Category Archives: Massachusetts Municipal Association

MMA cell antennae alert

This today from the Massachusetts Municipal Association -


June 16, 2014

LOCAL ZONING THREATENED BY WIRELESS TELECOM INDUSTRY BILLS

BILLS WOULD STRIP CITIES AND TOWNS OF CONTROL OVER WIRELESS FACILITIES

HOUSE ADOPTS LAST-MINUTE INDUSTRY AMENDMENT IN ECON. DEV. BILL

SENATE BILL 2183 MOVES OUT OF COMMITTEE

PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY TO STOP THIS TAKE-OVER

The telecommunications industry is moving quickly to fast-track legislation to pre-empt virtually all municipal zoning or control over the siting of wireless antennas and equipment in Massachusetts.

These powerful companies are determined to pass a state law that would allow them to place wireless antennas and equipment on any building or structure in any location in any community, and override all zoning and any local provision or condition to protect neighborhoods and the public from unsightly and intrusive antennas.

The legislation has surfaced late in the session, and is advancing quickly through both the House and Senate. Local officials must contact their Senators and Representatives today to stop this effort to trample municipal control.

The Telecom Industry is Pursuing Two Routes

 • The Legislature’s Economic Development Bill. Last week, by a voice vote, House members attached this industry-written language to the House’s economic development bill (Sections 74 and 75 of H. 4181), which was passed by the House of Representatives and is now before the Senate. Senate leaders have pledged to propose their own economic development bill, and it is certain that the wireless telecommunications companies will attempt to attach the same language to override local control.

 • S. 2183 – “An Act Upgrading Mobile Broadband Coverage in the Commonwealth.” This stand-alone bill with language identical to Sections 74 and 75 of the House economic development bill has also been sent from the Committee on Telecommunications and Energy, and is now before the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The bill could advance at any moment.

Local officials must call their Senators immediately and tell them to oppose S. 2183 AND any attempt to pre-empt local control in the Senate’s economic development bill.

The Telecom Industry Bill Would Override All Local Decision-Making

S. 2183 and Sections 74 and 75 of the House economic development bill would allow telecommunications companies to “collocate” unlimited new antennas and equipment on any and all existing buildings and structures, regardless of the impact on neighborhoods or interference with public rights-of-ways.

The amendment would allow all wireless telecommunications companies to install or upgrade wireless antennas and equipment on any building or structure in Massachusetts. These structures could include commercial or residential buildings, water towers, cell towers and even homes – with NO effective local government authority to regulate. The telecom companies could ignore all municipal zoning provisions, ordinances and bylaws – including height limits, set-back requirements, or the ability to require aesthetic modifications to ensure the antennas and equipment blend in.

Municipalities would also have no recourse to ensure that unused or abandoned facilities must be removed in the future. The wireless telecommunications provider would only need to comply with the state building code, which is a very low technical standard.

The measure envisions no role for the general public, and fails to recognize that citizens have a right to basic zoning protections that guarantee accountability on the part of developers.

Under this proposal, in order to obtain a “collocation” permit, a mobile broadband provider would merely need to submit an application to the appropriate issuing authority in a municipality, and the city or town would have only 90 calendar days to review and act upon the “collocation” application, and could only reject applications that fail to meet the state building code. Under the language of the bill, telecom companies could start the “90 day shot-clock” by submitting incomplete applications, and have up to 45 days to complete their submissions, leaving cities and towns only 45 days to review a completed application.   If a municipality does not complete its review 90 days from the start of the “shot clock,” applicants could immediately go to court to compel the issuance of a license, short-circuiting the local process. This irresponsible provision would in no way benefit the community.

The cities and towns of the Commonwealth support expanding and upgrading wireless telecommunications services throughout the state for the benefit of consumers, but the expansion simply cannot come at the expense of the quality of life for residents.

Specific provisions of the bill include:

• No zoning ordinance or bylaw shall prohibit, regulate or restrict collocation of wireless facilities on existing structures in any way inconsistent with the industry legislation;

• The issuing authority of a city or town must grant approval of all applications for the “collocation” of wireless antennas and equipment on any existing building or structure (except utility poles), as long as the application complies with the state building code;

• Cities and towns must also approve all applications to expand existing stand-alone cell towers (including monopoles), unless the proposals would increase the height or width of the tower by 10 percent or 20 feet (whichever is more) – which means that the industry could take camouflaged antennas inside a monopole and attach a 20-foot wide antenna, and go up 20 feet, and communities would have no say;

• The issuing authority has only 90 days to approve the application – if cities and towns take longer than 90 days, then the telecom companies could immediately go to court, with approval virtually assured because the court’s only standard would be compliance with the state building code, and NO local bylaws, ordinances or zoning provisions would be allowed;

• Communities could NOT require companies to remove obsolete, abandoned or unused antennas and equipment; and

• Communities could not require a higher fee for reviewing an application than for other types of commercial applications, and fees for technical consulting would be capped at $1,000.

The FCC is Promulgating National Standards on Wireless Antenna Siting – But the Telecomm Industry is Working Feverishly to Win More Favorable Rules in Massachusetts

In 2012, Congress and the President enacted “The Spectrum Act” that will implement a nation-wide uniform process for the collocation of wireless antennas and equipment. At this moment, the FCC is promulgating final regulations that will govern the build-out of the wireless telecommunications network, and it is expected that the FCC will give industry its often-stated top goal of a time-limited expedited application process. The FCC’s rules are expected by September 2014.

Why is the telecom industry jumping to Massachusetts and other states to win a complete override of local zoning, when the FCC is on the verge of issuing its decision? The answer is clear: the FCC may give deference to local zoning rules, and allow cities and towns to act in the public interest. In particular, the FCC could allow municipalities to have zoning provisions, ordinances and bylaws on height limits, set-back requirements, or the ability to require aesthetic modifications to ensure the antennas and equipment blend in.

The Legislature should reject this fast-track attempt by the wireless industry to ignore the FCC process, and wait until the federal government issues its final rules later this year.

PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY AND ASK THEM TO OPPOSE ANY ATTEMPT TO PASS S. 2183 OR ANY AMENDMENT TO THE SENATE’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BILL THAT WOULD STRIP CITIES AND TOWNS OF THE ABILITY TO REGULATE WIRELESS ANTENNAS. THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD WAIT UNTIL THE FCC MAKES ITS FINAL RULING ON NATIONAL STANDARDS.

After you call your Senators, please call your Representatives and tell them that Sections 74 and 75 of the House economic development bill (H. 4181) would strip communities of any control over wireless antennas – ask for their commitment to stop this attempt by the telecom industry to build whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want.

THANK YOU!

