Lead Sponsors: Senator Jamie Eldridge and Representative Jay Kaufman
Summary: This bill will help make municipal government more efficient at a time when many communities are strained financially by promoting regional collaboration. This is the re-file of the House Ways and Means Committee version of the “Regionalization” bill, which passed the House in the 2011-2012 legislative session.
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 promotes existing regional opportunities while creating new regional solutions to help make municipal government more efficient at a time when many communities are strained financially. Specifically, it will:
•Leverage existing state funding to promote regionalization 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.
•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 or districts to contract with each other to create an entity that will jointly exercise certain powers and duties within a designated region.
View the full text of the bill and track its history here.