HANSON — Town officials were awarded a $34,280.75 CARES Act check from Plymouth County Commissioners on Thursday, Oct. 14 during a brief ceremony at Hanson Town Hall.
It was the first of what state Rep. Josh Cutler, D-Pembroke, described as the first of several checks the town stands to receive as reimbursement for COVID-19-related expenses this year, including personal protective equipment (PPE) for first responders, town government and school personnel.
“It’s been a challenging year, but we’re doing everything we can to lighten that burden,” Cutler said.
Cutler also credited the Hanson Board of Selectmen, represented at the check-awarding ceremony by Selectman Matt Dyer, and Town Administrator John Stanbrook for their work, which will bring more checks to Hanson.
“In these times when it doesn’t seem that politics works, this shows it does work and we can come together — and we can come serve our constituents — to better serve them, not here in Town Hall, but all throughout the town and all throughout the region,” Dyer said, thanking the town’s partners on the Plymouth County Commissioners and on Beacon Hill. He said the funds awarded also will go toward town infrastructure such as new servers so town employees could work from home, if another shut-down made that necessary.
Dyer also thanked town officials, who have worked overtime to get the applications completed properly. County officials have been presenting the initial checks to communities in-person across the county, O’Brien said after the ceremony.
“It’s a nice day for us to see the sweat equity pay off tangibly,” said Plymouth County Commissioner Gregory M. Hanley said, thanking Hanson officials for turning in such an easy application to process. “The only delay we would have would be an incomplete application.”
Hanley said taking on the administration of the CARES Act was not an easy one for commissioners to make. The $3 trillion federal aid package known as the Cares Act was passed in March.
“There’s a lot of sentiment very high up that we shouldn’t take this money, but we knew that we had an educated workforce and we had the only certified county treasurer in the Commonwealth,” he said. “We were trying to help the governor at the time and take a little bit off his plate.”
Hanley also thanked Cutler for helping with the process while the Commissioners were receiving pressure from the executive branch as to their ability to do it.
“If it wasn’t for Josh Cutler, we wouldn’t have this program,” Hanley said. “This was not an easy decision, but aren’t we so glad to have pulled this off? It’s such a resounding success.”
He said no one knew how to deal with the pandemic, but Plymouth County has “delivered the goods” for its member communities.
“This doesn’t happen unless we have that partnership we need,” Plymouth County Treasurer Thomas J. O’Brien said of the county’s legislative delegation, including Cutler and state Sen. Mike Brady, D-Brockton. “What was relayed to us is the county understands the needs of our community. This pandemic isn’t going to be short-lived, and we are the best resource to provide financial assistance to our communities.”
O’Brien echoed Hanley’s assessment that Cutler is a leader on Beacon Hill who understands what communities need and has the county’s back as Commissioners try to help communities deal with the pandemic and other financial challenges.
“I can tell you, as someone who sits on the Ways & Means Committee, if we had sent all that money back to the state, we would not have seen it come back from the State House,” Cutler said. “It’s the right decision for Plymouth County, for the town of Hanson, for the towns that I represent.”
O’Brien and Commissioner Sandra M. Wright also presented town officials with a framed print of an updated map of Plymouth County, including newer railroad tracks and highways.
“This could be a dress rehearsal for the HEROES Act,” Hanley said after the ceremony of the next round of funding the federal government is considering to being lost tax revenue, due to the pandemic, back to states and potentially to communities.
Cutler said the funds brought back to the region through the CARES Act includes $400,000 for remote learning and PPE expenses for the Whitman-Hanson Regional School District.
“We’re doing everything we can to get as many dollars [as possible] back to our cities and towns,” he said. Current state budget shortfall estimates are between $1billion and $5 billion, Cutler said, noting that while a lot of money, it is significantly lower than the $6 billion to $8 billion deficit previously forecast.
He expects to see another one-month temporary budget passed before the state’s budget figures are finalized to complete the fiscal year.