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State Senate OKs money for Opioid Task Force, Mahar dam repair

The state Senate’s budget proposal, approved this week, contains $100,000 for repairs to the dam at Mahar Regional School in Orange and $100,000 for the Franklin County Opioid Task Force.

“I am pleased that my Senate colleagues have agreed that these are important and worthwhile investments for Franklin County,” state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg said Friday.

The Franklin County Opioid Task Force was also funded at $100,000 in the House of Representatives’ budget. The local volunteer group is seeking ways to combat the rising incidence of drug addiction in the county.

Funding for the Mahar dam was not included in the House of Representatives’ budget, so it will be subject to change when the House-Senate conference committee reconciles the two versions.

School officials in recent months have been debating whether to try repairing the aging dam or to dismantle it.

Rosenberg added that the Senate budget also prioritizes local aid and provides the second half of 50/50 funding for the University of Massachusetts.

The Senate budget included $4.4 billion for Chapter 70 school funding, $99.5 million over the current fiscal year. Additionally, the budget contains $40 million for the University of Massachusetts to meet the operating increase needed to reach 50/50 funding.

Other items that Rosenberg helped secure by amendment in the Senate’s budget include:

∎ Franklin Regional Council of Governments Retirement — The Senate budget contains language to transfer employees of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments to the Massachusetts State Employees Retirement System. Transferring these employees is projected to save the 26 towns and 71,000 residents served by the FRCOG an estimated $388,000 next fiscal year. This is not included in House budget.

∎ North Quabbin Regional Tourism, $50,000 (same as House).

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