By Michele Morgan Bolton, Globe Correspondent
The Massachusetts School Building Authority has agreed to kick in more than half of the $28 million cost of renovating and expanding Norfolk County Agricultural High School, a facelift officials hope would help raise interest and enrollment at the 93-year-old institution in Walpole and shorten its waiting list of would-be students.
“We still have to work out some details, but the MSBA is prepared to reimburse up to $15.3 million for the renovation and addition project,’’ said Katherine Craven, the building authority’s executive director.
Separately, officials in Maynard and Medway will ask voters this fall at Town Meeting and at the polls to approve raising taxes for two school building projects, after both communities received promises of state help to pay for them last week.
On Wednesday, the Massachusetts School Building Authority voted to contribute $23.8 million for a new secondary school in Maynard, and $10.6 million for repairs to Medway Middle School. The funds will cover about half of each project, and it’s up to the towns to come up with the rest.
In case of the agricultural school in Walpole, meanwhile, the funding the agency has agreed to provide will be used to build a 33,000-square-foot animal science center to house the school’s most popular program and to cover major renovations to a circa 1920 annex building that hosts its agricultural mechanics program.
Also included in the overall project for the agricultural school are seven new classrooms, space for student guidance and special education needs, and upgrades to windows, floors, the security system, technology, and the electrical and heating system on the bucolic, 300-acre campus, officials said.
By Christine Legere, Globe Correspondent | June 3, 2010
Ten communities south of Boston have adopted a local meals tax since last year, adding 75 cents to a $100 dinner bill and raising millions for yearly budgets, unexpected expenses, and capital projects.
Of those 10, Raynham, Easton, Norton, and Dedham adopted the option early enough to have already reaped benefits. Other towns on the list include Milton, Stoughton, Walpole, Hingham, Quincy, and Bridgewater.
They are among 78 communities statewide that have enacted the local option tax, netting $11.3 million across Massachusetts.
The state Legislature established the local meals tax option last summer and left it to communities to decide whether to adopt it. The .75 percent tax generated is turned over to the state — along with the 6.25 percent tax the state charges on meals — then distributed back to the cities and towns in quarterly payments.
So how are business owners being affected by this new burden? Most are saying the impact is negligible.
Legislative leaders told cities and towns yesterday to brace for a cut of up to 4 percent in local aid next year, a combined hit of up to $200 million to the money communities rely on to balance budgets and keep teachers, police officers, and firefighters employed.
The announcement by House and Senate leaders could mean further layoffs and service cuts across the state starting this summer, and it sets up a political fight with Governor Deval Patrick, who sought to avoid those cuts in the budget plan he released in January.
Lawmakers say Patrick’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2011 draws too heavily on federal stimulus money and rainy-day savings. Patrick also proposed raising taxes on candy, soft drinks, and tobacco, a plan House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo and Senate President Therese Murray have said they oppose.