 

MMA alert on House bills

Massachusets Municipal Association alert this afternoon -


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

HOUSE MEMBERS ARE DEBATING THE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BILL RIGHT NOW (June 11)

PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES IMMEDIATELY AND ASK THEM TO:

SUPPORT AMENDMENT #2 TO RESTORE LOCAL CONTROL OVER LIQUOR LICENSES

OPPOSE AMENDMENT #53 WHICH WOULD STRIP CITIES AND TOWNS OF THEIR ZONING AUTHORITY TO REGULATE WIRELESS ANTENNAS AND TOWERS

The House of Representatives is debating a comprehensive economic development bill (H. 4165) this afternoon (Wednesday, June 11). There are two important issues that will be debated today and your legislators need to hear from you before they vote on these amendments, so please call their offices as soon as you can!

1) LOCAL AUTHORITY OVER LIQUOR LICENSES. The House bill excludes important language contained in Governor Patrick’s economic development bill that would lift statutory caps on local liquor licenses for bars and restaurants, and the MMA is supporting Amendment #2 to restore local control over liquor licenses. Please call your House members and ask them to support Amendment #2 to return control over liquor licenses to cities and towns and end the delays and missed opportunities that result from the time-consuming home rule process.

2) LOCAL CONTROL OVER WIRELESS ANTENNAS AND TOWERS. A last-minute amendment filed by telecommunications companies would strip cities and towns of much of their authority to regulate wireless antennas and towers.   The MMA is strongly OPPOSING Amendment #53, which would allow telecommunications companies to load existing buildings and towers with unlimited new antennas and equipment, regardless of the impact on neighborhoods. Please call your House members and ask them protect local authority over wireless antennas and cell towers by OPPOSING Amendment #53.

Amendment #53 would allow all wireless telecommunications companies to install or upgrade wireless antennas and equipment on any structure that has an existing wireless antenna. These structures could include commercial or residential buildings, water towers, cell towers and even homes – with NO effective local government authority to regulate. The expansion of these wireless antennas could add 20 feet of height or more to the supporting structure, and could extend 20 feet or more horizontally. Each wireless carrier could add additional height and width with each new antenna, so this increase in size could double or triple as new carriers file applications. And cities and towns would be stripped of their existing authority to require aesthetic modifications to ensure the antennas and equipment blend in.

In fact, the amendment removes all local authority to review environmental and aesthetic impacts of such a “collocation.” Municipalities would also have no recourse to ensure that unused or abandoned facilities must be removed in the future. The wireless telecommunications provider would not need to comply with any local land use or zoning ordinances or bylaws, and would instead only need to comply with the state building code.

Under this proposal, in order to obtain a “collocation” permit, a mobile broadband provider would merely need to submit an application to the appropriate issuing authority in a municipality, and the city or town would have only 90 calendar days to review and act upon the “collocation” application, and could only reject applications that fail to meet the state building code – a very low technical standard.  If a municipality does not complete its review in 90 days, the collocation application would be considered approved. This irresponsible automatic approval would remove local control and in no way benefit the community.

IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT THAT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES HEAR FROM YOU TODAY. Please call your House Members and secure their commitment to SUPPORT AMENDMENT #2 and OPPOSE AMENDMENT #53.

 


 

House budget done

The Massachusetts Municipal Association’s alert this morning indicates that Representative Denise Garlick, after her assistance to the Town of Medfield yesterday at the hearing on its Medfield State Hospital bill, and her colleagues got the House budget finished.  This from the MMA -

Thursday, May 1, 2014

HOUSE PASSES FY 2015 STATE BUDGET BILL

SENATE PREPARING ITS OWN VERSION FOR DEBATE IN LATE MAY

Senate Ways & Means Committee on Target to Propose Its Spending Plan in 2 Weeks

Late on Wednesday, April 30, after three long days of debate, the House of Representatives passed a $36 billion state budget bill for fiscal 2015 that is slightly smaller than the overall budget filed by the Governor in January, but increases funding for several key municipal and education aid accounts, including the $25 million increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) announced in the Legislature’s March local aid resolution. The budget process now shifts to the Senate, with the Senate Ways and Means Committee expected to release its version of the fiscal 2015 spending plan in approximately 2 weeks, with debate to follow a week later.

HOUSE BUDGET CLOSELY RESEMBLES THE PROPOSAL ORIGINALLY RELEASED BY HOUSE WAYS & MEANS ON APRIL 9TH.

While the members of the House waded through 1,175 amendments during three days of debate, most amendments were rejected, and the document is very close to the House Ways & Means Committee’s initial proposal. Here are the highlights of the budget as passed by the members of the House:

UGGA INCREASE – As pledged in the Legislature’s local aid resolution, the House budget increases Unrestricted General Government Aid by $25 million;

CHAPTER 70 UNCHANGED – The House budget would adopt the Governor’s proposed $99M Chapter 70 increase with no changes, with a majority of cities, towns and school districts receiving very low minimum aid increases of only $25 per student;

SPED CIRCUIT-BREAKER INTENDED TO BE FULLY FUNDED – The House budget would add $5M to the Governor’s original recommendation, with the intent of fully funding the Special Education Circuit Breaker program in fiscal 2015;

CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS UP SLIGHTLY – The House budget would add $5M to the charter school reimbursement program, which would remain an estimated $33M short of full funding in fiscal 2015 and $28M short of full funding in fiscal 2014;

REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION – The House budget would add $2M to regional school transportation reimbursement account above the level-funding amount recommended by the Governor;

McKINNEY-VENTO FUNDING – The House budget level funds McKinney-Vento reimbursements, meaning that the budget would remain $7.5M short of full funding;

PILOT PAYMENTS – The House budget would restore $500K to Payments-in-Lieu-of-Taxes to level-fund the program, which is progress but still below full funding;

SHANNON ANTI-GANG GRANTS – The House adopted a compromise funding level to restore $2M to the Shannon Anti-Gang Grant Program, bringing the House budget up to $6M for fiscal 2015, although the fiscal 2014 funding level is $7M (the HW&M Committee recommended $4M for the program, and the MMA supported the amendment to fund the program at $8M a year, and the resulting compromise split the difference);

NET SCHOOL SPENDING EQUITY AMENDMENT ADOPTED – The House budget includes language to establish equity in calculating net school spending under Chapter 70 to allow all communities to count health insurance costs for retired school employees in fiscal years 2016 and beyond, phased in over 4 years, and allow DESE to waive penalties in the meantime (this important MMA-supported amendment was adopted by the House);

FREEZE ON RETIREE HEALTH CONTRIBUTIONS IN THE BUDGET – Language in outside sections 32 and 32A in the House budget would prohibit changes in retiree health insurance contribution percentages until July 1, 2016 for those communities that used the 2011 municipal health insurance reform law to make plan design changes or join the GIC, unless those communities voted to authorize a contribution percentage change before January 1, 2014 (the MMA opposed this section of the budget, and the House adopted an amendment to soften the language by grandfathering those communities that adopted the change before January 1 of this year);

REVIEW OF CHAPTER 70 FOUNDATION BUDGET FRAMEWORK IN THE BUDGET – The House Budget would create a Foundation Budget Review Commission with municipal representation to examine the Chapter 70 funding framework and recommend changes to adequately address funding needs in the future (this MMA-supported amendment was adopted by the House);

HOUSE AMENDMENT TO WEAKEN MUNICIPAL PERSONNEL LAWS WITHDRAWN – After the MMA’s strong objection and opposition, an amendment that would have weakened the prohibition on smoking for public safety personnel was withdrawn, and thus failed.

