MMA members endorse 3 policy resolutions

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The MMA membership on Jan. 25 unanimously endorsed three policy resolutions that will guide MMA’s advocacy work this year on three key issues: local aid, zoning and land use reform, and other post-employment benefits (OPEB).
The 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.
The resolutions are as follows:
Resolution Ensuring a Strong Partnership Between Cities and Towns and the Commonwealth in Fiscal 2015 and Beyond
Resolution Ensuring a Strong and Productive Role for Cities, Towns and Community Residents To Promote and Ensure Effective Land Use and Housing Policies
Resolution Ensuring Sustainable OPEB Costs for Cities and Towns and Local Taxpayers
The revenue-sharing resolution, developed by the MMA’s Fiscal Policy Committee, calls for unrestricted municipal aid to grow each year at the same rate as the growth in state tax collections, and for cities and towns to receive the full distribution of Lottery proceeds, as originally intended by the law that created the Lottery. The revenue resolution also calls for full funding of the state’s commitments on a range of programs and mandates, an increase in Chapter 70 education aid, and a re-examination of the adequacy and scope of the “foundation budget” to make sure that Chapter 70 accounts for the full cost of educating students, among other recommendations.
The land-use resolution, developed by the MMA’s Policy Committee on Municipal and Regional Administration, calls on the state to collaborate with municipalities in the development of land-use and housing policy, and to respect the “fundamental right” of cities and towns to control land use decisions and regulations. Among other recommendations, the resolution calls for the state “to recognize the diversity of municipalities across the Commonwealth” and to provide incentives, tools and technical assistance to realize housing and development goals, rather than penalties.
The OPEB resolution, developed by the MMA’s Policy Committee on Personnel and Labor Relations, calls for meaningful reform legislation that would “provide real moderation of growth in the unfunded liability within the first decade and not delay needed … cost controls.” The resolution points out that Massachusetts cities and towns face OPEB liabilities that are twice as large as pension liabilities, and that OPEB costs are growing far faster than municipal revenues, a situation that would necessitate job and core service cuts unless there is reform.
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.