Showing posts with label MMA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MMA. Show all posts

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Remote meeting extension approved by Legislature, signed by Gov Baker

"On July 14, the House and Senate passed legislation (S. 3007) extending key pandemic-era accommodations, including remote meeting authorizations, to March 31, 2023. Once the governor signs the bill, cities and towns will retain the option to hold public meetings remotely, following the same guidelines that have been in place since the COVID public health emergency was first declared in March of 2020.

Back in May, a remote meeting extension was included in the final FY23 Senate Budget as an outside section, but this language was advanced by the Senate as a standalone bill last week with the July 15 expiration approaching and the final budget still tied up in negotiations. The House later passed its own version of the bill, including language that would have created a permanent mandate for remote access to all public meetings aside from those in executive session, with a provision requiring remote participation by the public if public participation is allowed or required at the meeting. This would have gone into effect on April 1, 2023."

Continue reading the article online from Mass Municipal Assoc (MMA)

Updated via email from MA AG's Division of Open Government

"On July 16, 2022, Governor Baker signed into Law An Act Relative to Extending Certain State of Emergency Accommodations, which, among other things, extends the expiration of the provisions pertaining to the Open Meeting Law to March 31, 2023.  Specifically, this extension allows public bodies to continue holding meetings remotely without a quorum of the public body physically present at a meeting location, and to provide "adequate, alternative" access to remote meetings.  The Act does not make any new changes to the Open Meeting Law other than extending the expiration date of the temporary provisions regarding remote meetings.

In partnership,
The Attorney General’s Division of Open Government"

PDF of the email -> 

S.3985 is on the Governor's Desk per the Executive office queue on the page ->

The text of the legislation just approved can be found ->

The Franklin Town Council holds a hybrid meeting. (Photo courtesy town of Franklin)
The Franklin Town Council holds a hybrid meeting. (Photo courtesy town of Franklin)

Saturday, July 2, 2022

MMA: "Online maps illustrate progress of gas leak repair program"

"Massachusetts has one of the oldest natural gas systems in the country, with around 22% of the pipes under the ground considered “leakprone” in 2020, according to HEET, a Cambridge-based nonprofit dedicated to cutting emissions.

In 2014, Massachusetts created the Gas System Enhancement Program as a way for its six investor-owned natural gas distribution companies to accelerate the replacement of this leaking infrastructure by 2039.

Now, the public can view the location and estimated cost of each new planned gas pipe replacement project using pipe replacement maps created by HEET. Also available is HEET’s annually updated map of gas leaks across Massachusetts, along with estimated emissions."

Continue reading the article online at Mass Municipal Assoc (MMA)

The Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET)'s gas leak map ->

This link should drop you directly to the interactive Franklin section of the map ->

If the link doesn't drop you directly to Franklin, start here and search for Franklin ->

HEET's gas leak map focused on Franklin
HEET's gas leak map focused on Franklin

Friday, June 17, 2022

S. 2924 "An Act fostering voter opportunities, trust, equity and security" on Gov Baker's desk

"The House today passed a compromise election reform bill that was approved by the Senate last week and has now been sent to the governor for his consideration.

The bill (S. 2924) would make many pandemic-related election changes permanent, expanding some voting opportunities in time for the next statewide election in September. The bill does not include same-day voter registration, a sticking point between the House and Senate in earlier versions of the bills.

The compromise bill would change the voter registration deadline from 20 days before an election to 10 days.

The bill would also allow mail-in ballots for presidential, state and municipal elections, while allowing municipalities to opt out of mail-in voting for elections that are not held on the same day as a state or federal election. Municipalities could, however, allow in-person early voting for those elections if desired."
Continue reading the article on the MMA page

The legislation is not yet visible in the Governor's "On the Desk" page but should be shortly

The text of the legislation itself as amended and approved by both Senate and House

The legislation downloaded as a  PDF can also be found here

S. 2924 "An Act fostering voter opportunities, trust, equity and security" on Gov Baker's desk
S. 2924 "An Act fostering voter opportunities, trust, equity and security" on Gov Baker's desk

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Inside the MA Senate budget: a focuses on early education, mental health, local aid

Via CommonWealth Magazine 

"THE STATE budget proposal released by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday largely hews to the same ideology as the plan adopted by House budget writers: Avoid tax cuts, while putting excess money toward investments in areas such as early education, mental health care, and housing. 

