Gov. Charlie Baker joined STAM to recognize the work of regional town administrators from the so-called “Circuit Rider” program spanning the mid-1970s to late-1980s. Pictured are (l-r) Athol Town Manager Shaun Suhoski, Gov. Baker, Bourne Town Administrator Thomas Guerino, Halifax Town Administrator Charlie Seelig, ICMA Northeast Regional Director Patricia Vinchesi, Northampton Finance Director Susan Wright, Roberta Crosbie, former Amherst Human Resources Director Deborah Radway, James Purcell, former Deerfield Town Administrator Wendy Foxmyn, and Jay Moynihan. (Courtesy photo)

Gov. Charlie Baker delivered the opening remarks for the 35th Annual Meeting of the Small Town Administrators of Massachusetts at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton on June 6.

Gov. Baker discussed his administration’s efforts to engage cities and towns as partners in success, citing the Community Compact program as a key initiative that has expanded best practices and targeted funding assistance to more than 300 municipalities.

He also cited the need for more housing development in the Commonwealth and discussed his Housing Choices bill, which would allow a simple majority of the local legislative body – rather than the currently required two-thirds supermajority – to approve zoning reforms in order to promote housing development.

The governor said the administration’s Municipal Vulnerability Program is supported with a funding stream to help communities become more “resilient” in the face of a changing climate.

With more than 50 municipal leaders in attendance, the day-long program included recognition of STAM’s predecessors – the so-called municipal “circuit riders” who provided municipal administrative services to rural communities in the late 1970s through the mid-1980s.

As the governor looked on, 10 former circuit riders who had cut their teeth as regional administrators received professional recognition pins from STAM and later shared anecdotes from their early days serving in many communities where the town hall was not open during regular business hours. Many of those in attendance went on to enjoy long careers in municipal administration.

Deputy Housing and Economic Development Secretary Timothy McGourthy led a panel discussion on infrastructure funding sources, and Sujatha Krishnan of the Central Massachusetts Regional Planning Commission gave a presentation on how to program major projects into regional Transportation Improvement Plans. The discussion included examples and guidance from Nicolas Bosonetto of VHB and Allen Orsi of PARE Corporation on how to package projects for multiple funding sources.

MMA Legislative Director John Robertson provided an update on Beacon Hill activity.

During an afternoon planning session, Linda Dunlavy, executive director of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, sought input for the Rural Policy Advisory Commission’s pending report to the Legislature and administration on issues of particular relevance to rural Massachusetts.

During the business portion of the meeting, STAM members re-elected Northfield Town Administrator Andrea Llamas as chair, Ashburnham Town Administrator Heather Budrewicz as vice-chair, Lanesborough Town Manager Kelli Robbins as treasurer, and Athol Town Manager Shaun Suhoski and Granville Town Administrator Matt Streeter as co-secretaries.

STAM is a professional association of chief administrative officers from more than 70 municipalities with populations of 12,000 or less.