Lexington Town Manager Jim Malloy, chair of the MMA Fiscal Policy Committee, introduces the resolution on a fiscal partnership between cities and towns and state government at the MMA Annual Business Meeting on Jan. 19 in Boston.

The MMA membership on Jan. 19 unanimously endorsed two policy resolutions, on the important issues of local aid and recycling and solid waste.

The resolutions send an important message to state leaders about municipal priorities and will guide the MMA’s work in the year ahead.

Revenue sharing
The Resolution Ensuring a Strong and Enduring Fiscal Partnership Between Cities and Towns and State Government in Fiscal 2020 and Beyond was developed by the MMA’s Fiscal Policy Committee.

The resolution calls on state government to provide cities and towns with an adequate share of state revenues, an effective municipal tax system, and tools to help manage long-term liabilities. It identifies priorities voiced by local officials from all parts of the state on municipal and education aid and many other areas where state and local governments intersect.

The resolution points out that “adequate and stable” state revenue sharing – through the Cherry Sheet, targeted appropriations and grant programs – is absolutely necessary to ensure healthy and strong cities and towns and a vibrant economy. Cities and towns, the resolution points out, have become increasingly over-reliant on the tightly capped property tax to fund local budgets and deliver essential services.

The resolution calls on the state to fulfill its funding commitments on items such as special education, charter school reimbursements, student transportation, out-of-district vocational education, and payments in lieu of taxes.

The state should also phase in the recommendations of the Foundation Budget Review Commission to update the Chapter 70 “foundation budget” minimum adequate spending standards for special education and health insurance for school employees and retirees, and to fully recognize the cost of services for low-income, English Language Learner and other students who would benefit from more intensive services.

The resolution also calls for a $300 million per year Chapter 90 local road and bridge program, indexed to grow with inflation, and support for new flexibility to adopt local-option taxes and other revenues.

Recycling
The Resolution Supporting a Local-State-Federal Partnership to Address the Challenges to the Recycling Marketplace was proposed by the MMA Policy Committee on Energy and the Environment.

The resolution points out that the U.S. faces a solid waste crisis and the recycling marketplace faces serious challenges that have stretched municipal budgets and limited options for processing recyclable materials.

The resolution calls for municipal officials and the MMA to participate in state and federal policy development regarding solid waste management and recycling. It calls for state and federal policy to support efforts to reduce the waste stream and product packaging and to invest in recycling infrastructure and education.

“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 resolution states.

The state and federal governments should work to create new markets for processing recyclable materials and 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 waste stream.

The resolution also states municipal support for the recycling of materials like organics and textiles, and the development of new technologies for sustainable waste disposal, such as trash-to-energy, gasification and other innovations.

Resolution development
The two resolutions were developed over the summer and fall by MMA policy committees comprising local officials from across the state, and they were endorsed in November by the MMA Board of Directors.

Some 300 officials representing their individual municipalities voted on the resolutions at the MMA’s Annual Business Meeting in Boston.

While discussion was welcomed during the Annual Business Meeting, the policy committees that drafted the resolutions also solicited member comments for a four-week period prior to the meeting.

The full resolutions can be found under Advocacy.

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