“Despite two-plus years of uncertainty because of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing and widespread financial instability, we’re happy to say that the Commonwealth remains in a strong fiscal position for now,” Senate President Karen Spilka said at a budget briefing with reporters. “We will only succeed as a Commonwealth if we all rise together, and this budget ensures that no one gets left behind.”

Continue reading the article online

Via Mass Municipal Association (MMA)
"The Senate Committee on Ways and Means today released a state budget proposal for fiscal 2023 that would double the increase in unrestricted local aid over what was proposed by the governor in January and approved by the House last month.

The $49.6 billion Senate Ways and Means proposal, which is scheduled to be taken up by the full Senate later this month, would increase Unrestricted General Government Aid by 5.4%, or $63 million, to $1.23 billion.

Senate leaders are also proposing significant increases for Chapter 70 education aid, charter school reimbursements, the Special Education Circuit Breaker account, and payments in lieu of taxes for state-owned land."
Continue reading the article online

The FY23 Senate Ways and Means Budget Recommendations are available on the Massachusetts legislature’s website:

Friday, April 15, 2022

Franklin awarded $150K in green community grant for "energy conservation measures, EV vehicles, LED lighting, etc."

During an event yesterday in Lawrence, the administration awarded $8.3 million in Green Communities competitive grants to 64 municipalities.

The competitive grants support energy efficiency and renewable energy projects that further the designated communities’ clean energy goals. The grants are awarded to Green Communities that have successfully invested their initial designation grants and previous competitive grant awards.

According to the Department of Energy Resources, the grants will help to fund a range of projects, from ventilation system upgrades to the installation of insulation and energy management systems at municipal buildings and facilities. Projects also include installations of air-source heat pumps, hybrid police cruisers, and electric vehicle charging stations. (Click here for details of the project awards.)

Continue reading the MMA article

Franklin's award for $150,902 was summarized as:
"to fund energy conservation measures, EV vehicles, LED lighting, and transformers, in municipal facilities including vehicle fleet, Horace Mann, Remington, and Keller Sullivan Schools"

The complete listing of awards can be found ->

 For more about Green Communities

For more about Green Communities

Friday, March 25, 2022

"despite legislation having good intentions, there can be unforeseen cost elements"

"The State Auditor’s Division of Local Mandates released a report yesterday that identified 29 state statutes passed between 2016 and 2020 that have a significant financial impact on Massachusetts cities and towns without sufficient state funding to offset the costs.

The “Five-Year Statutory Fiscal Impact Report” finds that the state continues to pass laws that often require resources from cities and towns for implementation, and that these measures are largely financed by local property taxes as state aid lags behind increasing local costs. The report also documents that state aid as a share of total municipal revenue decreased between fiscal 2010 and fiscal 2020, while state assessments on cities and towns increased. "

Continue reading article online ->

Download a copy of the full report here ->

“Five-Year Statutory Fiscal Impact Report”
Five-Year Statutory Fiscal Impact Report

Monday, March 14, 2022

MMA: "Building climate resiliency into municipal properties"

"Recent reports indicate that climate change is warming the Northeast faster than most other regions in the Northern Hemisphere, and research released by UMass Amherst notes that the Northeast has heated by 3.6 degrees over the past century due in part to the increasing temperature of the Atlantic Ocean. 
This warming is already having an enormous impact in the region. According to the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit for the Northeast, among other resources, climate change impacts here include extreme precipitation events (both rain and snow), sea level rise, coastal and river flooding, and severe weather such as high wind events and heat waves, all of which are challenging our environmental, social and economic systems. 
Flooding, both coastal and inland, is a major concern. Most Massachusetts counties can expect a 10% to 20% increase in flooding between 2020 and 2050, with an average annual loss increase of more than $5 million over the same period, according to a Jan. 31 article in the journal Nature Climate Change."

