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Boston – Local Leaders Across Massachusetts Show Support for Healey-Driscoll Administration’s Municipal Empowerment Act 

BOSTON – (Press Release) Governor Maura T. Healey today filed two bills that would increase resources for Massachusetts’ 351 cities and towns. 

The Municipal Empowerment Act expands on tools available to municipal leaders to generate revenue by allowing them to increase local option taxes on meals and lodging. The bill would also create a new local Motor Vehicle Excise surcharge option – a provision that could benefit every city and town in the state. It also makes permanent a number of popular COVID-era allowances for hybrid public meetings, outdoor dining permits and to-go cocktail sales.

Governor Healey also filed a two-year, $400 million Chapter 90 bill (HD4811) for local road and bridge repair, proposing a multi-year authorization to help build in predictability for municipalities looking to plan longer-term projects. The annual Chapter 90 authorization would be supplemented by another $100 million for local road and bridge repairs through Fair Share surtax spending proposed in the Fiscal Year 2025 budget, and an additional $24 million dedicated to rural communities.

Local leaders from across Massachusetts have shown their support for Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll’s plan to support municipalities:

Mayor Nicole LaChapelle, Easthampton, incoming President of Massachusetts Mayors Association:

“Municipal government is entirely unique in that the work we do has a direct and immediate impact on the lives of our residents. We must be nimble and flexible, but most importantly, we must be efficient because municipal budgets are small and tight. The efforts here by the Healey-Driscoll Administration help us enhance and balance the needs of our residents and the changing financial landscape municipalities experience. I want to thank Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll for their commitment to supporting cities and towns in every corner of the Commonwealth.”

Mayor Patrick M. Keefe Jr., Revere:

“As the fastest growing city in the Commonwealth, Revere is poised to leverage these new tools to invest in education, infrastructure, new amenities and programs allowing our city to remain competitive while providing a great value for families to live and raise their children. Providing local options to grow revenue will allow Revere to position itself for the next generation without putting more of the tax burden on our homeowners.”

Mayor Jon Mitchell, New Bedford:

“At a time when many states are trying to preempt local decision making, the Healey-Driscoll Administration is pushing in the opposite direction, for all the right reasons. The Municipal Empowerment Act reflects the Jeffersonian maxim that the government closest to the people governs best. Based on a wealth of feedback from city and town officials, it would remove barriers in state law that impede the effectiveness and accountability of municipal government. I am grateful for the Administration’s common sense effort to help me serve the residents of my city better.”

Mayor Paul Coogan, Fall River:

“The City of Fall River appreciates the reforms proposed in the Municipal Empowerment Act by the Healey-Driscoll Administration. The recommended changes are designed to give municipal leaders tremendous flexibility in allowing cities and towns to generate additional revenues. I fully support this package of reforms.”

Mayor Thomas P. Koch, Quincy:

“The people of Quincy rely on their local government for everything from keeping our roads and bridges in good condition to ensuring our kids get an excellent education. I’m grateful to Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll for proposing a bill that will streamline city services and increase the resources we have at our disposal to serve our residents.”

Mayor Michael J. Nicholson, Gardner:

“From the roads people drive or walk on to get to work, the schools our students attend, the water people use to brush their teeth, and beyond – the services provided on the local level are vital to providing a top quality of life. However, these services require the tools, resources, and flexibility needed to respond to the situations facing each city and town. We live in a time where the private sector is simply outpacing what local governments can do in terms of balancing a quality product for our residents with the ability to keep employment opportunities competitive. By empowering cities and towns to make the decisions they believe is best for the situations they are facing, the Healey-Driscoll Administration has proposed ways to build a stronger Commonwealth from the street level on up. This is Massachusetts meeting the moment to make sure we work for a stronger tomorrow.”

Mayor Kassandra Gove, Amesbury:

“This is how we ‘get stuff done’. The Municipal Empowerment Act addresses the needs of local government while providing flexibility to do what’s best for each of our communities. As local leaders contending with inflationary costs, limited revenue sources, and a competitive hiring environment, we need more levers to pull. I am deeply grateful to the administration for hearing us and delivering with this bill.”

Mayor Dominick Pangallo, Salem:

“The Municipal Empowerment Act provides a broad range of tools and policies to help cities and towns better serve our residents. The Act will strengthen our economy, improve the operation of local government, and enhance our ability to deliver critical municipal services to those who need them. It would empower greater local voice in local decision making and give communities more flexibility in shaping how they’ll meet the needs of their residents. Cities and towns want to invest – in our teachers and schools, in our police and fire personnel, in safe streets and vibrant downtowns – and we want policies that will allow us the choice in how we do so. The Municipal Empowerment Act gives us exactly that.”

