Friday, March 17, 2006
Legislators speak out for local control
Legislation in the Massachusetts house and senate has been "held hostage to the log jam on health care" according to State Representative Jay Kaufman of Lexington. He spoke at the Minuteman Advisory Group on Interlocal Coordination (MAGIC) semiannual legislative breakfast. Legislators attending the March 13 meeting agreed that once issues such as emergency preparedness and health care have progressed, more attention can be given to other issues.
MAGIC includes representatives from 12 towns, who meet to share ideas on regional issues of concern, especially managing growth. Communities include: Acton, Bedford, Bolton, Boxborough, Carlisle, Concord, Hudson, Lexington, Lincoln, Littleton, Maynard and Stow. MAGIC is a subregion of the Boston Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC).
Local control of land use
Recommendations from a recent report on land use, known as the Rappaport Study, spurred discussion on local control in land use decisions. Issues emerging from this report are central to core concerns of legislators and MAGIC community representatives. A motion was made by Sara Mattes of Lincoln urging MAPC to take a position for local control as basic to local government in Massachusetts. It passed unanimously and enthusiastically.
While the Rappaport Study discussion engaged the passions and imagination of the meeting, state aid to communities was also uppermost in the discussions. It was noted that the state legislature has left the Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding source intact. More communities have joined the CPA program, which may someday mean that state grants will become smaller. To date, the state has matched dollar for dollar the funds Carlisle has raised through its 2% CPA real estate tax surcharge.
A "modest increase" in local aid in Chapter 70 is anticipated. Carlisle representative Cory Atkins spoke of the "gross inequities of Chapter 70" and the need to distribute local aid in a way that local communities can live with.
Senator Susan Fargo bridged the money and land issues when she said "the mood in the legislature is to get revenue out of state properties, such as surplus land." Sale of state property was given as an example where local control may be limited, in the competition between development, preservation, and other municipal interests.
© 2006 The