Category Archives: Massachusetts Municipal Association

MMA’s Pickard Innovation Award

The Massachusetts Municipal Association annually gives awards to innovative municipal programs.  Today I got the MMA email (inserted below) encouraging towns to submit entries for this year, and what I thought was interesting was to review the past winners list.  Massachusetts has 351 municipalities all trying to solve the same issues, and we can learn a lot from one another, which is the basic assumption behind the MMA.  Let me know if you see one that you think Medfield should be pursuing.

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The following are recent winners of the MMA’s Pickard Innovation Award:

2018
Arlington: Property registry addresses commercial vacancies
Harwich: Municipal pet cemetery provides service while raising revenue
Orleans: Project uses shellfish to reduce water nitrogen levels

2017
Leominster: Creating an autism-friendly city and community
Salem: ‘Park Your Butts’ retools to improve cigarette waste recycling
Adams: Board unites artists, local government to spur creative economy
Scituate: Standard procedures, templates streamline emergency news dissemination

2016
Danvers: Incentive program reduces peak electricity use and costs
Everett: City-run center offers low-cost exercise classes and equipment
Leverett: Town builds high-speed fiber optic Internet network

2015
Chatham: Cloud provides access to meeting video archives
Deerfield, Sunderland, Whately: Emergency medical service improves response times
Springfield: After tornado, city promoted tree planting

2014
Arlington: ‘Visual Budget’ illuminates how taxes are spent
Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Chelmsford, Lowell: Communities collaborate on economic development
Melrose: ‘Our City’ exercise helped sharpen civic goals

2013
Braintree, Weymouth: Collaboration bears fruit in Landing district
‘HarborWalk’ reveals Gloucester’s riches
Medford broadens its ‘Go Green’ initiative

2012
Bedford, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Sudbury, Weston: Towns formed coalition to monitor affordable housing
Danvers: Summer program created for homeless kids
Leominster: Effort to revive historic district nears fruition

2011
Fairhaven: Anaerobic digestion to offset energy costs
Hamilton-Wenham: Organic waste pick-up program nears goal
Wilmington: Land purchase led to library bookstore

2010
Bedford: Coordination boosts parent-education series
Dedham: Partnership helps alleviate foreclosure pain
Medford: Wind turbine marks progress in sustainability campaign

2009
Dennis: Blog spreads awareness of planning process
Natick shapes strategic planning to fit town government
Worcester moved quickly to confront foreclosure crisis

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MMA on state budget

This today from the Massachusetts Municipal Association, with a good summary of the state budget issues –

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LEGISLATIVE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE FINALIZING FISCAL 2019 STATE BUDGET – MILLIONS IN MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL FUNDING AT STAKE

 

PLEASE CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY TO SUPPORT LOCAL AID FUNDING AND KEY MUNICIPAL ISSUES

June 7, 2018

 

Dear Osler Peterson,

 

Now that the House and Senate have each passed their own versions of next year’s fiscal 2019 state budget, the next step is for a conference committee to iron out the differences and present a balanced budget for adoption by July 1.

 

While both budgets would increase municipal and school aid, there are significant differences between the branches, especially in funding for essential K-12 education accounts. It is imperative that you contact your legislators today and ask them to support the full appropriations, and make municipal and education aid a top priority.

 

Earlier this morning, the MMA delivered a detailed letter to the conference committee emphasizing the key local aid accounts that need to be funded at the highest possible level. Please call your legislators today and ask them to support the highest possible funding amounts for these municipal and school aid programs.

 

Please click here to download a copy of the MMA’s letter, so you can read and reference it when you speak with your legislators

 

The House and Senate budgets would both add to the municipal and school aid recommendations made by the governor in January, which is good news. When you talk with your local legislators, please thank them for making local aid a priority during the budget process this year, and ask that they contact conference committee members in support of the highest possible funding for municipal and school aid.

 

Millions of dollars are at stake: if the conference committee agrees on full funding by adopting the higher number for municipal and school aid accounts, this would return over $75 million more to cities and towns, compared to the funding that would result from adopting the lower number.

 

Here is a summary of the key priorities for cities and towns:

 

Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA)

The House and Senate both appropriated $1.099 billion for the Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) account, an increase of $37.2 million over the fiscal 2018 level of funding. The 3.5 percent increase reflects the policy of increasing general municipal aid at the rate of growth in state tax collections reflected in the consensus tax forecast. This policy has been adopted by the Governor and the House and Senate since fiscal 2016, and is supported by the MMA. The good news is that the $37.2 million UGGA increase has already been agreed to by the House and Senate!

