By Joan F. Simoneau, Community Reporter
Marlborough – The City Council approved a measure at its July 9 meeting to join a coalition of cities and towns in central Massachusetts that will strive to develop effective strategies regarding issues such as cuts to local aid and unfunded state mandates.
In a communication inviting Marlborough officials to join the coalition, former City Councilor James Kane, who is now a member of the Shrewsbury Board of Selectmen, noted, “The time has come to seek substantive changes.”
A meeting was held in Shrewsbury April 18, when officials from that town, as well as Grafton, Southborough and Westborough, met to discuss the various state mandates that so often strap a town financially. Also attending that meeting were Michael Berry, executive aide to Marlborough Mayor Arthur Vigeant and Trish Settles, a planner with the Central Mass. Regional Planning Committee.
In his letter, Kane noted that the group met “to discuss various state mandates and regulations which continue each year to place a significant burden on municipal budgets.”
“Our region has experienced tremendous population growth and resulting pressures on our public school departments, while the state has backed away from its financial partnership,” he added. “The result has placed pressure on the municipal budgets while we seek to achieve unfunded mandates and fully fund our pension obligations.”
During the April 18 meeting, there was consensus that municipalities would compile three to five key issues worthy of specific consideration and possible action by state officials during the legislative session beginning January 2013, according to Kane. A second meeting of the coalition will be held in the fall to continue the momentum and prepare for the next steps.
The council voted to accept the communication at its July 9 meeting and place it on file. Speaking in favor of participating in the coalition was Councilor-at-Large Mark Oram, who served with Kane when he was on the council.
He commended Kane for his initiative and said, “Collaborating with other communities in financial and other planning will help bring savings to taxpayers. It is a great opportunity for communities to help each other.”