Lead Sponsors: Senator Jamie Eldridge and Representative Jay Kaufman
Summary: This bill will help make municipal government more efficient at time when many communities are strained financially by promoting regional collaboration.
Why This Matters: Given the increasingly grim fiscal outlook faced by the Commonwealth’s cities and towns, it is more important now than ever to help our communities control expenses and efficiently deliver municipal services.
Regional collaboration is one way that municipalities can leverage existing resources to contain costs and possibly enhance revenue, while also maintaining and even improving the quality of local services. Such collaboration can take a variety of forms, such as joint purchasing of goods, sharing of municipal services, joint provision of services, creation of joint capital facilities and consolidated regional service districts, to name a few.
The Commonwealth can help foster a culture of collaboration among its municipalities in a number of ways – by prioritizing joint grant applications, expanding the ability of municipalities and regional planning agencies to work together, creating an incentive fund to help municipalities regionalize services and eliminating existing statutory barriers to sharing municipal services.
What this Bill Would Do: This bill would:
- Leverage existing state funding to promote regionalism by directing all executive branch agencies to evaluate grant, loan and technical assistance programs for opportunities to promote regional cooperation, and directing the Chairman of the Municipal Affairs Coordinating Cabinet to evaluate departmental programs and make recommendations on opportunities to increase collaboration between municipalities.
- Broaden the ability of Regional Planning Agencies (RPAs) to partner with state government and member municipalities to develop regional and intermunicipal initiatives by giving them the power to enter into agreements with member municipalities to administer regional services to member municipalities and perform any function the municipality is authorized to perform.
- Update various sections of the Massachusetts General Laws to make it easier for municipalities to create districts for the purposes of jointly providing municipal services, such as public health and veterans’ services.
- Enact a Joint Powers Act to allow two or more municipalities to contract with each other to create an entity that will jointly exercise certain powers and duties within a designated region.
- Create and provide $4 million to a Regionalization Incentive and Implementation Fund that will provide municipalities and districts with the funds to regionalize services, including assistance for implementation and transition costs.