 

Chapter 70 School Aid and Local Contributions

The House funds the basic requirements of Chapter 70 education aid (7061-0008 and section 3), adopts provisions to continue to implement the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, phases in target share funding for those communities where the local contribution exceeds the target share amount, and funds minimum aid at $30 per student. This would provide a Chapter 70 increase of $124.6M – which is significantly higher than the $103.6M increase in the governor’s budget proposal.

 

The Senate budget builds on the House approach by closing 100% of the target share gap and establishing an enhanced English language learner (ELL) foundation budget factor. These two changes would provide a Chapter 70 increase of $160.6M, or $36M more than the House. The MMA is supporting the Senate funding level.

 

Both the House and Senate would supplement Chapter 70 by providing $12.5 million to provide assistance to communities impacted by changes in how low-income students are counted. They do this in different accounts. What matters is that the final budget maintain the $12.5 million.

 

Special Education Circuit Breaker

Please ask your legislators to support the Senate’s full funding of the Special Education Circuit Breaker Program at $319.3 million, through which the state provides a measure of support for services provided to high-cost special education students. This is critically important.

 

Charter School Impact Mitigation Payments

Please ask your legislators to support the Senate appropriation of $100 million for Charter School Impact Mitigation Payments (7061-9010). This reflects an increase of $19.5 million above the current fiscal 2018 level of funding. This is a vital account for those communities impacted by charter schools.

 

Charter School Impact Analysis and Accountability

Please ask your legislators to support sections 61 and 62 in the Senate bill, which would bring a much-needed level of accountability related to state decisions to approve new and expanded charter schools that would include an assessment of the impact on local public schools.

 

Regional School District Student Transportation

Please ask your legislators to support the Senate appropriation of $68.9 million to reimburse regional school districts for a portion of the cost of transporting students.

 

McKinney-Vento Homeless Student Transportation

Please ask your legislators to support the House appropriation of $9.1 million for this account to reimburse municipalities and school districts for a portion of the cost of transporting homeless students as required under state and federal rules.

 

Payment in Lieu of Taxes on State-owned Land

Please support the Senate appropriation of $28.5 million to pay a portion of the payment-in-lieu-of taxes amount due to cities and towns to offset the property tax exemption for state-owned land. We support the additional $1.7 million set aside in the Senate appropriation language to ensure that Cherry Sheet PILOT payments next year are not reduced below the fiscal 2018 level due to the revaluation of state-owned land that takes effect next year.

 

Shannon Anti-Gang Grant Program

Please support the Senate level of funding of $8 million for the highly effective and valuable Shannon Anti-Gang Grant Program that has helped cities and towns respond to and suppress gang-related activities.

 

Reserve Fund for Municipal Improvements

Please support the House appropriation that would provide $2.8 million for the District Local Technical Assistance Fund (DLTA) that helps support local efforts to regionalize local government services. Please support the Senate appropriation that includes $2 million to support the Community Compact Cabinet program to facilitate the adoption of municipal best practices in cities and towns.

 

Community Preservation Act

Please support sections 45, 46, 47, 142, 143 and 196 of the Senate bill which would strengthen the Community Preservation Act (CPA) by updating the Registry of Deeds fee schedule to provide adequate revenue to restore the state match to an estimated 30 percent.

 

Municipal Police Training Fund

Please support sections 13, 14, and 70 in the Senate bill that would create a $2 surcharge on each rental car transaction in the Commonwealth to help fund an expanded police training program.

 

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact MMA Legislative Director John Robertson at 617-426-7272 ext. 122 or jrobertson@mma.org.

 

Thank you very much!

MMA analysis of Gov.’s budget

MMA-2

Dear Osler,

 

GOV. BAKER FILES $40.9 BILLION FY 2019

BUDGET PROPOSAL

• UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID WOULD INCREASE BY $37.2 MILLION (3.5%)

• BASE CHAPTER 70 AID WOULD INCREASE BY $103.6 MILLION (2.2%)

• $15 MILLION IN SCHOOL AID ADDED FOR STUDENTS FROM PUERTO RICO

• MOST OTHER MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL ACCOUNTS LEVEL-FUNDED

 

 

Earlier this afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker submitted a $40.9 billion fiscal 2019 state budget plan with the Legislature, proposing a spending blueprint that would increase overall state expenditures by 2.6 percent, as the Administration seeks to close an ongoing structural budget deficit by restraining spending across the board and placing an estimated $96 million into the state’s rainy day fund. The budget relies on $95 million in one-time revenues.

