The Winchendon Courier
Serving the community since 1878 ~ A By Light Unseen Media publication
Week of May 21 to May 28, 2020

Senate Passes Legislation Authorizing Short-Term Borrowing During Historic Remote Session

(BOSTON – 05/15/2020) Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer) and the Massachusetts State Senate convened Thursday for the first-ever remote session in the history of the body to pass legislation to allow short-term borrowing to meet the Commonwealth’s financial obligations.

When asked about the passage of the legislation Senator Gobi commented, “During this stressful time it is necessary that we do all we can to assist in finding stability and financial assistance is one way we can do that. I will continue to work with and for my district as we get through together.”

“I am proud of the Senate’s ability to meet the challenges of this public health pandemic and humbled by the historic nature through which today’s vote was taken.” Senate President Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland). “The legislation that advanced today will help the Commonwealth responsibly meet near-term budget challenges as we continue to address the impacts of COVID-19. I’d like to thank Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues as well my colleagues for their bipartisan support of this legislation.”

The legislation, An Act to Facilitate the Delay of the Income Tax Filing Deadline, complements legislative action taken in early April to extend the income tax filing deadline to July 15, 2020, which provided flexibility to residents and families across the state amid the COVID-19 State of Emergency. The extension mirrors actions taken on the federal level.

To ensure budgetary stability, the bill allows the treasurer to borrow during Fiscal Year 2020 to meet financial obligations that would normally be fulfilled through income tax filings.

The bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

Audit Calls on UMass Building Authority to Ensure Workers Receive Prevailing Wage

Boston, MA – In an audit released today, State Auditor Suzanne M. Bump found the University of Massachusetts Building Authority (UMBA) could not verify that employees of contractors who worked on public projects were paid the appropriate prevailing wage. The audit, which examined the period of July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2018, also looked at UMBA’s processes for reviewing and approving capital projects, monitoring payments and change orders, and completion and closeout of contracts and found no deficiencies in these areas.

Nearly half of the employee payroll records reviewed by Bump’s office (1,608 out of 3,344) had job classifications for contractor employees that did not match the Division of Labor Standards’ (DLS) prevailing wage rate sheets, making it impossible to determine whether these employees were paid the appropriate prevailing wage. Of the remaining employees reviewed by Bump’s office, approximately 5 percent (90 employees) were paid less than the required prevailing wage.

“The UMass Building Authority is responsible for ensuring employees working on its public projects are paid fairly and accurately. While many of the areas we examined showed no deficiencies, it’s clear the authority must establish better employee payroll monitoring processes. Failure to do so will mean some workers could be short-changed when working on public projects,” Bump said of the audit.

The Massachusetts Prevailing Wage Law for public works projects requires contractors to pay the prevailing wage. Prevailing wages are the minimum hourly rates set by DLS for job classifications. UMBA contracts with owner’s project managers (OPMs) to maintain and monitor records of compliance with the Prevailing Wage Law.

The audit calls on UMBA to establish a payroll policy that includes a documented process for its OPMs to follow to effectively detect, investigate, and (if necessary) report any contractors who may not be complying with the state’s prevailing wage law. The audit recommends UMBA establish monitoring controls to ensure that its OPMs consistently adhere to the established process.

UMBA is an independent public body responsible for overseeing public works construction projects on the University of Massachusetts’ five campuses (Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, Lowell, and the Worcester Medical School). The UMBA board of directors consists of 11 members appointed by the Governor. During the audit period, UMBA had 83 projects in various stages of construction, on which it spent approximately $614 million.

The full audit report is available here.

Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area Launches 19th Amendment Commemoration Countdown: 100 Years, 100 Days, 100 Facts

This year the Freedom's Way National Heritage Area committed, for the first time, to a unified, thematic presentation of our programs. Using the Centennial Anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment as a focus, we set out to tell how this story unfolded across our 45 communities of our Heritage Area placing that story within the context of the national movement.

While much of what we planned has been put on hold, we are excited to launch the 19th Amendment Commemoration Countdown: 100 Years, 100 Days, 100 Facts. Each day, beginning May 19th until August 26th, learn something new about the more than seventy-year struggle to assure women the right to vote.

This is a collaborative effort. Many of the facts have been researched and contributed by historical societies and partner organizations within our communities.

“When we undertook this initiative, we hoped to discover little-known stories. We never expected to find so many women who made a difference in their community—and the nation,” said Patrice Todisco, Executive Director. “We invite the community at large to share information we may have missed. Please send it to us and we'll do our best to include it.”

Follow the 19th Amendment Commemoration Countdown on Social Media: Instagram: @freedomswayheritage Facebook: @FreedomsWayNHA Twitter: @FreedomsWayNHA

We invite you to explore (and expand!) this collection of facts using #100Years100Days100Facts Learn more about our work by visiting our website: