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Community-Compact-Logo-v2Yesterday was an important milestone for local governments here in Massachusetts. After several months spent touring the state and meeting with mayors from dozens of communities, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito returned to Worcester, Gardner, and Agawam to sign the first Community Compact agreements.

These Community Compacts, part of the administration’s Executive Order to Strengthen Municipal Partnerships, outline the mutual goals of a given municipality and the administration and solidify the partnership between local and state government. These contracts feature a best practice or best practices the city or town is seeking to accomplish with the support of the Baker-Polito Administration.

As former selectmen for their hometowns, Governor Baker and Lieutenant Governor Polito both understand the importance of strengthening our communities at the municipal level. “Sometimes it takes the Commonwealth months — four, five, six, seven, eight months — to respond to cities and towns on relatively simply requests that they need to be able to move and make decisions on,” Governor Baker lamented in January.

Lt. Governor Polito has already visited 59 communities to discuss the compact, and looks forward to stopping in many more in the coming months.  Through these meetings along her “Building Stronger Communities” tour, she has determined the best practices that cities and towns are looking to the state for help implementing.

Additionally, the tour helped the Lieutenant Governor realize that best practices for the Commonwealth are not uniform but rather vary from town to town. Therefore, the administration has taken a more targeted approach to helping municipalities with the community contracts. According to Lt. Governor Polito, they were designed “for the community to self select what they want to achieve as a best or better practice in their community. It’s not as directed by the state but really comes up through the community and what they have as a vision for their city or town.”

The applications for the Community Compacts were released earlier this month. Any community within the Commonwealth is eligible to apply. Over the two year period of the Community Compact, the best practices the participating cities and towns select will be implemented, and when necessary, with technical assistance of the state. The applications, to be filled out by mayors and town managers, are reviewed by the Senior Deputy Commissioner of Local Services who, upon their approval, will reach out to the community about the next steps.

The first three towns that applied were the first three the administration selected: Worcester, Gardner, and Agawam. Each community is excited to see what this partnership with the state will bring. “The opportunity to work with Lieutenant Governor Polito and leverage the resources of State Government to improve Worcester’s communications and engagement is a wonderful opportunity,” said Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty.

Gardner Mayor Mark P. Hawke praised the compact program, saying, “I appreciate the Baker-Polito Administration’s willingness to work with Gardner as we work to make our community a better place.”

Richard A. Cohen, Mayor of Agawam, is also looking forward to working alongside the state, remarking that “the Baker-Polito Administration’s offer to help Agawam work towards sufficient and sustainable housing and economic development is an incredible opportunity for our city.”

Aside from a personal relationship with the administration, the cities and towns who apply for Community Compacts will earn points in the scoring system when tallies are counted for certain state grants. There is also a grant program specifically for Compact communities.

The administration hopes to work closely with every town in Massachusetts, and all are encouraged to apply so that the goals of every city and town in our state are listened to and advocated for. In the words of Lieutenant Governor Polito, “It is our hope that many of the municipalities in the Commonwealth will follow these municipalities and enter into Community Compacts.”

To apply for a Community Compact, visit www.mass.gov/ccc. Contact the Division of Local Services with questions regarding the application. The more municipalities that create relationships with our state through these Community Compacts, the better the state of Massachusetts will become. Community Compacts will help connect our large state, making Massachusetts a more tightly knit community.

  

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