Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
At the MMA’s Annual Business Meeting on Jan. 19, members will consider a resolution on the state-local fiscal partnership and one on partnering with the state and federal government to mitigate the impacts of disruption in the recycling marketplace. (See full text of each resolution below.)
Each resolution was drafted by an MMA policy committee during the fall and approved by the MMA Board of Directors on Nov. 13.
The proposed resolutions are as follows:
• Resolution Supporting an Enduring Fiscal Partnership Between Cities and Towns and State Government in Fiscal 2020 and Beyond, proposed by the MMA Fiscal Policy Committee
• Resolution Supporting a Local-State-Federal Partnership to Address the Challenges to the Recycling Marketplace, proposed by the MMA Policy Committee on Energy and the Environment
The policy committees that drafted the resolutions are welcoming member comments through Dec. 28 so that committee members will be able to review any input before the Annual Business Meeting. Municipal officials may submit any comments to the MMA’s Legislative Division at 1 Winthrop Square, Boston, MA 02110 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Voting at the business meeting
Voting at the Annual Business Meeting is open to all municipal members of the MMA through voting delegates as defined by the MMA’s bylaws.
Individuals eligible to vote at the meeting are:
• In the case of a city, its chief executive or a councillor designated in writing by the chief executive
• In the case of a town, the chair of the board of selectmen or town council, or another selectman or councillor designated in writing by the chair, or the manager designated in writing by such chair
In early January, the MMA will be sending a letter about voting procedures to chief municipal officials in each community.
Those who will be voting on behalf of their community should visit the credentials table outside the business meeting between 9 and 10 a.m. Only one voting card will be issued per member community.
Proposed Resolution Supporting an Enduring Fiscal Partnership Between Cities and Towns and State Government in Fiscal 2020 and Beyond
Whereas, the well-being and success of the residents and businesses of the Commonwealth depend on the fiscal health of cities and towns and the ability of local government to provide efficient and progressive public services and adequately invest in reliable and resilient public infrastructure; and
Whereas, the continuing fiscal strength of local government in Massachusetts will rely on adequate, sustainable and predictable revenues to support local services and capital programs; and
Whereas, cities and towns are highly reliant on the tightly capped property tax to fund local budgets, and this heavy reliance on the property tax has limited the ability of cities and towns to respond to new challenges and opportunities; and
Whereas, the state’s landmark school finance law, Chapter 70, is outdated and no longer provides an adequate minimum spending standard, and the local government share of the cost of schools and public education has grown to a 10-year high; and
Whereas, the state’s charter school finance statute imposes significant financial and program challenges for public school districts, particularly in regions where there is a large concentration of charters; and
Whereas, to avoid becoming overly reliant on the property tax and to ensure that municipalities have the fiscal capacity to deliver the high-quality municipal and school services that are essential to support local economies and families in every corner of the Commonwealth, it is imperative that cities and towns receive an adequate share of state revenues, have an effective and fair municipal tax system, and have the tools necessary to plan for and fund long-term liabilities and make investments in people and capital;
Therefore, it is hereby resolved that the members of the Massachusetts Municipal Association support the following essential policy positions to ensure a strong partnership between cities and towns and the Commonwealth in fiscal 2020 and beyond:
In the Area of Municipal and School Aid
• In fiscal 2020, unrestricted municipal aid should grow by at least the same rate as the growth in state tax collections, and be distributed without earmarks, conditions or restrictions to all cities and towns, so that local officials and residents can adequately fund public safety, public works, and all basic municipal and school services while avoiding overreliance on the property tax;
• The full share of Lottery and gaming revenue dedicated to help pay for municipal services should be used to help fund unrestricted municipal aid;
• Chapter 70 school aid should be increased in fiscal 2020 consistent with the Commonwealth’s constitutional obligation to ensure adequate funding for all schools, including the “foundation budget” adequacy standard, as updated through the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission, the “target share” equity standard, and a reasonable amount of new minimum per student aid;
• The governor and the Legislature should amend Chapter 70 to codify in state law changes to the foundation budget related to spending for special education, employee benefits (mainly health insurance) and the cost of services for low-income and other high-need students;
• The governor and the Legislature should review the calculation of the required local contribution under Chapter 70, including the “municipal revenue growth factor,” and adopt changes to mitigate the rising reliance on the property tax to fund local schools, particularly in cities, towns and districts that educate a significant share of high-need students;
• Beginning in fiscal 2020, the governor and the Legislature should amend the charter school finance law, consistent with MMA-sponsored legislation to limit the charter school tuition assessments placed on local government, and should provide a means for direct state appropriation of additional tuition payments to charter schools, funded in the state budget;
• Full funding of the Commonwealth’s obligations and commitments to the Special Education Circuit Breaker Program, as provided by state law, should be appropriated;
• Full funding of the Commonwealth’s obligations and commitments to the program for payments in lieu of taxes for state-owned land, as provided by state law, should be included in the fiscal 2020 budget;
• Full funding of the Commonwealth’s obligations and commitments to reimburse the costs of regional school transportation, regular school transportation, out-of-district vocational education and the transportation of homeless students under the McKinney-Vento unfunded mandate should be included in the fiscal 2020 budget;
• Full funding of the Commonwealth’s obligations and commitments to Chapter 40S “smart growth” reimbursements, regional and municipal libraries, anti-gang grants, innovation and regionalization grants, and other effective municipal and school aid programs should be included in the fiscal 2020 budget; and
In the Area of Timely Notice of Local Aid for Good Planning and Implementation
• To ensure orderly and efficient financial planning at the local level and implementation of balanced and adequate local operating and capital budgets, the governor and the Legislature should reach early agreement on unrestricted municipal aid and Chapter 70 school aid and local contribution amounts so that a consensus local aid resolution can be approved and reliable Cherry Sheets can be released by March 1; and