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR SENATORS TODAY: It is vitally important that you call your Senators as soon as possible to tell them how the House budget would impact your community, and ask them to improve the budget to address those accounts that impact you. Lawmakers must hear from you on these issues. Please contact MMA Legislative Director John Robertson at jrobertson@mma.org or 617-426-7272 x122 at any time if you have questions or need more details, and check the MMA website at www.mma.org for further updates as we continue to analyze the 230-page document and all last-minute amendments and changes.

THE SENATE WILL BEGIN DEBATE ON THE FISCAL 2015 STATE BUDGET IN JUST A FEW WEEKS. PLEASE CALL YOUR SENATORS TODAY AND URGE THEM TO BUILD ON THE LOCAL AID INCREASES IN THE HOUSE BUDGET AND INVEST EVEN MORE IN YOUR COMMUNITY.

 

My input to Reps on their budget deliberations

I just sent our state Representatives the email below to share with them my concerns and those of Massachusetts Municipal Association, as the House considers the state budget -

4/18/2014 12:34PM
Massachusetts Municipal Association’s budget positions
Denise Garlick. Shawn Dooley

Michael Sullivan; Kristine Trierweiler
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Denise and Shawn,

I wanted to make sure that you were both aware of the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s positions on the pending budget issues that you are facing in the legislature, so I have inserted below the MMA’s itemization, for your information.    Please know that when I attend the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s meetings, that I almost invariably find that my views align with those of the MMA.

Thanks in advance for looking out for Medfield’s interests.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

HOUSE DEBATE ON FY 2015 STATE BUDGET WILL BEGIN ON MONDAY, APRIL 28

Lawmakers Will Decide the Fate of 1,175 Amendments

Please Call Your Representatives Today on the Budget Amendments that Impact Key Municipal and School Priorities
The House is scheduled to begin debate on the $36 billion fiscal 2015 state budget on Monday, April 28.  The deliberations are expected to take several days, as Representatives have filed 1,175 amendments to make changes to H. 4000, the House Ways & Means Committee’s budget recommendation that was released on April 9.

Many of these amendments would directly impact cities and towns, including a number of welcome amendments that would increase funding for municipal and school aid accounts, and several unwelcome amendments that would have a negative impact on municipalities.  This Legislative Alert describes the most important amendments that will be debated.

Please contact your Representatives today: It is vitally important that you call your Representatives as soon as possible to secure their support for those amendments that would help your community, and ask them to oppose those amendments that would be harmful.  Lawmakers must hear from you on these issues.  Because of the great number of amendments, the summaries here are very brief.  Please contact MMA Legislative Director John Robertson at jrobertson@mma.org or 617-426-7272 x122 at any time if you have questions or need more details.

Read the proposed budget and amendments here: The House budget committee recommendation (H. 4000) and all proposed amendments are posted on the Legislature’s website at: https://malegislature.gov/Budget/FY2015/House/WaysAndMeans

No amendments allowed on UGGA or Chapter 70 funding.  Because of the Budget Order adopted by House members earlier this month, amendments and debate will not be allowed on proposals related to the two main Cherry Sheet accounts, Chapter 70 school aid and Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA).  When the Budget Order was adopted, House leaders said that funding levels for these essential aid programs were determined by the Local Aid Resolution adopted by the House in March.  Thus, H. 4000 would provide a $25 million increase in UGGA funding, and appropriate the same Chapter 70 amount that the Governor filed in January, an overall increase of $99.7 million, with most cities, towns and school districts receiving anemic minimum aid increases of $25 per student.

Amendments related to all other municipal and school aid accounts and to law changes are allowed under the Budget Order, including the following amendments that are highlighted below:

KEY BUDGET AMENDMENTS ON SCHOOL AND EDUCATION FUNDING

Support Funding for Reimbursements for Charter Schools Losses
Under state law, cities and towns that host or send students to charter schools are entitled to be reimbursed for a portion of their lost Chapter 70 aid.  The state fully funded the reimbursement program in fiscal 2013, but is underfunding the reimbursements called for in state law by approximately $28 million this year.  The Governor’s budget would level-fund charter school reimbursements at $75 million, which would guarantee a shortfall of $29 million in fiscal 2015.  The HW&M budget would increase reimbursements by $5 million, to a total of $80 million.  This represents slight progress, but the program would still be underfunded by $24 million.

Shortfalls in the charter school reimbursement program cause major fiscal distress in every community that has a significant charter school presence.  Only a small fraction of the public school students attend charter schools.  Underfunding this program would force cutbacks for the vast majority of students who remain in the traditional school setting.

Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 993 filed by Rep. Malia and 26 others to fully fund charter school reimbursements due to cities, towns and regional school districts by providing the full $104.3 million necessary to meet the state’s obligation.  The MMA also supports Amendment 124 filed by Rep. Moran and others, and Amendment 412 filed by Rep. Peisch, as each of these amendments also intend to fully fund this essential account.

Support Funding for McKinney-Vento Homeless Student Transportation Costs
The HW&M and Governor’s budgets would level-fund reimbursements for the transportation of homeless students at $7.4 million, which is $7.5 million below the full reimbursement called for under the state’s unfunded mandate law.  Two years ago, the State Auditor ruled that the adoption of the federal McKinney-Vento law imposed an unfunded mandate on cities and towns.  The program was funded at $11.3 million in fiscal 2013 and cut to $7.4 million in fiscal 2014.  Level-funding the program would continue to impose a significant burden on those cities and towns that are providing transportation services to homeless children who have been placed in their communities by the state.

Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 999 filed by Rep. Heroux and 38 others, Amendment 772 filed by Rep. Stanley and others, and Amendment 747 filed by Rep. Poirier and others.  All of these amendments would fully fund the $14.9 million in reimbursements due to municipalities and school districts for the cost of transporting homeless students from temporary shelters to school.

Support Net School Spending Equity Under Chapter 70
Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 1166 filed by Rep. Fennell and others to allow all municipal and regional school districts, at local option, to count spending on health insurance for retired school employees toward the “net school spending” requirement under Chapter 70.  Unfortunately, current rules exclude these costs from net school spending in some districts, but allow the costs to count in others.  This year, there are harsh financial penalties facing many cities, towns and school districts unless the law is changed to provide parity for all communities.  This amendment would ensure equity by providing all cities, towns and districts with the ability to count insurance costs for their retired school employees.

