Eldridge-sponsored Act to Promote Municipal Collaboration and Regionalization included in legislation
BOSTON—Senator Eldridge (D-Acton) praised Governor Charlie Baker for signing H.4565, An Act modernizing municipal finance and government into law. This week, after the Massachusetts Legislature passed the comprehensive legislation to modernize municipal finance and governance laws in Massachusetts on July 31st, 2016. The legislation includes provisions to eliminate or update obsolete laws, promote local independence, streamline state oversight, provide greater flexibility for cities and towns and create opportunities for regionalized service delivery and collaboration among multiple communities. This session, Senator Eldridge and Representative Jay Kaufman (D-Lexington) filed S.1077/H.1849, An Act to Promote Municipal Collaboration and Regionalization throughout the Commonwealth, which was included in the final bill.
“This bill would allow local officials to have enhanced tools that they need in order to best serve their communities with greater efficiency and effectiveness,” said Senator Eldridge. “Building a strong partnership with our cities and towns by eliminating obsolete laws will enable communities to promote their local independence, streamline state oversight and provide municipalities with greater flexibility.”
“The many provisions in this bill are a comprehensive effort to ease some of the burdens our cities and towns face in the everyday operation of local government. This bill gives them the tools and the flexibility to operate more efficiently and effectively to best serve residents across the Commonwealth,” said Senate Committee on Ways and Means Chair Senator Karen E. Spilka (D-Ashland).
“What this bill does is give our cities and towns the tools they need to make local government function more effectively,” said Senator Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government. “This bill has over two hundred sections that each speak to a need that cities and towns have in areas of purchasing procedures, finance, the collection of revenue at the local level, assessing, tax issues, and many other important functions. This work is critically important to cities and towns and this bill is a collection of changes that is responsive to the needs of our partners in local government.”
“The municipal modernization bill includes many important updates to state law, including measures to allow cities and towns to more easily collaborate with one another and regionalize services,” said Metropolitan Area Planning Council Deputy Director Rebecca Davis. “Regionalized services are often more efficient and cost-effective, and offer particular benefits to smaller communities seeking to maximize their resources. We applaud the Legislature for incorporating these changes into the bill, and thank Senator Eldridge for his continued advocacy on behalf of this legislation.”
The bill eliminates or updates obsolete laws that no longer serve a meaningful purpose, including the repeal of county government finance reporting requirements and changes to the civil motor vehicle infraction law to allow cities and towns to issue citations electronically.
The bill promotes local autonomy for cities and towns, allowing for more control over certain funding decisions and local regulations. For example, the bill allows municipalities to enter into joint powers agreements to provide services regionally and reduces the state’s role in setting liquor license quotas for on-premises drinking.
The bill also streamlines state oversight of many tax collection procedures to make the process more transparent and predictable for local officials.
Finally, the bill takes steps to provide municipalities with greater flexibility, including a study on double utility poles, changes to procurement laws to simplify, clarify and increase thresholds for construction contracts and updates to the way municipalities use parking revenues, to allow for use on a wide range of transportation-related issues.