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State Aid to Wakefield Up $223k in House Budget Figures

Wakefield's aid is projected to be up by $223k for Fiscal Year 2013, according to the latest budget figures from the House Ways and Means Committee.

Wakefield could receive almost a quarter of a million more in total state funding for Fiscal Year 2013 than it received in Fiscal Year 2012, according to the latest budget numbers released by the Massachusetts House Ways and Means Committee.

The latest budget numbers call for $8.14 million in local state aid, an increase of $327k over last year. However, the budget also calls for an increase in taxes to Wakefield to the tune of $1.46 million, an $100k increase.

School Funding Level
Under the House Ways and Means Committee version of the budget, more funding is allocated for public education in Wakefield. Chapter 70 funding will rise to $4.93 million, up from $4.79 million, according to the latest numbers. However, charter school tuition reimbursement was decreased by $14,000, and funds for school lunches have decreased by $98. School transportation also remains level-funded from last year, with no help from the state.

Funding Increases and Decreases
In the wake of last year's cut in general government aid to the town, it's good news that funding to Wakefield for unrestricted government aid is projected to rise for Fiscal Year 2013, up to $2.84 million from $2.64 million.

Wakefield will also receive $10,000 more this year for veteran's benefits, compared to last year.

However, some other areas of funding will be cut, including $9,877 in exemptions for veterans, the blind, surviving spouses, and elderly, and $322 for public libraries.

Taxes againt Wakefield

The two largest projected tax increases are a $38,644 charge for Essex County Tech Sending Tuition and a $20,549 charge for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA). 

Local reaction
Town Administrator Steve Maio said he was "very happy" to see an increase in the state's aid to Wakefield's schools.

"I've been railing about Chapter 70 for a while, and while I did notice that while Wakefield's Chapter 70 went up a little bit, the Chapter 70 for Reading and Melrose did not," he said. "So I think it was great that the legislature, at least the House, decided to put this extra money towards communities that didn't get a bump in the original budget."

The estimate by the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee is a second step in the yearly budget process, and is not final. The Senate will also release a budget, and the final budget must still be approved by the state legislature before coming into effect.

Governor Deval Patrick has already released , which cut overall state aid to Wakefield by $100k.

Town Administrator Maio said although the current numbers are up for Wakefield, he's still budgeting conservatively.

"This is just one step in the process, because we don't know what the Senate is going to do, and we don't know what the Governor is ultimately going to do," said Maio. "If more money comes in later that's great, but I don't want to be scrambling to make it up later."

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