 

As Gov. Baker pledged to local officials on Jan. 19 at the MMA’s Annual Meeting, his budget includes a $37.2 million increase in Unrestricted General Government Aid, and $103.6 million more for Chapter 70 school aid. The Gov.’s proposal for Chapter 70 aid includes a minimum aid increase of $20-per-student, full funding of the foundation budget requirements, and continued implementation of the “target share” equity provisions. The foundation budget calculation would continue modest progress to implement the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s recommendation to use a more realistic factor for the cost of employee health insurance in school systems.

 

Most other municipal and education aid accounts in the Governor’s budget proposal would remain at fiscal 2018 levels. The special education circuit breaker would increase by $10 million, but would remain underfunded by about $20 million. Payments-in-lieu of taxes ($26.8M), regional school transportation ($61.5M), Shannon anti-gang grants ($6M), McKinney-Vento reimbursements ($8.1M) and METCO ($20.6M) would all be level-funded at fiscal 2018 amounts.

 

The Governor would level-fund charter school reimbursements at $80.5 million, a painful proposal that is approximately $85 million below the amount necessary to fully fund the statutory formula that is designed to offset a portion of the amount that communities are required to transfer to charter schools. Level-funding this account would lead to the continued and growing diversion of Chapter 70 funds away from municipally operated school districts, and place greater strain on the districts that serve 96% of public school children.

 

 

Click here to see the Division of Local Services preliminary fiscal 2019 Cherry Sheet aid amounts for your community, based on the Governor’s proposed budget (you will need to insert the name of your community in the field)

 

Click here to see DESE’s calculation of fiscal 2019 Chapter 70 aid and Net School Spending requirements for your city, town, or regional school district, based on the Governor’s proposed budget

 

 

UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID INCREASED BY $37.2 MILLION

In a major victory for cities and towns, House 2 (the Governor’s fiscal 2019 budget submission) would provide $1.1 billion for UGGA, a $37.2 million increase over current funding. This fulfills one of Gov. Baker’s major promises to increase direct municipal aid by the same rate of growth as state tax revenues.

 

The $37.2 million would increase UGGA funding by 3.5 percent, the same rate of growth projected for state tax revenues. Every city and town would see their UGGA funding increase by this 3.5 percent growth rate.

 

CHAPTER 70 SCHOOL AID WOULD GO UP JUST 2.2 PERCENT

The Governor’s budget submission proposes a small 2.2 percent increase in Chapter 70 education aid of $103.6 million, providing every city, town and school district with a minimum increase of $20 per student. The Governor’s budget would continue to implement the target share provisions enacted in 2007. The Governor’s budget includes a partial reflection of one of the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s key recommendations, which is updating the foundation budget to reflect the cost of employee health insurance. But this adjustment in the foundation budget is not enough to increase aid to many districts. A high majority of cities, towns and districts would only receive an increase of $20 per student under the Governor’s budget. This below-inflation increase is too low, and would force communities to reduce school programs or further shift funds from the municipal side of the budget.

 

Please ask your Legislators to support a funding increase for Chapter 70 school aid that ensures that all schools receive a suitable and appropriate increase in fiscal 2019, which the MMA believes should be at least $100 per student. The MMA also strongly supports implementation of all of the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission to update the Chapter 70 “foundation budget” minimum spending standards for special education and employee health insurance, and to add to the spending standard a measure of recognition for the cost of services for low-income, English Language Learner (ELL) and other students who would benefit from more intensive services. The Commission recommended phasing in the changes over a four-year period, a position the MMA supports as well. Increasing minimum aid and fixing the inadequacies in the foundation formula are essential.

 

SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER UNDERFUNDED

The Governor’s budget would add $9.9 million to fund the Special Education Circuit Breaker program at $291.1 million. Because special education costs are expected to rise in fiscal 2019, this means that the Governor’s budget underfunds reimbursements by approximately $20 million. This is a vital account that every city, town and school district relies on to fund state-mandated services. The MMA will again be asking lawmakers to ensure full funding in fiscal 2019.

 

CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS LEVEL FUNDED AT $80.5 MILLION

As noted above, the Governor would level-fund charter school reimbursements at $80.5 million, far below the amount necessary to fully fund the statutory formula that was originally established to offset a portion of the funding that communities are required to transfer to charter schools. The fiscal 2018 funding level is $73 million BELOW what is necessary to fund the reimbursement formula that is written into state law, so it is clear that the shortfall will grow significantly in fiscal 2019. MMA’s estimate is that this account is at least $85 below what is necessary. This would lead to the continued and growing diversion of Chapter 70 funds away from municipally operated school districts, and place greater strain on the districts that serve 96% of public school children. Solving the charter school funding problem must be a major priority during the budget debate.

