Sen. Edward Markey (left) addresses members during the MMA Annual Business Meeting on Jan. 21. Recovering from foot surgery, Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke via prerecorded video.

During the MMA’s Annual Business Meeting on Jan. 21 in Boston, the MMA membership unanimously endorsed a policy resolution that highlights priorities considered essential for a healthy state and local fiscal partnership.

The Resolution Ensuring a Strong and Enduring Fiscal Partnership Between Cities and Towns and the Commonwealth in Fiscal 2024 and Beyond, developed and presented by the MMA’s Fiscal Policy Committee, sends an important message to state leaders about municipal priorities and will guide the MMA’s work in the year ahead.

With a new administration taking office and a new legislative session beginning, and with communities continuing to recover from the hardships and challenges of the COVID pandemic, municipal leaders see this as a critical time to communicate key needs.

The resolution calls on the governor and the Legislature to act on a broad fiscal program for local government that includes priorities raised by local officials from all parts of the Commonwealth on municipal and school aid, support for local capital projects, long-term financial liabilities that need to be addressed, and many other areas where state and local governments intersect. The resolution also builds on the policies and principles endorsed at previous MMA Annual Business Meetings.

Some 300 officials representing their individual municipalities voted on the resolution.

The resolution, presented by Northborough Town Administrator John Coderre for the Fiscal Policy Committee, was developed over last summer and fall by the policy committee, comprising local officials from across the state, and was endorsed last November by the MMA Board of Directors. More policy work will be done over the course of the year by MMA committees and the Board of Directors.

While discussion was welcomed during the business meeting, the MMA also solicited member comments for a seven-week period prior to the meeting.

Guest speakers
Before the presentation of the resolution, the MMA membership heard from U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (via videotaped message due to a recent foot surgery) and Ed Markey on major federal initiatives concerning cities and towns, particularly the Coronavirus Relief Fund Municipal Program, the American Rescue Plan Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Inflation Reduction Act, which provide generational opportunities to shore up infrastructure and local services.

“The money is available right now,” Warren said.

Both senators highlighted the opportunities created in the historic Inflation Reduction Act to address the critical issue of climate change, as well as recent legislation to substantially increase flexibility in how ARPA funds can be spent by municipalities. The Massachusetts congressional delegation stood united in leading the successful legislative effort for the ARPA flexibility.

Sen. Warren noted that “economic stability, economic activity and economic development all happen in our cities and towns.”

Sen. Markey noted that the federal aid packages are sending a combined $99 billion to Massachusetts, and that he will continue fighting for funding to support the state’s technology, research and clean energy economy.

Newly inaugurated Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll also addressed the membership, pledging a close partnership between the Healey-Driscoll administration and all cities and towns. (Driscoll also spoke the previous day at the Women Elected Municipal Officials Leadership Luncheon.)

“You certainly have my word that I will be your biggest advocate on Beacon Hill for getting stuff done, every day” she said.

She said the administration has a role to play in helping communities win federal dollars, and that it will build an online dashboard to help local leaders identify and pursue opportunities.

Board meeting and Kulik honors
Following the adoption of the resolution, the 2023 MMA Board of Directors held a brief organizational meeting to elect the association’s new president and vice president.

The business meeting began with a moment of silence in honor of Stephen Kulik, a former MMA president, Selectboard member from Worthington, and state representative who died on Dec. 18 at age 72.g

“Today, the MMA is paying tribute to a remarkable friend, public servant, and MMA leader,” said MMA Executive Director Geoff Beckwith. “He loved this organization, and he was loved by his colleagues.

“Above all, Steve was an insightful, kind and gentle leader, a warm and thoughtful person who was generous with his friendship. He was strong on policy, and soft on people.”

Written by