Continue reading this MMA article online ->

Other articles referenced:

Climate-friendly green roofs, like this one at Chicago’s City Hall, can reduce building cooling costs while also absorbing rainfall. (Photo courtesy National Park Service and city of Chicago)
Climate-friendly green roofs, like this one at Chicago’s City Hall, can reduce building cooling costs while also absorbing rainfall. (Photo courtesy National Park Service and city of Chicago)

Monday, December 27, 2021

"all heavily qualified with discussions of uncertainty"

"Despite a persistent public health emergency, the Commonwealth’s fiscal outlook for the remainder of fiscal 2022 and looking ahead to fiscal 2023 remains strong, but not without some uncertainty. 
Tax collections far exceeded benchmarks in fiscal 2021, leading to a substantial state surplus, and they are on track to do the same in fiscal 2022. 
Still, during the annual Consensus Revenue Hearing convened today by the House and Senate Ways and Means committees and the governor’s budget office, the Department of Revenue and other fiscal experts and economists offered cautious outlooks for the economy and state revenues over the second half of fiscal 2022 and for fiscal 2023."

We enter the FY 2023 budget season. The Town of Franklin departments are working on their department level operational and capital requests. The capital budget will be first reviewed via the Finance Committee before going to the Town Council capital budget subcommittee and eventually to the full Council for approval. As with prior years, the capital budget is likely to be addressed in two phases: the first utilizes the available free cash less some amount held to cover additional snow/ice expenses this winter; after the winter expenses are finalized, then the second portion of free cash is utilized for the capital budget.

The Town budget process and documents can be found 

The School budget follows a similar timeline

"all heavily qualified with discussions of uncertainty"
"all heavily qualified with discussions of uncertainty"

Friday, November 19, 2021

Franklin awarded Sustainable Materials Recovery Program grant of $25K

Mass. Municipal Assn (@massmunicipal) tweeted  Thu, Nov 18, 2021:
Administration awards $3.1M through the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program to 268 municipalities to help them maximize recycling, composting & waste reduction programs. @MassGovernor @MassLtGov @MassEEA @MassDEP 


"To mark America Recycles Day, the Baker-Polito administration on Monday announced $3.1 million in grant funding to 268 municipalities and regional solid waste districts to help them maximize recycling, composting and waste reduction programs.

The grants are made available through the Sustainable Materials Recovery Program, which was created by the Green Communities Act of 2008 and has provided more than $46 million to recycling programs since 2010.

At the announcement, Gov. Charlie Baker said the new round of grant funding will aid municipal efforts “to implement innovative programs and policies” to maximize the reuse of materials, boost recycling, and reduce waste. Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said the program helps municipalities and solid waste districts expand recycling and composting, while targeting new materials to remove from the waste stream."

Franklin is on the list as the recipient of $25,200.

Shared from Twitter:

Franklin awarded Sustainable Materials Recovery Program grant of $25K
Franklin awarded Sustainable Materials Recovery Program grant of $25K

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Webinar Nov. 22 on MA DEP Solid Waste Master Plan

Via the Mass Municipal Association:

"The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is inviting local officials to a webinar on Nov. 22 on the newly published Solid Waste Master Plan.

The 2030 Solid Waste Master Plan: Working Together Toward Zero Waste guides how Massachusetts will strive to manage our trash between now and 2030 — and beyond. The plan sets a waste reduction target of 30% by 2030 and 90% by 2050."

Read the remainder of the announcement by MMA and register for the webinar


Webinar Nov. 22 on MA DEP Solid Waste Master Plan
Webinar Nov. 22 on MA DEP Solid Waste Master Plan

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Citizen Planner Training Collaborative's schedule announced

The Citizen Planner Training Collaborative’s Webinar Series 2021, designed for citizen and professional planners in Massachusetts, will run from Nov. 10 through Dec. 16.