 

REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION REIMBURSEMENTS LEVEL FUNDED

Gov. Baker’s budget submission would level-fund regional transportation reimbursements at the $61.5 million amount. This will be a hardship for virtually all communities in regional districts. Reimbursements for transportation of out-of-district vocational students remains significantly underfunded at $242K. Increasing these accounts is a priority for cities and towns.

 

McKINNEY-VENTO REIMBURSEMENTS LEVEL FUNDED

The Governor’s budget would level-fund reimbursements for the transportation of homeless students at $8.1 million. The impact of this funding level will vary from community-to-community depending on the number of homeless families that remain sheltered in local hotels and motels. The Administration has been successful in reducing the number of homeless students who are dislocated from their original district, but those communities that continue to provide transportation to many students may continue to see shortfalls.

 

PAYMENTS-IN-LIEU-OF-TAXES (PILOT) AND SHANNON GRANTS LEVEL FUNDED, AND LIBRARY AID UP $191K

The Governor’s budget would level fund PILOT payments at $26.77 million, Shannon anti-gang grants at $6 million, and fund library grant programs at $19.3 million (up $191K).

 

GOV. PROPOSES APPLYING HOTEL-MOTEL TAX TO AIRBNB AND OTHER SHORT-TERM RENTALS, BUT ONLY IF RENTED FOR 150 DAYS

House 2 includes an outside section (section 32) that would subject Airbnb and other short-term rentals to the local room occupancy excise tax. However, this would only apply in cases where the property is rented for 150 days or more. The MMA strongly supports extending the room occupancy excise to ALL short-term rentals. The 150-day threshold would continue to shield a large percentage of seasonal and short-term rentals from taxation, and would not close the loophole that exists now.

 

 

PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY AND CALL ON THEM TO PUBLICLY SUPPORT THE GOVERNOR’S PROPOSAL TO INCREASE UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID BY $37.2 MILLION – THIS INCREASE IS VITAL TO LOCAL BUDGETS IN EVERY CORNER OF MASSACHUSETTS

 

AND PLEASE ASK YOUR LEGISLATORS TO COMMIT TO INCREASING CHAPTER 70 EDUCATION AID, FIXING THE FLAWS IN CHARTER SCHOOL FUNDING, AND FULLY FUNDING KEY MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL PROGRAMS

 

THANK YOU!

Problems for Medfield in the proposed tax legislation, per MMA

This alert from the Massachusetts Municipal Association on the proposed federal tax changes.  Current Medfield State Hospital plans would be DOA if the historic tax credits are eliminated, as plans are not viable without those HTC’s.  See other issues that are bad for towns.

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Dear Osler,

The tax reform debate on Capitol Hill will have real implications for local taxpayers and municipal finance in Massachusetts – the current version that the U.S. House of Representatives will be debating next week contains provisions that would increase the tax burden on middle-class taxpayers in our state, and remove important municipal finance tools to build local economies.

Please call your Members of Congress today and ask them to protect local taxpayers by preserving the State and Local Tax (SALT) deductions, the Historic Tax Credit, and all tax-exempt bonds.

Click here for the contact information

for U.S. Representatives and Senators from Massachusetts

In coming days, both chambers of Congress are preparing to take initial votes on a wide-ranging federal tax reform bill. As currently drafted, the bill would have a negative impact on cities and towns through four major policy changes: it eliminates State and Local Tax Deductions (SALT), caps property tax deductions, eliminates deductibility of key municipal bonds, and axes the Historic Tax Credit.

Ending SALT deductions would violate a 104-year promise by the Federal Government against double taxation. This provision would have a drastic impact on taxpayers and municipal governments across the Commonwealth. Over half of Massachusetts’ taxpayers deduct state and local taxes, and all would see a painful increase in their tax burden should this bill become law. This would make it much harder for municipal and state officials to fund key services, due to the higher effective tax rate on households in Massachusetts.

Eliminating the Historic Tax Credit would harm investments in our communities. This is especially important for states such as Massachusetts, with many older buildings and factories in need of preservation and redevelopment.

Capping the property tax deduction at $10,000 would be especially painful for citizens of the Commonwealth, where there are already over two dozen communities in which the average property tax bill is higher than that limit today. Capping this deduction will make it harder for communities to fund vital services such as public schools, police and fire services, and infrastructure.

Provisions revoking the tax-exempt status of Private Activity Bonds (PABs) and eliminating Advanced Bond Refunding would damage local finances and economic development. PABs are an essential tool used to leverage private investment in much-needed local housing and economic development projects, while Advanced Bond Refunding allows taxpayers to refinance and save money on municipal bonds during economic downturns.

The MMA opposed these provisions in a press conference with Senator Edward Markey after Congressional leaders released their plan last week, because of the negative impact this bill would have on cities and towns in the Commonwealth.