Mayor Joshua A. Garcia, Holyoke:

“President Abraham Lincoln once said ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.’ With the Municipal Empowerment Act, local governments will be given the flexibility needed to create a brighter and more inclusive future for residents. It recognizes the challenges faced by municipalities and demonstrates a commitment to their wellbeing. This act is a testament to the Government’s foresight and dedication to building stronger and more resilient communities.”

Mayor Katjana Ballantyne, Somerville:
“Cities and towns are frontline government providers that profoundly impact quality of life across the Commonwealth, but we’ve seen decades of decline in State Aid making our work more difficult. Kudos to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for taking on this challenge head on. This comprehensive, strategic, and forward-thinking Act would not only inject more aid but, critically, would also build sustainable, independent local revenue and policy options that will strengthen local government — and our Commonwealth — into the future. Put simply, this is smart government focused on the real results we need.”

Mayor Ruthanne Fuller, Newton:

“I was thrilled to see Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll not only introduce the Municipal Empowerment Act, but also commit to increasing local aid and Chapter 90 funding for roads and bridges. These efforts will help Mayors and Town Managers to improve services for our residents and communities, and strengthen our Village Centers and Main Streets.”

Mayor EriJoyce, Braintree:

“The Municipal Empowerment Act offered by the Healey-Driscoll Administration recognizes the significant fiscal challenges cities and towns in our Commonwealth are facing as we strive to maintain services and infrastructure with the extraordinary rise in cost. The new tools outlined in the Act give us the ability to make local decisions on alternative ways to raise revenue to ensure our cities and towns can continue to deliver the services our residents rely on everyday.”

 

Mayor Jared C. Nicholson, Lynn

:

“We very much appreciate this Administration’s clear and impactful focus on municipalities. Some common sense reforms in this legislation would make a big difference in our everyday work for our residents.”

 

Mayor Cathleen DeSimone, Attleboro:

“In Attleboro, we look for every opportunity to improve the lives of our people, our residents, and our community members. These commitments from the Healey-Driscoll Administration give us the resources and tools our city needs to grow and prosper. We look forward to implementing these long-awaited reforms and thank the administration for working with us to ensure our communities get the support they need to thrive.”

Mayor Gary Christenson, Malden: 
“As we begin to review and analyze the proposed Municipal Empowerment Act submitted by Governor Healey and Lt. Governor Driscoll, I want to take a moment to applaud them and their administration for their continued support of cities and towns like Malden. I have always felt strongly that putting more into the hands of local government and the community is always a good thing and that’s just what this bill accomplishes. Recognizing that each city or town is unique with differing needs and providing them with the tools and flexibility to decide what works best to address the needs of that community is empowering. We very much look forward to the opportunities that will result from this proposal.”

Mayor Joseph M. Petty and City Manager Eric D. Batista, Worcester: 
“The Municipal Empowerment Act is a great example of the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s efforts to uplift municipalities and give them the tools to advance operations while maintaining efficient budgets. As Worcester’s population continues to increase, it’s vital that the City’s operational capacity and services grow in tandem to meet all residents’ needs. The City of Worcester is extremely thankful to have state-level leadership that prioritizes the success of municipalities.”

Fidel Maltez, Chelsea City Manager:

“As a Municipal leader, I saw first-hand the efforts to gather feedback across the Commonwealth for the Municipal Empowerment Act. On behalf of Governor Healey, Lieutenant Governor Driscoll participated in roundtable discussions on the issues affecting us locally. The legislation reflects the needs of so many municipalities. In communities like Chelsea, this will allow us to address the critical needs of our residents, while maintaining fiscal responsibility and without overburdening homeowners.”

Steve Bartha, Danvers Town Manager and Immediate Past President of the Massachusetts Municipal Management Association:
“Much of municipal spending is outside of local control, and we’re just emerging from a period of above average inflation. The commission to study the escalating cost of health insurance for retirees, for example, is really important to cities and towns across the state. Any tools the state can give us to better manage the cost of providing services to residents is more than welcome.”

Andrew Flanagan, Andover Town Manager: 
“Simply put, the Municipal Empowerment Act is the most comprehensive package of reforms aimed at helping municipalities that we have seen in some time. We appreciate the Governor and Lt. Governor’s support and collaboration.”

