The state handed out $2.25 million in grants Tuesday to 161 cities and towns with plans to regionalize services. In its second year, the Community Innovation Challenge grant program was slashed nearly in half in this year's budget after Gov. Deval Patrick announced midyear spending cuts to solve a projected $540 million budget gap.
Last year the state awarded $4 million in regionalization grants. Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray said the Patrick administration is committed to fund the grants again, despite making cuts, because it saves the state money in the long run. "This is something that pays dividends. It is going to save the state ultimately money. It is certainly going to save cities and towns. It is all about being more efficient, doing more with less. And we think there are lots of opportunities to continue to do that, and that is a good investment." Administration and Finance Secretary Glen Shor said during a presentation at the State House the money gives "new tools, new resources to cities and towns to drive change."
The 27 grants range from $24,500 to $120,000, and regionalize services in education, public safety, transportation, public health, public works and environmental affairs, information technology, housing and veterans' services.
Schools in Agawam, East Longmeadow, Longmeadow, Ludlow and West Springfield plan to use $110,800 to create district programs for students with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. The Manchester-Essex Regional School District will expand regional services for students with dyslexia with its $73,000 grant.
The towns of Orleans, Chatham, Truro, Harwich, Yarmouth, Dennis, Wellfleet, Provincetown, Brewster, Barnstable and Nantucket were awarded $50,000 for a Cape Cod Great White Shark Research and Outreach program.
The Franklin Regional Council of Goverments, which includes Greenfield, Northampton, Athol, Amherst and Montague, will use $81,288 for the Northwestern district anti-crime task force