Click here to read the National League of Cities’ statement opposing the elimination of SALT deductions.

Also, click here to read a letter to Congress on this issue from the NLC, signed by the MMA and 21 other state municipal associations from across the country.

 

It is critically important that our Congressional delegation hear from you on this issue. This bill would lead to an unprecedented double taxation of Massachusetts citizens, harm investments in local communities, and cost taxpayers more to finance municipal obligations.

A broad nonpartisan coalition is working to protect municipal concerns. Changes to tax policy should be balanced and well thought out, which is why the MMA has joined with a wide range of nonpartisan groups to protect cities and towns, including the National League of Cities, the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the International City/County Management Association, the US Conference of Mayors, and the Government Finance Officers Association. US Senators Markey and Warren, and Governor Baker have all voiced opposition to eliminating key taxpayer protections, such as the State and Local Tax Deduction (SALT).

Also, the MMA would like to thank Congressman Richard Neal (1st Congressional District in Western Mass.), the Ranking member of the House Ways & Means Committee for his steadfast support of municipal concerns during the committee deliberations this week.

If you have any questions about the bill or its impacts, please do not hesitate to call or email MMA Legislative Analyst David Lakeman at 617-426-7272 at any time.

 

PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES AND SENATORS TODAY

MMA says state budget protected municipalities

This alert came yesterday from the Massachusetts Municipal Association with its analysis of the state budget that passed the legislature this week: “Legislators recognize that cities and towns have already passed their fiscal 2018 budgets, which is why they protected the UGGA and Chapter 70 increases that were announced earlier this year and included in the House and Senate budgets.”

MMA

July 7, 2017
 

LEGISLATURE’S FY 2018 STATE BUDGET FULLY FUNDS 39.9 MILLION UGGA INCREASE

LAWMAKERS VOTE TODAY ON THE BUDGET AFTER LOWERING FY 2018 REVENUE ESTIMATES BY $700M

IN SPITE OF WIDESPREAD CUTS TO STATE ACCOUNTS, LEGISLATORS MAINTAIN KEY INVESTMENTS IN MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL AID

• INCLUDES THE FULL $39.9M INCREASE IN UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID (UGGA)

• INCREASES CHAPTER 70 TO $4.75B TO FUND MINIMUM AID AT $30 PER STUDENT

• CH. 70 INCLUDES $12.5M TO PROTECT AGAINST LOST FUNDING FOR LOW-INCOME STUDENTS

• ADDS $4M TO SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER

• LEVEL-FUNDS MOST OTHER MUNICIPAL AND SCHOOL ACCOUNTS

• AIRBNB LODGING TAX REFORMS DEFERRED TO SEPARATE LEGISLATION 

 

Earlier this morning, the Legislature’s budget conference committee reported out a lean $40.2 billion fiscal 2018 state budget plan that is based on a $700 million reduction in expected tax revenues for next year. Very weak tax collections this year have created a $440 million hole in the FY 2017 budget, and forced lawmakers to make a $700 million downward adjustment in their FY 2018 forecast.

The House and Senate have scheduled formal sessions for this afternoon (Friday, July 7th), and it is expected that legislators will vote to approve and send the budget to Governor Baker today. The Governor will then have 10 days to sign, veto or recommend changes to the appropriations and outside sections.

While the Legislature’s budget enacts widespread reductions in state budget accounts, Representatives and Senators are clearly protecting and prioritizing municipal and school aid, as the conference committee budget (H. 3800) makes key investments in local aid priorities, including a $39.9 million increase in unrestricted municipal aid (UGGA), a $119 million increase in Chapter 70 school aid, and a $4 million increase in special education reimbursements. The remaining accounts are generally level funded.

Legislators recognize that cities and towns have already passed their fiscal 2018 budgets, which is why they protected the UGGA and Chapter 70 increases that were announced earlier this year and included in the House and Senate budgets. Any last-minute reductions in UGGA or Chapter 70 would have disrupted local budgets and forced mid-year cuts. Fortunately, lawmakers went to great lengths to prevent this.

Please Click this Link Now to Download H. 3800, the Legislature’s Fiscal 2018 Budget – You Can See Your Community’s UGGA and Chapter 70 Amounts in Section 3 of the Budget, which Starts on Page 226
$39.9 MILLION INCREASE IN UNRESTRICTED MUNICIPAL AID
In a major victory for cities and towns, the Legislature’s fiscal 2018 budget plan provides $1.061 billion for UGGA, a $39.9 million increase over current funding – the same increase proposed by Governor Baker and voted by the House and Senate. Almost all of UGGA funding comes from $985M in expected Lottery proceeds and $65M from the Plainridge gaming facility. The full $39.9 million UGGA increase is a top priority for cities and towns, because municipalities are counting on these funds to balance their budgets and maintain essential services for their residents.

