MMA members approve 3 resolutions

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At the MMA’s Annual Business Meeting on Jan. 21, members unanimously endorsed resolutions that call for higher levels of funding for transportation, oppose unfunded mandates related to water and sewer infrastructure, and encourage the federal government to establish a strong partnership with cities and towns.
The “Resolution on the Transportation Finance Crisis” reflects a state transportation funding deficit estimated by the Massachusetts Transportation Finance Commission at roughly $20 billion over the next two decades, including a $1 billion gap in the Chapter 90 program.
An MMA survey has shown that funding for Chapter 90 has not kept pace with the cost of materials and labor. The MMA’s resolution calls for a new state transportation bond act that would fund Chapter 90 at $300 million a year, representing an increase of $100 million over current levels.
The “Resolution Opposing Unfunded Mandates on the Cities and Towns of the Commonwealth” reflects multibillion-dollar gaps in the ability of the state and municipalities to adequately maintain drinking-water systems and wastewater infrastructure.
In 2009, the state created a Special Water Infrastructure Finance Commission as a means of developing a long-range plan for the state and its cities and towns. In a preliminary report, the commission determined that Massachusetts faces a $10.2 billion gap in the resources needed to adequately maintain drinking water systems, and an $11.2 billion shortfall for resources needed to maintain wastewater infrastructure.
The resolution calls for the federal and state government to “maintain funding amounts established for infrastructure needs, identify the costs of regulations, reduce wastewater and stormwater treatment costs” by establishing a statewide ban on phosphorus in fertilizers, and pass a $16 million dam removal and repair bill to help cities and towns meet their public safety and environmental obligations.
During the business meeting, members adopted an amendment to clarify that the phosphorus ban would not affect commercial agricultural operations.
The resolution also calls for granting municipalities the authority to establish “reasonable fees on developers to repair antiquated infrastructure to allow for economic and residential development.”
The “Resolution Calling on the United States Government to Embrace a Strong Fiscal and Economic Partnership With Cities and Towns” cites a number of federal programs that benefit municipalities, including Community Development Block Grants and Title I education grants for low-income students. The resolution also calls for maintaining the tax exemption for municipal bonds, which are used to fund local infrastructure projects.
The three resolutions, as proposed, were posted on the MMA website in November and printed in the December and January issues of The Beacon.