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On Monday, December 7th, Governor Charlie Baker and Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito stood before a large and frequently cheering crowd of local officials to introduce the bill, “An Act to Modernize Municipal Finance and Government.” The historic bill will truly modernize the interactions between state and local government.

The bill is centered on four principals:

  • updating and/or eliminating obsolete state laws;
  • promoting independence at the local level;
  • using common sense to streamline state oversight; and
  • providing municipalities with greater flexibility.

The bill presents a comprehensive list of proposals aimed at bringing local government up to speed with how our state and citizens currently operate on a daily basis, including: adopting changes to the civil motor vehicle infraction law to allow cities and towns to issue citations electronically;  allowing municipalities, except Boston, to set the quotas for liquor licenses issued to local bars and restaurants; and, removing unnecessary state oversight that hinders the efficiency of local government in many instances.

This bill was crafted from direct feedback given by local communities. In fact, Lt. Governor Polito has to date met with officials from over 130 municipalities and professional associations. In April, the Administration surveyed municipalities about what changes state government could make to improve their ability to deliver quality services to their constituents in a more cost-effective manner. This survey generated over 1,300 suggestions from over 235 municipalities and school districts. From these 1,300 suggestions the administration found repeated issues local municipalities are facing across the Commonwealth, and is now stepping up to address these concerns.

The “An Act to Modernize Municipal Finance and Government” bill is an important part the Administration’s larger commitment to elevate cities and towns, make them stronger, and improve state-local relationships. It will help local officials create the best communities and town/city hall for residents.

Municipal Modernization Bill Announcement, 12.7.15

On the road with the Governor and Lt. Governor you will here them both say repeatedly that when a community is doing something right, something that is working, they want to support it and share it. This bill will reinforce much of great work already happening across state government to support our 351 cities and towns. With a strengthened partnership between state and municipal officials, we can make sure agencies across state government are working better.

The administration believes there is no better way to invest taxpayer dollars than at the local level—providing municipalities with the ability to make the best decisions for their businesses, schools and communities.

So far, the administration has made considerable investments in local projects, including $85.6 million in MassWorks Infrastructure Awards for 46 communities to support a range of infrastructure investments, including downtown revitalization and funds that will create more than 1200 multifamily housing.

The administration’s commitment at the local level can been felt where it truly counts, in hard numbers.

We have passed a fiscal year 2016 local aid package that:

  • Kept our commitment to grow local aid by 75% of revenue growth.
  • Funded Unrestricted General Government Aid (UGGA) at its highest level since FY10.
  • Funded Ch. 70 education aid at the highest level in the Commonwealth’s history with an additional $100M in funding.

To date, 150 communities have applied to enter into a “Community Compact” with the Commonwealth. So far, 71 communities have signed such a compact [MAP]. The remaining communities’ applications are in the process of being reviewed or have been approved and are waiting for a signing date to be finalized.

Creating compacts with each city and town has helped the administration better understand the strengths and weaknesses on the municipal level—recognizing that a one-size-fits-all approach is not the solution and every zip code has different priorities. These compacts are not cookie cutter; and together the Lt. Governor and local officials have created unique best practices to cater to our cities and towns.

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