SOUTHWICK – When state Rep. Nicholas A. Boldyga and state Sen. John C. Velis met with the Southwick Select Board this week, they were asked to tell it like it is when it comes to the state budget and what Southwick could expect.
“What can you actually get us this year?” asked Selectman Joseph Deedy Feb. 1 during a Zoom meeting.
Boldyga and Velis both said this year’s budget would be tight and COVID-19 driven.
Selectman Russell Fox asked whether a John Deere tractor for $200,000 and other needs to the tune of a million dollars would be at all reasonable.
“The last budget cycle I saw mostly line items in the $25,000 range,” Boldyga said. “I don’t see there being any $200,000 or $1 million line items in the FY2022 budget.”
Velis said that any COVID related earmarks would outweigh other items, which was the case with the FY2021 budget which just passed in December.
“In FY21 there had to be a nexus between the earmark and COVID,” said Velis.
Velis said COVID is “an added challenge” to the budget and he wanted the board to tell him what they need.
“Let’s pick a date when we can all get together and you tell us the projects you need and get into brass tacks,” Velis said.
Boldyga thanked the board for inviting him and Velis to a meeting and said they were “happy to sit down” to discuss specific needs.
Velis said one of his favorite things as a senator is to meet with local leaders.
“If it was up to me, I’d do this more frequently,” he said and then encouraged calls, emails and texts from board members.
Boldyga mentioned several concerns he has received from constituents, including unemployment fraud. He said he wants to work to create “real reforms,” and Boldyga said he wants to see businesses open. He compared Massachusetts to other states, including New Jersey, where its Six Flags remained open while the Agawam Six Flags had to shut down.
Velis said there were “a number of examples of businesses being decimated” during the pandemic.
Velis admitted that getting funds for municipalities and businesses right now is difficult.
“The earmarks are not coming as easily,” he said. “I want to hear what you want, and we will fight like hell to get it.”
Velis, Boldyga and Select Board Chair Douglas Moglin agreed to communicate after the meeting and meet soon to discuss the needs of the town.
“I will follow up with you,” Moglin promised.