Registration is open for the 10 workshops, which range from “Roles and Responsibilities of Planning Boards and Boards of Appeals” to more specialized information such as fair housing laws. Each workshop is sponsored by a regional planning agency, and anyone may attend.
The workshop schedule is as follows:
• Fair Housing Laws: Nov. 10
• Fair, Defensible Land Use Decisions: Nov. 15
• Adopting and Revising Rules and Regulations: Nov. 17
• Drafting Zoning Amendments: Nov. 18
• Adopting and Revising Rules and Regulations: Nov. 23
• Introduction to Subdivision Control Law/ANR: Nov. 29
• Fair, Defensible Land Use Decisions: Dec. 2
• Roles and Responsibilities of Planning and Zoning Boards: Dec. 7
• Special Permits and Variances: Dec. 15
• Use of Design Review: Dec. 16
Via MMA - for more info including how to register,  or go directly to the CPTC page to register ->

Thursday, September 23, 2021

MA Public Health reminds us to practice self-care and support your mental health; Boston announces pilot program

"It's more important than ever to practice self-care and support your mental health. Relax, stay socially connected at a safe distance, and take a deep breath. 
If you're in a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. #StopSuicide"

Shared from Twitter:

Mass. Public Health reminds us to practice self-care and support your mental health
Mass. Public Health reminds us to practice self-care and support your mental health

Franklin participates in a grant program with Medway to implement this support for 911 calls and now Boston is starting a pilot program.
"Amid a nationwide push to rethink policing strategies and reduce the use of force when possible, a new Boston program seeks to scale back police involvement in 911 mental-health calls.

Last month, Acting Mayor Kim Janey announced a pilot program encouraging greater use of mental-health workers, EMTs and trained community members during 911 mental health calls. In a city that received 10,000 such calls last year, officials are seeking to de-escalate fragile mental-health interactions while easing the strain on police resources.

“This mental-health response will help us evaluate how to deliver the best possible response for our residents when they are in crisis,” Janey said during an Aug. 5 press conference. “These investments will help connect residents and their families with the care they need. They will also help us send officers to where they are needed most.”

Franklin Police in its Annual Report section for 2020 touted the program

Sunday, September 5, 2021

"united in their commitment to preserve and protect the natural water resources"


The MassDEP’s proposed changes to the Water Resources Management Program regulations (310 CMR 36.00) are promulgated under the Water Management Act (M.G.L. Ch. 21G), which regulates water withdrawals through registrations and permits to ensure an appropriate balance among competing water needs and the preservation of natural resources.

The proposed regulatory changes would add a new condition to registrations that would restrict nonessential outdoor water use during times of drought declared by the secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Nonessential outdoor water use includes lawn watering, filling swimming pools, washing cars by means of a hose, and washing down buildings, parking lots, driveways and sidewalks.

Continue reading the article online

Direct link to the MassDEP proposed changes

The permit process was part of the three part podcast series with the Franklin Water Dept. You can find and listen to all three episodes here: 


three part podcast series with the Franklin Water Dept
three part podcast series with the Franklin Water Dept

Thursday, September 2, 2021

MMA: "MassDOT releases new Chapter 90 informational resources"

"The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has updated its Chapter 90 program web portal and released several informational resources related to the program for municipalities.

A new Municipal Guidance Document reviews eligible expenses under the program and details project planning and implementation processes that are considered best practices. "

MA DOT Chapter 90 portal ->

MA DOT Chapter 90 portal
MA DOT Chapter 90 portal

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Mass. Municipal Assn: "Select board group discusses the future of public meetings"

Mass. Municipal Assn (@massmunicipal) tweeted on Fri, Jul 30, 2021:
Mass. Select Board Assn concluded its annual Leadership Conference series with a webinar on the future of public meetings w/ @TOFranklinMA Town Administrator Jamie Hellen & #Stow Town Administrator Denise Dembkoski. 

"The future of public meetings was the topic of the fourth and final webinar in the Massachusetts Select Board Association’s Leadership Conference series today.

Franklin Town Administrator Jamie Hellen kicked off the meeting with a discussion about how the town has transitioned from all-virtual to hybrid board and committee meetings that allow for a combination of virtual and in-person participation. Hellen showed how Franklin’s Town Council chambers have been set up to allow the council, staff, presenters and meeting participants to attend meetings in-person while the public joins remotely.

Hellen covered important aspects of the set up, such as room layout and the necessary technology, as well as the town’s partnership with its local access TV provider, Franklin TV. He also emphasized the importance of trial and error in order to develop a system that works best for the community."

Mass. Municipal Assn: "Select board group discusses the future of public meetings"
Mass. Municipal Assn: "Select board group discusses the future of public meetings"

Saturday, July 31, 2021

MMA: "Gov. signs law extending voting provisions through Dec. 15"

From the Mass Municipal Association (MMA) we share: 

"Gov. Charlie Baker today signed a $261.6 million supplemental budget for fiscal 2021 that includes provisions to extend early voting through Dec. 15, 2021.

