Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
The Honorable Daniel J. Hunt, Chair
The Honorable John Barrett III, Vice Chair
House Committee on Federal Stimulus and Census Oversight
State House, Boston
Dear Chair Hunt, Vice-Chair Barrett and Distinguished Members of the House Committee on Federal Stimulus and Census Oversight:
On behalf of the cities and towns of the Commonwealth, the Massachusetts Municipal Association very much appreciates your support for local government. We look forward to working with you and your colleagues in the House and Senate as you develop a spending plan for the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds, received through the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
In order to have a healthy and sustainable economic recovery in every region of Massachusetts, cities and towns will continue to rely on a strong state-local partnership. While we are pleased that cities and towns will receive much-needed direct relief from the federal government with the passage of ARPA, it is important to acknowledge that this federal funding can be maximized across the state through a coordinated effort between state government and municipalities.
We are writing today regarding, H. 3922, An Act Relative to Immediate COVID Recovery Needs in support of line items that are of particular interest to municipalities, in addition to the proposed increased funding for housing and economic development projects, and urge swift action to move forward on these important priorities.
Water and Sewer Infrastructure
We strongly support the proposed $400 million investment in water and sewer infrastructure (1599-2032). Under this account, funds could be used for sewer separation projects or other methods of remediating combined sewer overflow into waterways, and to shore up the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund under the Clean Water Trust. All 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts can identify priority water and sewer infrastructure repairs or upgrades their community desperately needs but cannot easily finance. Our municipalities are struggling to deal with aging infrastructure at the same time as increased severe weather events bring more stormwater, flooding, and drought. And as more and more communities identify PFAS contaminants in their public drinking water supplies, and PFAS is detected in other sources such as rivers and turf fields, funds for water and environmental treatment will be put to quick and beneficial use.
Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness
We also urge support for the proposed $300 million for environmental infrastructure (1599-2031). Specifically, this funding would be directed to municipal vulnerability preparedness planning and action grants (MVP), a very successful program that helps cities and towns to identify key climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities, and strengths, and fund projects that promote local and regional climate adaptation and resilience. To date, more than 90% of Massachusetts municipalities are enrolled in the MVP program, and in the most recent grant funding round in Fall 2020, more than $11 million was distributed through both planning and action grants. With such a high engagement rate and thousands of priority projects identified through the planning process in communities across the Commonwealth, requests for action grants far exceed the available funding in the Global Warming Solutions Trust Fund. The proposed $300 million spending for the MVP program would enable more projects to be approved in each grant round and provide a stable source of long-term funding as the program expands its reach.
This is a critical time for cities and towns. We know that you and your colleagues in the House and Senate continue to be outstanding partners for communities across the Commonwealth, and we look forward to working with you to not only recover from the pandemic, but to thrive, over the coming years. The Commonwealth has a unique opportunity with federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to make historic investments in infrastructure to improve water quality across the state, and prepare municipalities for the current impacts and inevitable effects of climate change.
Thank you very much for your support, dedication and commitment to the cities and towns of Massachusetts.
Geoffrey C. Beckwith
MMA Executive Director & CEO