Support Funding for Regional School District Student Transportation
Funding for school transportation costs is vital to regional districts and member cities and towns, particular in sparsely populated parts of the state. The HW&M budget would provide $53.5 million for regional school transportation reimbursements, which is $2 million more than this year and an improvement over the Governor’s level-funded budget, but is still nearly $7 million below fiscal 2008 levels and is far below the $78 million required for full funding. Decades ago, the state promised 100 percent reimbursement as an incentive for towns and cities to regionalize, and the underfunding of this account has presented serious budget challenges for these districts, taking valuable dollars from the classroom.

Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 266 filed by Rep. Turner and 38 others, Amendment 493 filed by Rep. Naughton, and Amendment 619 filed by Rep. Kuros.  All of these amendments would increase transportation reimbursements to regional school districts by an additional $4 million to bring fiscal 2015 funding to $57.5 million.

Support Funding for Out-of-District Vocational Education Student Transportation
The fiscal 2014 state budget included a $3 million item to reimburse communities for a portion of the state-mandated cost of transporting students to out-of-district placements in vocational schools.  This account recognizes the significant expense of providing transportation services for out-of-district placements, as these students must travel long distances to participate in vocational programs that are not offered locally, and state law mandates communities to provide the transportation.  The HW&M budget would reduce this funding level by 50%, down to an underfunded level of $1.5 million (the Governor’s budget eliminated all funding).

Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 543 filed by Rep. Lombardo to fully fund the $3.8 million cost of transporting students to out-of-district placements in vocational schools.

Oppose Automatic Approval of Regional School District Stabilization Funds
Please ask your Representatives to oppose Amendment 151 that would establish a system of automatic approval of the establishment of stabilization funds in regional school districts.  Chapter 71 of the General Laws provides a fair and reasonable approval process through which member cities and towns may authorize the establishment of a stabilization fund in the local regional school district.  Amendment 151 would allow a fund to be established if a member city or town did not call a Town Meeting within 60 days to reject the proposal.  Most stabilization funds are capped at a reasonable level, but the stabilization funds in regional school districts are allowed to grow at a huge level up to double the levy ceiling in member communities.  Because of the enormous amount of taxpayer dollars at stake, this automatic and expedited approval mechanism should be rejected, and towns and cities should have a full say in the process.

Support the Formation of a Foundation Budget Review Commission
The foundation budget school spending standard that guides Chapter 70 funding was first enacted as part of the landmark 1993 education reform law and has largely remained unchanged since that time.  In addition to the need to adjust the foundation budget to reflect the many substantial changes that have occurred in public education over the past 20 years, the current foundation budget structure clearly understates many key education expenses, and does not fully reflect the cost of operating modern school systems, as evidenced by the fact that cities and towns spend $2.1 billion more to run their schools than the amount called for in the foundation budget.

Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 243 filed by Rep. Ehrlich and 33 others, and Amendment 771 filed by Rep. O’Connell and others, to re-establish the Foundation Budget Review Commission under Chapter 70 for the purpose of reviewing the way that the foundation budget is calculated.

KEY BUDGET AMENDMENTS ON MUNICIPAL AID ACCOUNTS AND MUNICIPAL MANAGEMENT POLICY

Support and Preserve Municipal Decision-Making Authority on Health Insurance
Outside Section 32 of the HW&M budget would unilaterally extend a 3-year freeze on changing retiree health insurance contribution percentages by an additional two years.  Under existing law, any city or town that used sections 22 or 23 of Chapter 32B (the 2011 municipal health insurance reform law) to implement plan design changes or join the GIC is prohibited from changing retiree health insurance contribution percentages until July 1, 2014.  Section 32 would extend that freeze for two more years, until July 1, 2016, for any municipality that adopted or is planning on adopting provisions of the 2011 municipal health insurance reform law. This proposed change would reverse planned contribution changes that have already been adopted by some cities and towns, and would delay the ability to take action on retiree contribution percentages in many others.

Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 498, which would strike Section 32 from the HW&M budget and preserve the decision-making power of cities and towns to determine health insurance contribution percentages for retirees.  Municipal officials have been operating in good faith under the current law, and it is unfair and unwise to interfere with their authority to act in the best interests of local taxpayers, employees and retirees.

Oppose Attempts to Circumvent and Weaken Municipal Personnel Laws
Please ask your Representatives to oppose Amendment 804, which would significantly weaken the smoking prohibition for public safety employees.

Because of special provisions in state law that established a work-related presumption for heart and lung disease for public safety personnel, state law mandates a no smoking rule for public safety employees.  Under Chapter 32 of the General Laws, any police officer or firefighter with heart disease and any firefighter with lung disease or lung cancer is automatically eligible for a disability pension, but the enactment of these presumptions included an absolute ban on the use of tobacco products because smoking and tobacco use is the primary and overwhelming cause of heart and lung disease and cancer. Under Section 101A of Chapter 41, employees who violate this strict prohibition are subject to dismissal.  This has been the law since 1988.

But Amendment 804 would reverse 26 years of standing law and personnel policy, and instead mandate that cities and towns offer a smoking cessation program to those who violate the policy and keep the presumption in place for these employees in spite of their use of tobacco products, with only a subsequent violation being grounds for removal.  All public safety personnel are aware of the no smoking rule, and violations must be addressed fully because the special treatment and protections that are in place were granted only on the condition that these employees refrain from tobacco use.  Amendment 804 would remove a very important taxpayer protection, and should be rejected.

Support Funding for Payments-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT)
Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 753 filed by Rep. D’Emilia to add $3.5 million to increase funding of payments to cities and towns in lieu of taxes for state-owned land (PILOT).  This is a particularly important Cherry Sheet program for the cities and towns that host and provide municipal services to state facilities that are exempt from the local property tax.  The Governor’s proposed budget would cut $500K from the program, and the HW&M budget would restore the $500K to level-fund the account at this year’s level of $26.9 million.  Amendment 753 would bring the account up to $30.4 million.

Support Funding for the Shannon Anti-Gang Grant Program
Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 383 filed by Rep. Brady and 43 others to increase funding for the Shannon anti-gang grant program that has helped cities and towns respond to and suppress gang-related activities.  This amendment would add $4 million and bring total funding up to $8 million, which is the same level proposed by the Governor.

Support Funding for the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative
Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 386, filed by Rep. Brady and others to increase funding of the Safe and Supportive Youth Initiative from $4 million to $9.5 million. The program seeks to reduce youth violence through wraparound services for those most likely to be victims or perpetrators, and is vital to violence prevention efforts in dozens of communities.

