resolution.   

Now that it has been passed, the resolution to oppose the cuts will be forwarded along to Patrick and other state officials, including state Rep. Nick Boldyga, state Sen. Donald Humason.