Sean Curran, Washington Town Administrator:

“The Healey-Driscoll administration’s fall listening tour was a catalyst for the most ambitious municipal assistance legislation in the last 10 years. From streamlining the procurement process, adding Chapter 90 funds, addressing double poles, it’s clear the Administration was laser beam focused on improving the efficiency of municipal government in small rural communities. The Governor’s immediate response to this summer’s flooding, the appointment of a Director of Rural Affairs, and filing of the Municipal Empowerment Act, demonstrate a newfound commitment to small towns, especially in Western Massachusetts.”

Lisa Wong, South Hadley Town Administrator and former Fitchburg Mayor:

“It’s wonderful to have an administration that gets out into communities, hears directly from local leaders about what we need from the state to be able to deliver for the people we serve, and then acts on it. The Municipal Empowerment Act is a comprehensive package that will make local government work more efficiently and effectively, providing municipalities with much needed resources to better serve or residents.”

Jason Silva, Dunstable Town Administrator:

“From day one of their administration, Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll have shown a commitment to partnering with municipalities. I’m thrilled that they’ve introduced the Municipal Empowerment Act, which directly addresses the needs and desires of Massachusetts’ cities and towns, streamlining processes, increasing local options, and empowering communities.”

Goshen Town Administrator Dawn Scaparotti and Select Board Chair Angela Otis:
“We applaud the administration’s efforts in creating legislation that will address many of the concerns raised in the municipal listening sessions. Rather than legislating all actions, they have created a smorgasboard of options aimed at lessening the administrative burden across a number of areas including procurement and complex property valuation calculations, which is especially important for small towns such as Goshen with fewer financial and staff resources. Importantly, some can be adopted at the local level by those who are closer to the community issues. We look forward to working with the administration in implementation of the broader regionalized aspects of the legislation.”

Jamie Hellen, Franklin Town Administrator and MMA Vice President: 
“On behalf of the hundreds of local officials who participated in the regional listening sessions over the past year or who have been advocating for these policies for many years, I greatly appreciate the leadership of the Healey-Driscoll Administration to bring the Massachusetts Empowerment Act to reality! This comprehensive bill exemplifies a strong and effective state-local partnership, and will give cities and towns a number of new tools to address the myriad challenges we face in the immediate future.”

Mark Forest, Barnstable County Commissioner and Yarmouth Selectboard Member: 

“Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll are leading an administration for every community in Massachusetts. They came right to local officials for input about how they could help our communities thrive, and this bill shows that they listened.”

Andy Hogeland, Williamstown Select Board Member and President of the Massachusetts Select Board Association: 
“This is a very strong and thoughtful package from the Administration. I particularly appreciate the provisions that demonstrate the Administration’s ongoing support for rural towns, and for giving all municipalities greater latitude in local control over topics such as a means-tested senior property tax exemption and local-option taxes. We look forward to helping enact the provisions to give relief to all municipalities.”

John McLaughlin, Waltham City Councillor, President of the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) and the Massachusetts Councillors’ Association: 
“Local leaders across Massachusetts greatly appreciate this important legislation, which will help us improve the efficiency of local operations, strengthen municipal finances, and address critical workforce challenges. We appreciate the Administration’s outreach to municipalities in the crafting of this package. It’s a game changer!”

Jill Hai, Lexington Selectboard Member and Immediate Past President of the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA): 
“This is a great and much appreciated package of reforms and municipal flexibility! My town can particularly benefit from the enforcement mechanism to get double poles removed, the 40-year funding option for school buildings, and senior tax relief improvements. The entire package is a huge win for all municipalities.”

Cape & Islands Municipal Leaders Association:

“Governor Healey and Lieutenant Governor Driscoll know that each of our 351 cities and towns are unique, and that local leaders have their finger on the pulse of what their communities need most. The Municipal Empowerment Act expands the tools at our disposal to ensure that we have the resources to deliver the high-quality services that our constituents deserve across Cape Cod.”

Adam Chapdelaine, Executive Director & CEO, Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA):
“The MMA is deeply grateful to the Healey-Driscoll Administration for this robust proposal, which would benefit each and every one of our Commonwealth’s 351 cities and towns. The Municipal Empowerment Act includes strong recommendations based on input from local officials, with a focus on supporting our communities, modernizing practices, and improving efficiency in the delivery of essential services provided by our cities and towns.”

 

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