SHIRLEY -- The fall Special Town Meeting set for Monday, Nov. 18, at 7:15 p.m. in the Ayer-Shirley Middle School auditorium. The only two articles on the warrant seek to apportion new revenue received since the fiscal year closed June 30 to the Capital Stabilization Fund and General Stabilization Fund.
Until recently, the selectmen hoped to have the town's anticipated MCI prison mitigation money in that pot, adding a healthy infusion of cash to split between the two nest eggs. The estimated payment was in the vicinity of $90,000.
Earlier this year, the prospect looked promising. Now, apparently, it's back in limbo,
Once a yearly handout the town of Shirley and other prison-hosting communities could count on, in part, to help pay for infrastructure improvements and public safety services impacted by state prisons, mitigation funding is based on inmate population. It's funneled to designated municipalities via the Department of Correction.
In recent years, however, it has been an iffy proposition that hinges on whether the DOC retains the money in its own budget instead of passing it along. But it's still an issue and selectmen have continued to fight for it.
At the board's previous meeting, Town Administrator Patrice Garvin said she'd been in contact with state Rep. Jen Benson's office and was hopeful the MCI money might come through in time for the STM.
Monday night, however, Selectman David Swain said it would not. Even though state revenues are up substantially from last year, and despite Benson and Sen. Jamie Eldridge reportedly stumping for the cause, it's receipt is unlikely.
Frustrated when the anticipated funding was waylaid a couple of years ago, selectmen hoped to find a direct route for the MCI money. They suggested that instead of earmarking the funds, a state budget line item could be created for municipal prison mitigation funding, bypassing the DOC. But Eldridge and Benson held out little or no hope for that option.
Now, it looks like there's little hope for the MCI money coming in this year and none at all that it will be part of the revenue town officials plan to bankroll at the STM.