CHAPTER 70 MINIMUM AID WOULD INCREASE TO $30 PER STUDENT
With $4.75 billion for Chapter 70 aid, the Legislature’s budget includes a $119 million increase in Chapter 70 education aid (this is $27.5 million higher than the $91.4 million increase in House One), providing a minimum aid increase of at least $30 per student (compared to the $20-per-student amount in the Governor’s budget). The Legislature’s budget continues to implement the target share provisions enacted in 2007, and builds on the proposal by the Governor to start addressing shortfalls in the foundation budget framework. The Legislature’s budget increases foundation budget funding by adding more weight to the health insurance cost factor.

The Legislature’s budget includes $12.5M in the Chapter 70 appropriation to hold school districts harmless from changes in the method of counting low-income students. This is similar to the Legislature’s handling of the problem in the fiscal 2017 budget. H. 3800 includes language stating that this “transitional” assistance to address the problems in calculating low-income student costs is included in the per-district distribution amounts listed in Section 3 of the budget.

In the context of a very tight budget year, the Legislature’s increase in Chapter 70 funding is certainly welcome progress. The MMA continues to give top priority to full funding for the Foundation Budget Review Commission’s recommendations, and over the long-term will work to build on this increase.

$4 MILLION INCREASE FOR THE SPECIAL EDUCATION CIRCUIT BREAKER
In another budget advancement for cities and towns, the Legislature’s budget would add $4 million to the Special Education Circuit Breaker program, providing $281 million. The Governor’s budget proposed level-funding at $277 million. The $4 million increase is a step forward, although this is still short of full funding for a vital program that every city, town and school district relies on to fund state-mandated services. The MMA will work to continue building on this welcome increase.

FUNDING FOR CHARTER SCHOOL REIMBURSEMENTS REMAINS FLAT
The Legislature’s budget would level-fund charter school reimbursements at $80.5 million, far below the amount necessary to fully fund the statutory formula that was originally established to offset a portion of the funding that communities are required to transfer to charter schools. The fiscal 2017 funding level is $54.6 million below what is necessary to fund the reimbursement formula that is written into state law. If this program is level funded, the shortfall will grow to an estimated $76.4 million in fiscal 2018. This would lead to the continued and growing diversion of Chapter 70 funds away from municipally operated school districts, and place greater strain on the districts that serve 96% of public school children. Solving the charter school funding problem is a major priority for the MMA.

REGIONAL SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION, PAYMENTS-IN-LIEU-OF-TAXES (PILOT), LIBRARY AID ACCOUNTS, METCO, McKINNEY-VENTO, AND SHANNON ANTI-GANG GRANTS
Compared to current fiscal 2017 appropriations, the Legislature’s fiscal 2018 budget increases Regional School Transportation Reimbursements by $1 million (up to $61.5 million), a very important account for smaller and rural communities. The budget would level-fund PILOT payments at $26.77 million, add $188K to library grant programs, level-fund METCO, and fund McKinney-Vento reimbursements at $8.1 million, a reduction of $250K. The Legislature’s budget would level-fund Shannon Anti-Gang Grants at $6 million.

CONFERENCE COMMITTEE BUDGET DEFERS IMPORTANT IMPROVEMENTS TO THE LOCAL AND STATE LODGING EXCISE TAX TO SEPARATE LEGISLATION
The Legislature’s final budget defers action on important reforms to the room occupancy excise. Progress on this issue will now focus on separate legislation that is being crafted by Rep. Aaron Michlewitz in the House. The Senate budget had included language to close loopholes that allow the increasing variety of transient and other short-term rentals to escape taxation, including rentals through Airbnb and other similar online companies and through on-line re-sellers. These are important steps to bring parity and a level-playing field to the collection of lodging excise payments, and the MMA will continue to work hard to achieve passage this year.

Please Call Your Representatives and Senators Today to Say Thank You for the Local Aid Investments in the Legislature’s Budget – Including the $39.9 Million Increase in Unrestricted Local Aid and the $119 Million Increase in Chapter 70 School Aid

Thank You Very Much!

 

MMA’s agenda

MMA

This from the Massachusetts Municipal Association this week with its agenda items:

January 30, 2017
MMA FILES LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE

PLEASE ASK YOUR LEGISLATORS TO BE CO-SPONSORS

The Deadline for Signing is Friday, February 3, at 5 p.m.