Support Funding for Summer Jobs for At-Risk Youth
Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 427 filed by Rep. Fox and others to increase funding for youth summer jobs from $8 million to $12 million. This funding is critical to providing employment opportunities for at-risk teenagers in our cities and towns, especially with youth unemployment rates climbing.

Support Transparency in Water Management Regulations
Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 70 filed by Rep. Peterson to require the Department of Environmental protection to appear before the Legislature’s Committee on the Environment, Natural and Agriculture to explain the terms and implementation of proposed regulations governing water management before the regulations can be finalized.

The state’s Sustainable Water Management Initiative proposes dramatic changes to permitting under the Water Management Act by establishing new biological categorizations and basing water withdrawal thresholds on new and unprecedented stream flow criteria. This regulatory scheme would limit water withdrawals, the main source of water system revenues, and at the same time increase costs for water suppliers by imposing additional mitigation measures.

KEY BUDGET AMENDMENTS ON CAPITAL SPENDING PRIORITIES

Support Funding for Dam and Seawall Repairs
Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 1155 filed by Rep. Cantwell and others to appropriate $10 million for the Dam and Seawall Repair or Removal Fund.  There are approximately 3,000 dams in Massachusetts, most of which are in disrepair and causing damage to the environment and posing public safety risks. In 2011, the State Auditor reported that the state’s aging and neglected stock of dams poses a “significant threat to public safety’’ and requires an estimated $60 million in repairs.  Additional funding, along with the law enacted last year limiting the amount of nutrients in fertilizers, would go a long way toward improving the health of our lakes, rivers and streams.

Support Brownfields Redevelopment Funds
Please ask your Representatives to support Amendment 915 filed by Rep. Walsh and others and Amendment 121 filed by Rep. Moran and others to increase available funding for Brownfields redevelopment projects.  This funding is critical to the successful redevelopment of former industrial sites and will enhance local economic development efforts across the state, and improve the environment.  Amendment 915 would allocate up to $45 million from the fiscal 2014 year-end surplus to Brownfield projects, and Amendment 121 would provide a $30 million appropriation in the fiscal 2015 state budget.
===================================================

Best,
Pete
Osler L. Peterson, Attorney at Law
PETERSON | Law
580 Washington Street, Newton, MA 02458
66 North St, PO Box 358, Medfield, MA 02052
T – 617.969.1500
T – 617.969.1501 (direct)
M – 508-359-9190
F – 617.663.6008

http://mysite.verizon.net/osler.peterson/

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MMA says state to provide pothole repair $

This notice from the Massachusetts Municipal Association this morning-

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

PATRICK ADMINISTRATION TO PROVIDE CITIES AND TOWNS WITH $30 MILLION FOR POTHOLE AND WINTER RECOVERY EFFORTS

$30 MILLION IN ONE-TIME AID TO BE AVAILABLE AND ALLOCATED THROUGH CHAPTER 90 FORMULA

In one hour, Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey will officially announce that Governor Patrick has established a $40 million “Pothole and Winter Recovery Program” that will provide cities and towns with $30 million in funding this spring to repair potholes and other damage to roads, signs, facilities and equipment caused by the punishing winter. The remaining $10 million will be used by the state Highway Division for similar repairs to state roads.

Secretary Davey will make the announcement at a press conference in Dorchester, joined by MMA President and Attleboro Mayor Kevin Dumas, Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan and other state and local officials.

According to MassDOT, this one-time program is funded through anticipated surpluses in the state’s fiscal 2014 capital spending plan, caused by “the delay in the passage of transportation bond bill.”

The $30 million for cities and towns will be allocated to municipalities using the Chapter 90 formula. The program will allow municipalities to implement “repairs of potholes, cracking, signage, guardrail or other damage,” as well as “repairs to municipal vehicles or transportation facilities (e.g. garages, fueling stations)” or “projects identified through written agreement between MassDOT and a municipality.”

MassDOT officials have outlined the following details: 1) the program will be implemented this month, with all qualifying work completed by September of 2014; 2) the department will issue one-time contracts with municipalities allowing them to draw down their share of the $30 million for the specific purpose of road and facility repairs; and 3) these contracts will include a “use it or lose it” clause to ensure that the funds are obligated for specific projects prior to the end of this fiscal year on June 30 and that funds are spend and projects completed by next September.

Cities and towns will be receiving official notification and information of this program within the next several days.

This year’s harsh winter has damaged local roads, generated countless potholes and placed a huge burden on local taxpayers as municipal leaders work to shore up their crumbling roadways. Communities will put these funds to immediate use rebuilding and repairing roads, equipment and facilities in every corner of Massachusetts, which will save money, help our economy and improve public safety.

This is very good news for cities and towns, and the MMA applauds Governor Patrick, Secretary Davey and MassDOT for this important program!

 

MMA on Gov.’s budget

This alert this afternoon from the Massachusetts Municipal Association -

MMA Alert: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Governor Files Disappointing FY 2015 State Budget

Unrestricted Municipal Aid Level Funded at $920 Million

Chapter 70 Receives 2.3% Increase of $99.5 Million

SPED Circuit-Breaker Underfunded by $10 Million

McKinney-Vento Reimbursements Underfunded

Charter School Reimbursements Underfunded

Payments-in-Lieu-of-Taxes (PILOT) Cut by $500K

Earlier this afternoon, Gov. Deval Patrick filed his fiscal 2015 state budget with the Legislature, a $36.4 billion plan that increases state spending by 4.9%, but level funds Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), provides a tepid 2.3% Chapter 70 increase, and level-funds and underfunds most other municipal and education accounts.

With state tax revenues increasing by $1.14 billion, it was expected that Gov. Patrick would share at least some of those funds with cities and towns, especially in UGGA funding, because direct municipal aid was cut so deeply during the recession, and is nearly $400 million below fiscal 2008 levels.

The Governor’s budget is a significant disappointment.  Cities and towns are struggling to rebuild their finances after several challenging years.  The fiscal 2015 spending plan filed today would freeze unrestricted local aid, provide only minimum amounts for K-12 education, and would underfund almost all other key municipal and school programs.

Budget action now shifts to the Legislature, and it will be vitally important for local leaders to tell their Representatives and Senators that the Governor’s budget is inadequate, and would force cuts in essential municipal and school programs, trigger even higher reliance on the overburdened property tax, and prevent new investments in the basic services that build our economy.

