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Berkshire Leaders Show Support for State's Municipal Empowerment Act
04:07PM / Saturday, February 03, 2024
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BOSTON — Governor Maura T. Healey 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 including two Berkshire County towns.  
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." 
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." 
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