Recently, my colleagues and I passed the House budget for fiscal year 2017 (FY17). I am thrilled to share that this budget includes record funding for our district!
I thank my colleagues in the House for supporting my efforts to pass these appropriations for Stoneham and Winchester. With their support, I won approval for the funding of specific projects that would benefit us directly.
I successfully secured a direct appropriation of $50,000 for the town of Winchester; this funding would enable the town to build on work it has recently undertaken to revitalize and reshape Winchester’s historic town center by studying, planning and designing the restoration of the Aberjona Riverbank, which includes Mill Pond and Wedge Pond. Winchester residents have committed a considerable amount of their own resources and tax dollars towards efforts to mitigate flooding, remediate environmental contamination and re-zone the downtown area in order to bring greater economic development and recreational opportunities to our community. This $50,000 in funds will help to catapult the process to the next level.
In addition, I carried an amendment that would provide Stoneham with $15,000 in funds dedicated to modernizing the Stoneham Fire Department’s sanitizing equipment, and a separate $9,000 that will enable the town to utilize a matching grant to complete restoration on the Town Hall’s historic organ.
In my conversations with Chief Grafton and our firefighters in the Stoneham Fire Department, it became clear to me that their current uniform and equipment sanitizing machines, which are 20 years old, are not properly removing the carcinogens from their gear after fighting fires. This $15,000 for new machinery is essential to address the avoidable, long-term health risks our first responders face.
Separately, $9,000 of approved funding will enable us to complete the restoration of Stoneham Town Hall’s historic town organ by utilizing the Eastern Massachusetts Chapter of the American Theatre Organ Society’s Matching Grant Program. Our Town Hall organ is familiar to all residents who attend Town Meeting. We already know it as one of the best sounding theatre organs in New England, but it has needed maintenance and repair work for some time. The funds approved in the House Budget would finish repairs on the chamber and main console and remove harmful asbestos from the organ’s mechanics.
Augmenting these specific appropriations, the FY17 House budget includes record levels of local aid funding for both towns—including $3,971,684 in Chapter 70 education funding and $3,573,444 in unrestricted local aid for Stoneham, and $7,924,363 in Chapter 70 education funding, and $1,422,626 in unrestricted local aid for Winchester.
I am happy with the work we have done in the House budget, particularly with the direct assistance coming back to our community. This budget reflects my commitment to provide our towns with increased state assistance and financial flexibility, and I appreciate the willingness of House leadership to engage and work with me towards that commitment.