NEWBURYPORT — House and Senate legislators stamped their approval Monday on a new $34 million state budget that will bring nearly $2 million in state funds to the region should Gov. Deval Patrick issue his final approval within the next week.
Notably, the budget would allocate $300,000 for sand harvesting and other repairs to be made at Salisbury Beach State Reservation, which suffered significant beach erosion over the winter, along with $1 million for directed patrols by the state police along the beach during the busy summer season.
“We were able to obtain funding for all of our budget priorities in the district,” said Rep. Michael Costello, D-Newburyport.
In addition to the beach repairs and police patrols, Costello and Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, also announced that the budget includes $400,000 for the operation of the Newburyport Shellfish and Purification Plant on Plum Island, $90,000 for the Newburyport-based C-10 Research and Education Foundation, $20,000 for Amesbury-based Our Neighbors’ Table, and funds for phragmites mitigation from Gloucester to Salisbury. These are expenses that local lawmakers annually include in the budget.
Obtaining funds for Salisbury Beach was a particularly important priority for state legislators after a run of powerful winter storms devastated the beach and left several areas severely eroded. Costello and O’Connor Ives each said restoring Salisbury Beach and funding additional patrols would help it maintain its status as a major tourist attraction and a powerful economic engine for the region.
The state will also increase the surcharge for camping and parking at Salisbury Beach State Reservation from $2 to $3. Costello said that based on receipts from recent years, the fee increase will bring in an additional $75,000 to $90,000 to the Salisbury Preservation Trust Fund. That means day use fees will rise to $10, and overnight camping fees to $18 for Massachusetts residents.
“This money is critical to maintain and enhance Salisbury Beach for future generations,” Costello said.