With regard to elections, the new law:

• Extends no-excuse absentee voting for all elections through Dec. 15, 2021
• Authorizes in-person early voting for any regular or special municipal preliminary, primary or general election on or before Dec. 15, 2021
• Authorizes early voting by mail for any regular or special or state preliminary primary or general election on or before Dec. 15, 2021
• Extends the right of voters ordered to quarantine to select an alternative location for delivery of ballots for annual or special municipal or state primary or election held on or before Dec. 15, 2021
• Allows a select board, board of selectmen, town council or city council — after a public hearing and by recorded and public vote at least 45 days prior to the date of an election — to opt-out of allowing early voting by mail for any annual or special municipal preliminary or municipal election"

Direct ink to the legislative bill ->

MMA: "Gov. signs law extending voting provisions through Dec. 15"
MMA: "Gov. signs law extending voting provisions through Dec. 15"

Monday, May 17, 2021

Franklin (1) in the news for the UVGA lamps, (2) could we consider Amherst's example to help with engagement?

From the Mass Municipal Association (MMA) we find to share:

1 - "Franklin installs ultraviolet lamps to destroy coronaviruses"

"Using technology both visible and hidden, the town of Franklin has improved the air quality in its municipal and school buildings and reduced the chances of people catching COVID-19."

2 - "Amherst launches online engagement platform"

"The town of Amherst has developed a new prong in its online engagement strategy with the launch of a new interactive platform, Engage Amherst.

The March launch comes a year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced cities and towns across the state to pivot from in-person meetings and hearings to remote, online engagement with residents."

Thursday, March 18, 2021

MA State News: Law signed to extend vote by mail to June; vaccine schedule for all released

"Gov. Baker signs law to extend pandemic-related voting changes"

"A law signed by Gov. Charlie Baker today provides a three-month extension for a number of changes to voting procedures that were enacted last spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including early voting by mail."

Continue reading the article online

"All Mass. adults eligible for vaccines April 19"
"ALL ADULTS LIVING in Massachusetts will become eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine beginning on April 19, Gov. Charlie Baker announced Wednesday. That does not mean, however, that everyone will be able to immediately get a shot, since getting a dose will depend on how much supply becomes available from the federal government.

“It will take time obviously for the vaccine to arrive here in Massachusetts and for everyone in these groups to get appointments and get vaccinated,” Baker said at a press conference Wednesday, after touring a vaccination site at the Shaw’s Center in Brockton."
Continue reading the article online
Gov Baker's press Conference:

Monday, January 25, 2021

MMA: Gov Baker, Lt Gov Polito provide updates on forthcoming MA budget

Gov Baker spoke to the MMA meeting on Friday, Lt Gov Polito spoke on Thursday. Highlights of their remarks including insights on the State budget to be released on Wednesday as shared here:

"During the MMA Annual Business Meeting this afternoon, Gov. Charlie Baker thanked hundreds of local officials for their “invaluable” partnership during the COVID-19 pandemic and announced that he would be filing legislation next week to authorize $200 million for the Chapter 90 local road and bridge program.

The governor highlighted a number of programs and recently signed laws intended to help give an economic boost to main streets and downtowns that have suffered during the pandemic, particularly a $626 million economic development bond, $16.5 billion transportation bond and a new small business relief initiative that has distributed $232 million thus far to more than 4,000 small businesses. The multi-year transportation bond law includes funding for the popular Complete Streets and Municipal Small Bridge grant programs, as well as new Municipal Pavement Partnership and Local Bottleneck Reduction grant programs. "

Continue reading the article online 
"Speaking to more than 800 local leaders from across the state during the MMA Annual Meeting & Trade Show this morning, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito announced that the administration’s state budget plan for fiscal 2022, set to be released next Wednesday, will increase general municipal aid by 3.5%.

This meets the administration’s commitment to increase the Unrestricted General Government Aid account at the same rate as the projected growth in state revenues. The consensus projection of 3.5% was announced by legislative and administration budget writers late last week."
Continue reading the article online