Members adopt 4 resolutions at MMA Annual Business Meeting

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At the MMA’s Annual Business Meeting on Jan. 26, members adopted resolutions on the transportation finance crisis, the federal-local partnership, retiree health benefits, and a local-state-federal partnership to protect the environment.
The Resolution Calling for Solutions to the Transportation Finance Crisis, proposed by the MMA’s Policy Committee on Public Works, Transportation and Public Utilities, calls on the state and federal governments to come forward with additional transportation funding and long-range programs in order to rebuild and improve the state and local transportation infrastructure.
The resolution says such action is necessary “in order to build our local and regional economies, enhance economic development, create essential construction jobs, protect and promote safety on roadways, and keep our transportation system moving.”
The resolution calls for a new multi-year state transportation bond authorization that includes at least $300 million per year for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program, a proposal that has already been endorsed by the governor in the 10-year transportation program he put forward on Jan. 14. In anticipation of a lengthy debate on the complex transportation bill, however, members voted unanimously to amend the resolution to call for a one-year, stand-alone Chapter 90 bill for fiscal 2014 to ensure that the funding is available in time for cities and towns to take advantage of the full construction season.
Members also passed a resolution proposed by the MMA’s Fiscal Policy Committee that calls for federal leaders to resolve the government’s fiscal crisis while protecting programs that matter to cities and towns. Such programs include Community Development Block Grants, law enforcement assistance grants, clean water and drinking water funds, Title 1 and IDEA education funds, federal funding for emergency preparedness and homeland security, and Federal Transit Capital Investment Grants.
“Congress and the President must recognize that full economic recovery will be possible only if local governments have the resources necessary to maintain crucial services, many of which depend upon federal funding for operational costs,” the resolution states.
The resolution also calls on federal leaders to protect the tax-exempt status of municipal bonds.
A Resolution on the Urgent Need to Ensure Sustainability for Other Post-Employment Benefit (OPEB) Costs, proposed by the MMA’s Policy Committee on Personnel and Labor Relations, recognizes that retiree health costs are an enormous and unsustainable liability for cities and towns.
The resolution calls on state leaders to “provide a path to reform and sustainability that ensures benefits for retirees that are affordable for taxpayers, and allows for flexibility and locally set practices to ensure solutions that fit each community.”
It also calls for “options for managing OPEB costs that recognize the importance of tools to invest funds,” but opposes “any policy that would impose a prefunding requirement, as such an unfunded mandate would increase property taxes and force cuts in vital municipal and school programs.”
A Resolution Supporting a Local-State-Federal Partnership to Protect the Environment notes the significant municipal accomplishments as “environmental stewards” in Massachusetts, particularly the noteworthy achievements in the area of renewable energy and conservation.
It also cites, however, the “additional costly environmental regulatory requirements, based on incomplete scientific analysis and review,” imposed, without funding, on cities and towns.
The resolution, proposed by the MMA’s Policy Committee on Energy and the Environment, calls on the state and federal governments to “commit to a cooperative partnership with municipalities” and to reject all unfunded mandates. It calls for each state agency proposal to include a fiscal note clearly explaining the benefits and costs imposed on municipal government.
The state should enact, according to the resolution, a multi-year environmental bond bill to fund water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure improvements, and grant authority to cities and towns to establish drinking water, stormwater and sewer infrastructure banks to build, repair and maintain water-related systems.
Each of the four resolutions was drafted by an MMA policy committee in October and approved by the MMA Board of Directors on Nov. 13.
The three policy committees that drafted the resolutions sought member comments on the proposals throughout December. The resolutions, as proposed, were also printed in the December and January issues of The Beacon and posted on the MMA website.
See full text of resolutions