UNRESTRICTED GENERAL GOVERNMENT AID (UGGA) LEVEL FUNDED

 

The Governor’s budget would level fund UGGA at $920 million.  This is the main municipal aid account that communities rely on to fund police and fire protection, public works, libraries, parks, recreation programs, senior and youth programs, and public education.  With the cost of these services increasing every year, level funding local aid would force cuts in these essential services, increase reliance on property taxes, or both.  Cities and towns had asked the Governor to increase unrestricted local aid by the same rate that state revenues are increasing – 4.9 percent.  Local aid should grow at the same pace as the Massachusetts economy, which would require a $45 million increase.  Unfortunately, by level-funding local aid, the Governor’s budget would create a new modern record – cities and towns would be more reliant on the property tax than at any time since the implementation of Proposition 2½ thirty-three years ago.

Click Here to Link to the Governor’s Proposed Cherry Sheet Aid Amounts.

CHAPTER 70 SEES BELOW-INFLATION INCREASE

The Governor’s budget announcement states that Chapter 70 would reach record levels.  However, the Administration is proposing an increase of $99.5 million, or 2.3 percent.  Most cities, towns and school districts would receive a minimum aid increase of only $25 per student.  59 districts would receive foundation aid, and 94 districts would receive an increase to partially fund the 2007 “target share” provisions.  At $99.5 million, this Chapter 70 increase would be one of the smallest since the passage of education reform in 1993, twenty years ago.  Please tell your legislators that Chapter 70 must receive a higher increase to prevent cuts and distress in many school districts across the state.

Click Here to Link to DESE’s Chapter 70 Calculation Spreadsheets for Your Community.

SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER UNDERFUNDED

The Governor’s budget would level-fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker program at $252.5 million.  Because special education costs are expected to rise by approximately 5 percent or more, this means that the Governor’s budget would underfund reimbursements by $10 million to $15 million.  This is a vital account that every city, town and school district relies on to fund state-mandated services.  Please tell your legislators that you deeply appreciate their efforts to fully fund the program for the past two years.  The Governor’s budget would translate into a significant cut for every community in the state.

McKINNEY-VENTO REIMBURSEMENTS UNDERFUNDED

The Governor’s budget would level-fund reimbursements for the transportation of homeless students at $7.4 million, which is at least $4 million below the full reimbursement called for under the state’s unfunded mandate law.  Two years ago, the State Auditor ruled that the adoption of the federal McKinney-Vento law imposed an unfunded mandate on cities and towns.  The program was funded at $11.3 million in fiscal 2013 and $7.4 million in fiscal 2014.  By level-funding the program, the Governor’s budget would ignore the Auditor’s ruling and impose a significant burden on those cities and towns that are providing transportation services to homeless children who have been placed in communities by the state.

CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS UNDERFUNDED

Under state law, cities and towns that host or send students to charter schools are entitled to be reimbursed for a portion of their lost Chapter 70 aid.  The state fully funded the reimbursement program in fiscal 2013, but is underfunding reimbursements by approximately $28 million this year.  The Governor’s budget would level-fund charter school reimbursements at $75 million, which would guarantee a major shortfall in fiscal 2015.  Please tell your legislators that underfunding the charter school reimbursement program causes major fiscal distress in every community that has a significant charter school presence.  Only a small fraction of the public school students attend charter schools.  Underfunding this program would force cutbacks for the vast majority of students who remain in the traditional school setting.

REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION REIMBURSEMENTS LEVEL FUNDED

The Governor’s budget would level-fund regional school transportation reimbursements at $51.5 million.  This account is already underfunded, and freezing the appropriation would force communities to absorb the increased costs due to fuel and inflation.  Please thank your legislators for increasing this program in recent years, and ask them to provide the funding necessary to prevent deeper budget woes in dozens of school districts.

PAYMENTS-IN-LIEU-OF-TAXES (PILOT) CUT BY $500K

The Governor’s budget would slice $500,000 from PILOT payments, cutting this already underfunded program from $26.77 million to $26.27 million.  Communities use these funds to offset the expense of hosting and providing emergency response services to state-owned property within their borders.  Please tell your legislators that funding this program is a matter of fairness, and underfunding the program harms a large number of small and rural communities.

SHANNON ANTI-GANG GRANTS WOULD RECEIVE $1 MILLION MORE

The Governor’s budget would increase funding for the Shannon Anti-Gang Grant program from $7 million to $8 million.

PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS TODAY – INFORM THEM THAT THE GOVERNOR’S BUDGET PROPOSAL FALLS FAR SHORT OF WHAT IS NECESSARY.  FREEZING MUNICIPAL AID AND OFFERING MINIMUM EDUCATION FUNDING WILL FORCE HIGHER RELIANCE ON THE PROPERTY TAX, TRIGGER SERVICE REDUCTIONS IN CITIES AND TOWNS ACROSS THE STATE, AND PREVENT NEEDED INVESTMENTS IN KEY PROGRAMS THAT BUILD OUR ECONOMY.

MMA annual meeting

The Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual meeting is coming up at the end of next week, and a lot of Medfield officials are attending.  For the first time in my tenure as a selectman, all three selectmen will reportedly be attending.  Mike Sullivan shared with me that numerous other town employees will attend this year as well.

I find that I always get a multitude of great ideas on how to approach Town of Medfield governing issues from the many presentations by the myriad of those who have already been dealing with the same issues we face, whether they be the paid experts looking to sell their wares, or more importantly the state and municipal officials who are voluntarily sharing of their time and expertise in already having dealt with the issues.  The major lesson is that Medfield is one of 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, and that all 351 are dealing with the same issues and their officials are willing to share what is working well for them.  Correct information and complete data are the basis for any good decision making, and the MMA annual meeting is the best source for getting details about municipal governance, so I am especially pleased that all your selectmen and many other town officials will be taking advantage of the opportunity.

Year ago as I set off to my first MMA annual meeting, Mike Sullivan whispered in my ear that residents would not think well of a selectman costing them large amounts by staying at the hotel, which I took as sage advice, so I cheap out by going to all the informational meetings, but skip the the dinners and the entertainment, and commute home at night.

This was the MMA’s email notice to get last minute sign ups -

MMA Annual Meeting News
January 24 & 25, 2014
Hynes Convention Center & Sheraton Hotel

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN AND BOSTON MAYOR MARTIN WALSH TO ADDRESS MMA ANNUAL MEETING
Register Today to Attend Annual Meeting

United States Senator Elizabeth Warren and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh will address local officials at the MMA Business Meeting on Saturday, January 25, 2014 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.  The MMA Business Meeting will start at 11:15 a.m. on Jan. 25.  Local officials will want to hear from these exciting new leaders!

