In January 2015, Governor Charlie Baker established the Community Compact Cabinet in order to strengthen partnerships between the administration and municipalities.
Since then, municipalities like Worcester, Acton, West Springfield, Attleboro, Adams, and Newburyport have joined the program, with more than 40 community compacts signed altogether, to promote improvements throughout Massachusetts. Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito has visited more than 120 communities to talk about the program, and more than 125 cities and towns are in the application process.The Office of the Governor explains how the Community Compact works, what it can do for cities and towns, and how municipalities can apply.
What Is a Community Compact?
The Community Compact initiative gives Massachusetts cities and towns the chance to make needed improvements through collaboration with and support from the Commonwealth. Each compact is a voluntary, mutual agreement between the Baker-Polito Administration and the local government. The cabinet, headed by the Lieutenant Governor, enables the state to work closely with leaders from these municipalities to support public interests and develop mutual standards for governing effectively.
How Can the Program Benefit Towns and Cities?
The state offers incentives for communities that join the effort, including:
- A grant program for Compact Communities
- Extra points on certain grants
- Technical resources from the Commonwealth to help communities achieve their goals
How Do Towns and Cities Apply?
All cities and towns in Massachusetts are eligible to participate. Municipalities interested in applying for a Community Compact can submit an application online at any time. All cities and towns have the option of applying with a neighboring community by choosing the regionalization option in the application.
Once a municipality has decided that it wants to implement a Community Compact, local government leaders will need to take the following steps:
- Choose Best Practices — The community must choose one or more best practice areas it wants to implement. The city of Worcester, for example, has pledged to create a public communication and professional development strategy to help improve citizen engagement. Best practice areas fall under the following categories:
- Education — Areas include professional development, higher education, and early education.
- Energy and Environment — Areas include maximizing energy efficiency and renewable options, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and promoting local agriculture.
- Financial Management — Areas include capital planning, reviewing financial management structure, and long-range planning/forecasting.
- Housing and Economic Development — Areas include housing, infrastructure, and job creation and retention.
- Information Technology — Areas include cyber security, citizen engagement, and transparency.
- Transportation and Citizens Safety — Areas include adopting Safe Routes to School programs, adapting streets to accommodate people using all modes of transportation, and promoting safety and mobility for older drivers.
- Regionalization/Shared Services — Includes compacts for municipalities who have submitted jointly with another community.
- Review Goals — The Commonwealth and the municipality will review the best practice areas together to make sure that they are focused on areas that need the most improvement.
- Sign the Compact — Once the goals have been approved, both parties will sign a written agreement. The compact will include the Commonwealth’s commitments to the city or town.
- Implement Best Practices — The community will implement the best practices within two years. The state’s Division of Local Services (DLS) will monitor progress.
The Community Compact initiative enables the state to help municipalities make the improvements they need to better serve Massachusetts residents.
Comment below or tweet @MassGov with any questions about the Community Compact initiative.
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