The MMA has filed 19 local government bills approved by the Board of Directors for consideration by the Legislature in the new 2017-2018 legislative session.

The bills have been filed by lead sponsors in the House and Senate and now are available to be signed by legislators wishing to be co-sponsors. Co-sponsors are important. Please ask your legislators to sign on to these municipal bills. House and Senate members can sign on and co- sponsor bills that have been filed in either branch. The deadline is Friday, February 3, at 5 p.m. If your legislators are lead sponsors, please tell them thank you.

Many of the MMA’s proposals are continued priorities from previous sessions, and eight are new measures, including legislation to provide cities and towns with new local-option tax options, and a bill to increase municipal authority over utility companies’ use of city and town roadways. Among the refiled petitions are bills that would reform parts of Civil Service, allow cities and towns to set the number of local liquor licenses in their communities, and provide marketing assistance for local economic development campaigns.

Below is a list of the MMA legislative package with brief description of each, and the House and Senate docket numbers along with the names of the lead sponsors. A more detailed description of each bill is on the MMA website at the following link: http://www.mma.org/advocacy/mma-legislative-package. These measures are stand-alone proposals; the MMA’s entire legislative agenda is much broader, and includes dozens of priorities in the annual state budget bill, and work with the Legislature to support or oppose hundreds of other bills during the session.

Please note that each bill listed below has a temporary docket number that will be changed to a more formal bill number when referred to a legislative committee over the next few weeks.

Local-option excise on alcohol for substance abuse prevention and public health programs
Senate docket 484, Senator Cynthia Creem
This bill would allow cities and towns, upon local vote, to adopt a tax of up to 2 percent on the retail sale of alcoholic beverages, including sales in bars, restaurants, package stores and other non-pouring establishments. The revenue would be dedicated to help pay for local substance abuse and other public health programs.

Payments in lieu of taxation
House docket 1362, Rep. Stephen Kulik
This bill would allow cities and towns, upon local vote, to require certain tax-exempt charitable organizations to make payments in lieu of taxation to host cities and towns equal to 25 percent of what they would pay if the property were not exempt. The bill would require cities and towns to adopt bylaws or ordinances to provide for agreements between the municipality and organizations that may provide for exemptions from payment, consideration of community benefits as payment, and administration of payments.

Local-option fuel excise for transportation and stormwater infrastructure programs
House docket 1109, Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli
This bill would allow cities and towns to adopt a local-option tax on the sale of gasoline and diesel fuel of up to 5 cents per gallon that would be collected in the same manner as the state excise. The revenue would be dedicated to help pay for local transportation programs (infrastructure and services) and stormwater programs.

Local-option meals tax
Senate docket 586, Senator Jason Lewis
The MMA bill would increase the maximum local-option sales tax on meals from 0.75 percent to 1.5 percent.

Identifying financial impacts of proposed environmental regulations
House docket 1384, Rep. Jeffrey Roy
Senate docket 49, Senator Michael Moore
This bill would establish a mechanism for identifying and describing the costs, benefits and financial impacts of proposed environmental rules and regulations before they take effect.

Sustainable water resource funds
House docket 2403, Rep. Carolyn Dykema
Senate docket 393, Senator Jamie Eldridge
This bill would clarify and strengthen the authority of cities and towns to establish water, stormwater, and wastewater utility fees in order to protect municipal public health and meet federal Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act requirements and other state and federal environmental requirements.

Minimum reliability contributions from net metering recipients
Senate docket 1334, Senator Anne Gobi
This bill would exempt municipalities that receive renewable energy net metering credits, low- income and community solar ratepayers from any monthly minimum reliability contribution.

Municipal control of liquor licenses
House docket 561, Rep. Denise Provost
Senate docket 354, Senator Jamie Eldridge
This bill would give the municipal legislative body the authority to set the number of liquor licenses available in the municipality.

Commission to study the administration of veterans’ benefits
House docket 1635, Rep. Stephen Kulik
This bill would create a special commission to study the administration of benefits offered to veterans under Chapter 115 of the General Laws, including which benefits are offered, how they are administered, and the role of local veterans’ service officers.

Marketing prioritized development sites
Senate docket 193, Senator Lewis
This bill would require the Massachusetts Office of Business Development to create and maintain, either independently or through a partnership with an external entity, a statewide searchable database of developable land and vacant sites, with listings submitted at no cost by local officials.

Promoting local economic development
Senate docket 191, Senator Jason Lewis
This bill would create a program to provide funding or other opportunities, such as technical assistance, to municipalities or regions that maximize opportunities for economic development planning and growth by meeting a series of criteria.

