NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 28, 2013

Selectmen give Mirra, O'Connor Ives an earful Board members highly critical of state's unfunded mandates

MERRIMAC — Merrimac’s newly elected state representatives listened to complaints Monday night about unfunded mandates imposed by the state.

“The smaller towns are really suffering because of level funding,” said Rep. Lenny Mirra, R-West Newbury, who was immediately hit with complaints about the many unfunded mandates being steadily imposed on Massachusetts communities by the Democratic administration of Gov. Deval Patrick.

“Here’s one thing you can do for Merrimac,” said an emphatic chairman of the board, Earl Baumgardner. “Get rid of all these unfunded mandates that are riding on the backs of the taxpayers.”

Selectman Laura Mailman also chimed in with a complaint about the so-called “formula grant,” which the state dispenses for the benefit of the community’s senior citizens.

“People are living longer and healthier lives, and we’re providing transportation, facilities, educational courses and physical fitness classes for our baby boomers who are getting into their 80s and 90s,” she said. “Yet, all the state gives us to conduct all of these programs is just $7 per senior per year, and the amount of the annual grant doesn’t change for 10 years.”

Since Merrimac’s population of senior citizens — which the state classifies as anyone age 60 or over — is 1,232, the town’s formula grant is $8,624 for the year.

“It’s a well-spent dollar,” said Mailman, as she continued criticizing the plethora of unfunded mandates raining down on financially strapped Massachusetts cities and towns. She made her angriest attack against the state-mandated ethics test, which must be taken by town employees every two years.

“They’re treating us like children by making us take the ethics test every two years,” she said, “when once is enough.”

Mailman added that the test takes 45 to 60 minutes, noting that “the cost of administering it is real.” She added that people’s ethics don’t change, especially not within a two-year period, so she believes the test is a waste of time and money.

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