Other Event Highlights:

  • Opening Session Keynote address by Pulitzer Prize winning author Jon Meacham
  • Closing session features a Gubernatorial Candidates’ Forum moderated by Jon Keller.
  • WEMO luncheon with Public Safety Secretary Andrea Cabral.
  • A robust Trade Show featuring many companies that provide the latest products and services needed to run communities including Massachusetts State 911 Department’s Mobile Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP)
  • Meet with key legislators and state officials
  • Attend information-packed workshops and three emerging issues forums on key municipal issues
  • Opening Reception
  • Friday Evening Banquet with Liz Walker
  • Networking opportunities
  • Member Associations’ Business Meetings
  • Innovation Awards, Town Report Contest and Municipal Website Awards
  • President’s Reception
  • Saturday Evening Banquet with Second City

MMA annual meeting

I just registered for the business sessions of the Massachusetts Municipal Association’s annual meeting in January, which I have always found to be a great resource for ideas and new approaches.  Being frugal, I do not register for the dinners or the hotel, and just commute back and forth.  Here is the schedule for this year – let me know if there is something that you especially think I should cover.

Friday, January 24, 2014


8 a.m.-5 p.m Conference Registration Hynes, Hall C foyer, 2nd floor
9:30-11 a.m. Opening Session
Keynote Speaker: Jon Meacham
Hynes, Ballroom B, 3rd floor
11 a.m.-5 p.m. Municipal Trade Show Hynes, Hall C & Auditorium
Noon-1:30 p.m. WEMO Luncheon (preregistration required)
Speaker: Public Safety Secretary Andrea Cabral
Hynes, Ballroom C, 3rd floor
2-3:30 p.m. CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS – Friday session
• Building Your Professional Network
• Civility in City Hall
• Data Breaches: Is Your Community Vulnerable?
• Hoarding Response: Increasing Effectiveness, Decreasing Costs
• Labor Law Update
• New Opportunities and Changes in Municipal Renewable Energy
• Options Outside of Civil Service
• Planning Ahead: Smart Growth and Sustainable Communities
• Pushing Broadband the Final Mile
• State and Local Economic and Budget Outlook
Hynes, 2nd floor meeting rooms
3:45-5:15 p.m. EMERGING ISSUES FORUMS
• Fiscal Stewardship and Sustainability
• Rebuilding the New England Village as a Healthy Community
• Technology, Transparency and Accessibility: Local Government on the Cutting Edge
Hynes, 3rd floor meeting rooms
6-7 p.m. Opening Reception Sheraton, Constitution Ballroom foyer, 2nd floor
7:15-9 p.m. Banquet Dinner, MMA President’s Address
Special guest: Liz Walker
(Preregistration required)
Sheraton, Grand Ballroom, 2nd floor
Saturday, January 25, 2014


8 a.m.-3:30 p.m Conference Registration Hynes, Hall C foyer, 2nd floor
7:30-8:30 a.m. Member Associations Breakfast Hynes, Ballroom B, 3rd floor
BUSINESS MEETINGS FOR MEMBER ASSOCIATIONS
8:30-10 a.m. • Massachusetts Municipal Councillors’ Association Hynes, room 306
8:30-10 a.m. • Massachusetts Selectmen’s Association Hynes, Ballroom C, 3rd floor
8:30-10 a.m. • Massachusetts Mayors’ Association Hynes, room 300
8:30-10 a.m. • Massachusetts Municipal Management Association Hynes, room 313
10 a.m.-2 p.m. Municipal Trade Show Hynes, Hall C & Auditorium
10:15-11:50 a.m. MMA Annual Business Meeting
(incl. President’s Address)
Hynes, Ballroom A, 3rd floor
11:50 a.m.-noon MMA Board of Directors Meeting: Election of Officers Hynes, Ballroom A, 3rd floor
noon-1:30 p.m. MIIA Luncheon and Business Meeting (by reservation only) Hynes, Ballroom B, 3rd floor
1:45-3:15 p.m. CONCURRENT WORKSHOPS – Saturday session
• Beyond GO Bonds: Innovations in Infrastructure Improvement Finance
• Capital Planning: Affording the Big Stuff
• Connecting Veterans to Needed Services
• Federal and State Health Reform Update
• Giving Citizens Numbers They Can Understand: Citizen-Centric Reporting
• Grant Opportunities for Green Infrastructure
• Making the Case for Regional Emergency Dispatch
• Municipal Law Update
• Open Meeting Law Update
• Pavement Management: Making Your Chapter 90 Money Go Further
Hynes, 2nd floor meeting rooms
3:30-5:15 p.m. Closing Session
Gubernatorial Candidates’ Forum
Hynes, Ballroom A, 3rd floor
6-7:15 p.m. Presentation of Innovation, Municipal Website and Town Report Awards; President’s Reception Sheraton, Constitution Ballroom
7:15-9:15 p.m. Annual Banquet (preregistration required)
Entertainment: The Second City
Sheraton, Grand Ballroom

MMA asks for long term bond bill for roads

This Alert this afternoon from the Massachusetts Municipal Association -

October 22, 2013

PLEASE CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY AND ASK THEM TO PASS A LONG-TERM CHAPTER 90 BOND BILL BY NOV. 20

Cities And Towns Need A Multi-Year Ch. 90 Bill Now; Without a Long-Term Bill in Place, Next Year’s Authorization Could be Delayed Again

Even as the MMA and local officials across the state call on the Governor to release the full $300 million in Chapter 90 funds that the Legislature has authorized for fiscal year 2014, it is important to push for swift action to approve a multi-year bond bill to guarantee that Chapter 90 funds will flow on time for fiscal year 2015 and beyond.

Local officials across the state applaud the Legislature’s action to authorize $300 million for Chapter 90 during the current fiscal year.  We are extremely disappointed in the Administration’s unwise decision to withhold $100 million from cities and towns – the Legislature voted to fund Chapter 90 by a unanimous vote, and provided a broad tax and revenue package to significantly increase transportation investments, and communities are dismayed that the Administration is unilaterally deciding to deny Chapter 90 even one penny of the additional revenues, let alone the full amount embraced by local officials and every lawmaker in the state.

The MMA and local officials will continue to call on the Governor to release the full amount of Chapter 90 funding that is due cities and towns.  The good news is that the Legislature’s authorization will remain on the books, which means that this Administration, or any future Administration, can decide to release the $100 million at any point.

In the meantime, we are also looking beyond the fiscal 2014 authorization, to the passage of a multi-year Chapter 90 bond bill to enable cities and towns to plan for the future.  The passage of a bond bill (and the companion “terms” bill) requires a long journey along a very time-consuming pathway.  This lengthy process, coupled with the debate over the transportation finance bill, resulted in the Governor delaying release of final Chapter 90 allocation letters until July 30, rather than the customary and statutory date of April 1.  Provisional and contingent letters were sent in April and May, but these did not provide cities and towns with legal authorization to enter into road construction contracts or to start work.  Missing the April 1 deadline shortens the construction season and delays important projects in every part of the state.