In the Area of Local Taxing Authority and Other Revenues
• Cities and towns should be granted new local-option flexibility to adopt local taxes and other revenues to help pay for municipal and school services and the construction and maintenance of local capital projects, including MMA-sponsored legislation related to new or additional local taxes on motor fuels, alcoholic beverages and meals;
• The Legislature should enact and the governor sign legislation, consistent with the room occupancy bill enacted by the Legislature in 2018, to allow for the equitable collection of the room occupancy excise in the case of short-term rentals, including provisions to address the internet-reseller loophole, and legislation should be enacted to review and eliminate loopholes and other unwarranted exemptions related to personal property taxes on telecommunications and other utility property;
In the Area of Long-Term Liabilities and Sustainability
• In order to allow cities and towns to manage current costs and ensure fiscal sustainability over the long term, the governor and the Legislature should undertake a comprehensive reform of the laws and practices governing labor relations and post-employment benefits for public employees, with an immediate focus on Other Post-Employment Benefit (OPEB) liabilities related to health insurance for retired public employees;
In the Area of Capital Budgeting
• The governor and the Legislature should work together early in 2019 to ensure enactment of a multi-year transportation bond bill that provides at least $300 million annually for local road projects, including notice of allocations for fiscal 2020 by April 1, 2019, and include adequate allocations for the Complete Streets and small municipal bridge programs;
• The state’s fiscal 2020 capital plan should include funding for the MassWorks program to help pay for local economic development projects, including housing, development and road safety programs;
• The governor and the Legislature should support new revenues to help finance state, regional and local transportation projects for road, rail and transit projects across the Commonwealth that are critical to economic development and public safety and convenience, and that cities and towns are players in policy development and implementation;
• The governor and the Legislature should support programs in the fiscal 2020 state budget and capital plan to help cities and towns assess and respond to challenges related to climate change, including the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program, Coastal Resilience Grant Program, Green Communities Program and others;
• The governor and the Legislature should continue to make the installation of high-speed internet access in unserved and under-served cities and towns a high priority; and
It is further resolved that a copy of these resolutions shall be provided to the governor and members of the General Court of the Commonwealth.
Proposed Resolution Supporting a Local-State-Federal Partnership to Address the Challenges to the Recycling Marketplace
Whereas, the recycling marketplace in Massachusetts faces serious challenges that have stretched municipal budgets and limited options for processing recyclable materials;
Whereas, the strength of China’s purchasing power for recyclables led to a decline in domestic markets for recyclable materials in the U.S., and the closure of glass and paper processing facilities in Massachusetts;
Whereas, contamination in the Massachusetts recycling stream has increased as a result of a transition to single-stream recycling and gaps in the understanding of residents and businesses as to how to recycle properly;
Whereas, China’s National Sword Policy and the policies of other international purchasers of recyclables from the U.S. limiting the types and amount of recyclable materials exported from the U.S. has disrupted the financial landscape of recycling throughout the country, and in Massachusetts specifically;
Whereas, the U.S. faces a solid waste crisis stemming from overconsumption of material goods, excess packaging and reliance on single-use plastic, and a finite amount of landfill space and other disposal facilities;
Therefore, it is hereby resolved that the members of the Massachusetts Municipal Association support the following essential policy positions to ensure a strong local, state, and federal partnership to address the challenges to the recycling marketplace:
Policy Development and Advocacy
• Municipal officials and the MMA should be active participants in state and federal policy development regarding solid waste management and recycling, including membership on the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee in developing the long-range 2020-2030 Solid Waste Master Plan;
• Municipal officials and the MMA should participate in national, international and local organizations with a diverse range of stakeholders to review and explore ways to address solid waste and recycling challenges and share best practices;
• State and federal policy should support local efforts to reduce the waste stream by limiting or ending the use of hard-to-manage products and materials such as plastic bags, single-use plastic bottles, and Styrofoam and similar products;
• State and federal agencies and lawmakers should take steps to require that manufacturers and third-party sellers reduce the amount of packaging, both recyclable and non-recyclable, that accompanies products for sale;
• Cities and towns should review local procurement practices to explore opportunities to reduce excess packaging and materials and to develop minimal packaging standards;
Waste Diversion and Recycling
• The state should continue its efforts to standardize rules and practices regarding what materials can be recycled, and should provide assistance to cities and towns in educating the public on what and how to recycle properly;
• The state should provide support to municipalities to aid in the enforcement of state and municipal recycling protocols with residents and businesses;
• The state and federal governments should use all of the tools at their disposal to create new markets for processing recyclable materials, both in state and regionally;
• Municipal officials and the MMA should support product stewardship legislation that requires manufacturer responsibility for end-of-life recycling of mattresses, paint cans, electronics and other products than can be diverted from the local waste stream;
• Municipal officials and the MMA support diversion of materials from the solid waste stream, such as organics for composting and textiles for proper recycling;
• The MMA supports full review of regional and local approaches to identifying disposal options for the solid waste that cannot be recycled or otherwise diverted from the waste stream, consistent with state environmental and energy objectives;
State and federal government policymakers, alongside academia and private industry, should support the development of new technologies for sustainable waste disposal, such as trash-to-energy, gasification and other innovations; and
It is further resolved that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the governor of the Commonwealth, the General Court of the Commonwealth, and the members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation.