Local communities to receive earmarks through state spending bill

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Ducts and other HVAC equipment sit on the exterior of Shrewsbury High School. The school district as a whole is receiving $50,000 for additional HVAC upgrades through a new state spending package. (Photos/Jesse Kucewicz)

REGION – The region will receive nearly $3 million in investments through a $4 billion spending bill that Gov. Charlie Baker signed into law on Monday.

The legislation combines roughly $1.45 billion in state surplus tax receipts with $2.55 billion in federal American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funding. It pays for large, state-wide projects, programs and initiatives, while also allocating $2.84 million in earmarks for projects and programs in area communities. 

“The final ARPA bill represents months of work, compromise, and advocacy from countless stakeholders, and I am very grateful to everyone who played a part in securing these massive investments for the benefit of the Commonwealth,” Rep. Hannah Kane said in a press release following the legislature’s passage of the spending bill earlier this month.

“I am glad that after such a long process we have now passed legislation that will make vital funds available for communities and individuals who have been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic,” Sen. Michael Moore said in that same joint statement.

Local communities receive earmarks

Shrewsbury 

Kane secured $75,000 to support efforts to establish a food bank “and related programs” in Shrewsbury, according to that press release. She also secured $50,000 for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning upgrades at Shrewsbury Public Schools.

Moore added $205,000 for Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services. That money will support short term crisis and treatment planning for those on waitlists for high level care. It will also fund partnerships to identify and provide case management for families in need. 

Westborough

The Westborough house delegation of Carolyn Dykema, Hannah Kane and Danielle Gregoire helped the Westborough Food Pantry get $25,000. 

“This legislation lays the framework for broad public health and economic recovery, particularly targeting communities that have faced extensive public health and financial impacts from the pandemic,” Dykema said of the then bill as a whole on Dec. 3.

Marlborough

Gregoire noted in a press release that she also helped secure $190,000 for new online permitting software in Marlborough and $200,000 for infrastructure upgrades to allow greater broadband access, also in Marlborough. 

Southborough

The New England Center for Children in Southborough will get $1 million to offset unreimbursed COVID-19 expenditures thanks to the work of Dykema and Gregoire, who both noted their advocacy on that matter in recent statements

Dykema, whose district includes Southborough and part of Westborough, celebrated the Center for Children earmark in addition to a $100,000 payment to help Southborough upgrade heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment in public buildings. 

Dykema also worked with Sen. Jamie Eldridge to get $70,000 to repair a collapsed culvert under Northborough Road in Southborough.  

“Southborough has had previous difficulties with this culvert and has attempted lower cost temporary solutions, which unfortunately haven’t been successful,” Eldridge said in a press release. “This funding will ensure that the culvert can be repaired immediately, and should provide a permanent solution to this vexing problem.  

Hudson

Eldridge shared a separate statement this month noting a $50,000 earmark for the planned purchase and renovation of the old Hudson Armory as a new community arts center. 

“Repurposing the Armory as a community arts center will be a marvelous addition to an already ascending Town of Hudson, and a wonderful resource for the entire community,” he said. “I am proud that this funding was allocated to revitalize the arts in Hudson.”

Rep. Kate Hogan, meanwhile, has celebrated $650,000 in other earmarks for Hudson, including $400,000 for the ongoing Assabet riverwalk project.

A $50,000 payment will help the MetroWest Regional Transit Authority support “microtransit vehicles” providing in-town transportation in Hudson. That service will connect to existing fixed MWRTA bus routes in Marlborough for Saturday service. 

The Hudson Food Pantry will split a $100,000 allocation with Open Table Inc. in Maynard and the Stow Food Pantry, while Fresh Start Furniture Bank in Hudson will also get $100,000.

Grafton

In Grafton, $125,000 will pay for security upgrades in schools. The schools are also getting an extra $100,000 to fund their own heating and ventilation upgrades. 

Rep. David Muradian noted his work to secure that heating and ventilation funding in a press release circulated back in November after the House of Representatives passed its version of this bill. 

Signing caps ‘long process’

Outside of local earmarks, this new law allocates millions to health care, housing and infrastructure initiatives, among other things. 

Baker’s administration had filed its own legislation in June in an attempt to quickly generate a plan to dole out money that ARPA allocated to Massachusetts. 

Both houses of the legislature eventually finalized their own spending bills before reconciling them and sending the package to Baker on Dec. 3. 

Baker signed the majority of the bill into law on Monday, though he vetoed a handful of provisions that he said would have delayed the distribution of these funds.

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