In order to avoid another frustrating and costly delay in the start of local road projects for fiscal 2015 and beyond, please call your Representatives and Senators today and ask them to enact a multi-year, $300 million-a-year Chapter 90 bond bill as soon as possible before the end of the 2013 session on November 20.  It is important for the Legislature to enact a new Chapter 90 authorization before the end of formal legislative sessions on November 20.  Otherwise, using history as a guide, the fiscal 2015 authorization would likely be delayed again, and miss the April 1 notification date.  Please ask your legislators to commit to passing a 5-year Chapter 90 bond bill that provides $300 million annually, indexed for inflation.

We need the Legislature to pass a long-term Chapter 90 bond bill today so that funds will flow to cities and towns without delay next spring!

 

Please click here to download a copy of the MMA’s letter to the Legislature calling for passage of a $300-million-a-year, multi-year Chapter 90 bond bill before the Legislature adjourns on November 20.

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS TODAY AND ASK THEM TO PASS A MULTI-YEAR CHAPTER 90 BOND BILL BEFORE THE LEGISLATURE ADJOURNS ON NOV. 20

Thank You Very Much.

Half a loaf from Gov to towns

This alert this afternoon from the Massachusetts Municipal Association, as the Governor releases only half the monies the legislature has designated for road repairs this year to cities and towns  -

May 31, 2013

 

GOVERNOR RELEASES $150 MILLION FOR CHAPTER 90, WITHHOLDING HALF OF THE PROGRAM FROM CITIES AND TOWNS
GOVERNOR OFFERS NO COMMITMENT OR FIRM PLAN TO RELEASE ALL $300 MILLION AFTER THE TRANSPORTATION FINANCE BILL REACHES HIS DESK

Earlier today, the Patrick Administration issued updated Chapter 90 notices to cities and towns, stating that once the Legislature passes the “terms bill” the Administration will release only $150 million in funding for local roads in fiscal 2014, in spite of the fact that the Governor signed the Legislature’s $300 million Chapter 90 bond bill one week ago.  Remarkably, the Administration is reducing the Chapter 90 authorization by $50 million, even though the Legislature voted unanimously to increase the program by $100 million.

In making the announcement, the Administration stated that the release of the $150 million will become official after the “terms bill” is passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor.  The House and Senate are finalizing the details of a major tax hike to fund Chapter 90 and an expansion of the state’s transportation funding plans, but the Administration is making no commitment to release the full $300 million after the tax package becomes law.  Instead, MassDOT Secretary Davey stated that “Depending on the final disposition of the transportation finance plan, it may be possible to release additional Chapter 90 funding later in fiscal year 2014 for either the fall or early spring construction seasons.”

The MMA has issued a strong statement calling on the Governor to pledge to release the full $300 million authorization, saying that “[t]he bottom line is clear: cities and towns disagree with the Administration’s decision to cut back on Chapter 90 funding instead of committing now to the full $300 million that the Legislature and local officials know is necessary.  We ask the Governor to release all of the Chapter 90 funds because the program is a necessary, affordable and money-saving way to improve the quality and safety of our roads, build our economy, create jobs, protect local taxpayers, ensure equity across the state, and return new tax dollars to every single community.”

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE MMA’S STATEMENT CALLING FOR THE RELEASE OF THE FULL $300 MILLION FOR CHAPTER 90

PLEASE CONTACT THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE (617-725-4000) AND YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AND ASK THE GOVERNOR TO COMMIT TO RELEASE THE FULL $300 MILLION AUTHORIZATION.  SHORTCHANGING CHAPTER 90 WILL DELAY IMPORTANT LOCAL PROJECTS, SHORTEN THE CONSTRUCTION SEASON, AND INCREASE COSTS FOR CITIES AND TOWNS.

WHEN YOU SPEAK WITH THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE AND YOUR LEGISLATORS, PLEASE MAKE THE FOLLOWING POINTS:

• Cities and towns are responsible for maintaining, repairing and rebuilding nearly 90 percent of the roadways in Massachusetts – adequate funding for Chapter 90 is necessary to ensure that these local transportation needs are met.

• Cities and towns use their Chapter 90 funds to provide safe roads that are essential for economic growth, commerce and everyday living – unfortunately, the Administration’s announcement would actually reduce Chapter 90 distributions by $50 million below the current level, a 25 percent cut, instead of funding the $100 million increase that the Legislature and local officials know is necessary.

• Chapter 90 improves the quality and safety of our roads – full funding is needed to bring local roads up to a state of good repair, the standard for ensuring well-maintained roads in good condition.

• Chapter 90 sends new tax dollars back home where they belong – citizens and businesses will be paying higher taxes to fund transportation improvements, and Chapter 90 is the one program that will provide taxpayers in every single community with a share of their investment.

• Chapter 90 is affordable – the Legislature is on the verge of enacting a comprehensive transportation revenue package, there is enough revenue in the House and Senate transportation finance bills, and it is the Legislature’s clear intent is to use the new revenue to fund Chapter 90 at $300 million.

• Chapter 90 ensures regional equity – the Chapter 90 program is the most effective and efficient way to ensure regional equity and access to increased transportation tax revenues because cities and towns receive their funds through a tried-and-true formula that shares revenues in a fair way in every corner of the Commonwealth.

• Chapter 90 protects communities and local taxpayers –under Proposition 2½, cities and towns can’t increase local funding to repair roads unless they cut other important services such as public safety and local schools, or pass a tax override, which increases local reliance on the already overburdened property tax.

• Chapter 90 strengthens the Massachusetts economy – all experts and stakeholders agree that investing in transportation is essential for our state’s economic growth and competitiveness, and Chapter 90 builds economic progress in every community, which is good for every resident, taxpayer, and business owner in the state.

• Chapter 90 creates construction jobs now – cities and towns face such a backlog of need that every new dollar for Chapter 90 will immediately result in visible and necessary repair projects on local roads all across Massachusetts, creating high-quality construction jobs for the middle class.

• Chapter 90 saves taxpayers money ­– investing more in Chapter 90 funding to improve the quality of local roads will actually save taxpayers millions of dollars a year because, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, once a local road is in a state of good repair, every dollar invested for maintenance will save 6 to 10 dollars in avoided repair costs that become necessary to rebuild the road when it fails due to a lack of maintenance.

• PLEASE ASK THE GOVERNOR to commit to releasing all $300 million for Chapter 90 as soon as the tax package reaches his desk.  Chapter 90 is a necessary, affordable and money-saving program to improve the quality and safety of our roads, build our economy, create jobs, protect local taxpayers, ensure equity across the state, and return new tax dollars to every single community.

PLEASE CONTACT GOV. PATRICK’S OFFICE TODAY AND ASK HIM TO COMMIT TO ALL $300 MILLION FOR CHAPTER 90

AND

PLEASE ASK YOUR LEGISLATORS TO CONTACT THE GOVERNOR AND CALL FOR THE RELEASE OF $300 MILLION FOR CHAPTER 90

Thank You Very Much.