Local impacts of enacted legislation
House docket 154, Rep. James Cantwell
Senate docket 336, Senator Anne Gobi
This bill would require the Executive Office, upon signing legislation, to attach a fiscal note specifying the local impacts of the legislation.

Retiree Benefits Trust Fund
House docket 2249, Rep. Alice Peisch
This bill would add two seats to the State Retiree Benefits Trust Fund Board, one municipal seat and one “schools” seat. This proposal would ensure the municipal and regional school district perspectives are recognized on the SRBTF Board.

Civil service reform
House docket 1364, Rep. Stephen Kulik
This bill would allow cities and towns to exit Civil Service at local option without approval by the Legislature. The bill would require the city or town to provide documentation that outlines the local policy or policies that would replace the Civil Service statute.

Municipal unemployment insurance reforms
Senate docket 271, Senator Cynthia Creem
This bill would extend “reasonable assurance” to employees who work on behalf of the school system but are paid through the municipal budget. This would ensure that employees couldn’t collect unemployment insurance benefits when school is not in session. This bill would also address the issue of retirees collecting both unemployment benefits and a pension from the same public or private employer, by reducing unemployment benefits by an amount equal to 65 percent of the employee’s weekly pension.

Structure of the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board
House docket 336, Rep. Aaron Vega
This bill would modify the membership of the Commonwealth Employment Relations Board to require that the three members include a management representative, a labor representative, and a neutral party.

Municipal authority in public rights of way
House docket 2265, Rep. Stephen Kulik
This bill would give municipalities increased authority over utilities that operate in the public right of way. The bill would specify that, if utilities delay in relocating poles and wires, municipalities have the authority to move poles and wires, and may charge utilities for non-performance. It would give municipalities the authority to adopt bylaws and ordinances related to imposing fees and fines, assessing taxes, and licensing and permitting of utility companies that operate in the public right of way.

Municipal purchase of utility poles
House docket 2279, Rep. Stephen Kulik
This bill would give municipalities and public utilities the right to purchase utility poles from investor-owned utilities at a price that takes into account depreciation in value of the utility poles.

Seat belts on school buses
House docket 1973, Rep. Joseph McGonagle
This bill would require that all school buses in the Commonwealth be equipped with seat belts within five years.

PLEASE ASK YOUR LEGISLATORS TO BE CO-SPONSORS

Thank You!

Brexit to cost Medfield $

MMA

MMA alert today –


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

STATE BUDGET WOES DEEPEN, STATE FACING FISCAL 2017 REVENUE GAP OF UP TO $950 MILLION

PLEASE CALL YOUR LEGISLATORS TODAY TO ENSURE THAT CITIES AND TOWNS ARE PROTECTED AS LAWMAKERS SEEK TO CLOSE WIDENING FISCAL 2017 DEFICIT

Brexit Vote Destabilizes World Economy, State Leaders Predict Further Loss of Tax Revenue for Fiscal 2017

As we reported in an MMA Action Alert yesterday (Monday), deliberations on the fiscal 2017 state budget have been thrown into disarray by a major slump in state tax collections. Unfortunately, the state’s fiscal picture has darkened even more.

Late yesterday afternoon, Governor Baker announced that the revenue shortfall for fiscal 2017 is likely to be $200 million worse than the gloomy projections made less than two weeks ago, mostly as a result of widespread unrest and financial volatility stemming from the Brexit vote, combined with lower-than-expected tax collections as the state closes fiscal year 2016.

The new estimate is that fiscal 2017 tax revenues will be $650 million to $950 million lower than originally thought.

This is bad news, because a revenue loss of this magnitude will force deep cuts across all aspects of the new state budget. The three separate fiscal 2017 budgets set by the Governor, House and Senate were all based on the original, higher revenue projection, which means all of the plans are out of balance.

The Legislature has passed a temporary 1-month budget to cover state obligations through the end of July and provide some breathing room for legislators while they dramatically scale back their fiscal 2017 budget.

It is imperative to remind your legislators that cities and towns have already set their budgets based on reasonable estimates of local aid and education funding. Any cuts to municipal or school accounts would trigger major budget problems in all 351 cities and towns. Any local aid reductions at this point would be incredibly disruptive, and would force communities to reopen their already-passed budgets and impose mid-year cuts.

Please call your legislators today to oppose cuts to Cherry Sheet Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA), Chapter 70 school aid and other municipal and school aid accounts that are included in your local spending plans. Reliance on the property tax to fund municipal and school services is at a 30-year high, and it is too late to pursue tax overrides to replace lost local aid. Any local aid reduction would translate into cuts in essential services and programs that are necessary for our economic growth and stability.

Please Call Your Legislators Today and Ask Them to Protect Local Aid