North Adams would get $750K bailout under Senate budget


NORTH ADAMS -- The city would receive a one-time, $750,000 shot in the arm under a preliminary budget measure adopted late Thursday, according to state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield.

The emergency municipal budget relief measure was passed less than 24 hours after Mayor Richard Alcombright proposed a fiscal 2015 spending plan that closed a $620,000 budget deficit through increases in taxes, water, and sewer fees, combined with cuts to the Public Works and Police departments.

And it comes less than two months after the abrupt closing of North Adams Regional Hospital, which rocked the Northern Berkshire community and caused more than 500 layoffs.

"I am extremely grateful that my colleagues in the Senate supported the Northern Berkshire community by adopting these proposals, which are intended to help the city ‘get back on its feet' and invest in proven regional service providers," Downing said in a prepared release.

The funding is part of a proposed $36.2 billion state budget for fiscal 2015, which begins July 1. Though approved by the Senate, the spending must be authorized by a conference committee that will adopt the Legislature's final budget and pass it along to Gov. Deval Patrick for signing.

The measure was among a number of funding initiatives approved for North Adams and its community organizations, Downing said in the release, including $460,000 to continue BerkshireRides, $100,000 to support the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, and $75,000 for the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' Gallery 51.

It's unclear how the funding would impact the mayor's fiscal 2015 budget proposal. The senator's statement does not specify if the municipal aid will be unrestricted.

Alcombright declined to comment on the funding on Friday, saying that he will wait until it is finalized by the Legislature and governor.

City officials met with state leaders, including Downing and Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, earlier this month to request an injection of funding in the face of what appeared to be a nearly $1 million deficit.

The Senate also has approved measures that would allow the city to utilize special reserve accounts to balance its fiscal 2014 budget. Those proposals will likely be taken up by the House of Representatives next week.

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