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Keywords:Municipal finance - Massachusetts 

Report
The quest for cost-efficient local government in New England: what role for regional consolidation?

In the aftermath of the Great Recession, many local governments have experienced significant financial strain. Local governments? financial challenges are likely to continue in the foreseeable future, as federal deficit-reducing measures trigger cuts in state and local aid and as all levels of government struggle to fund their medical and retirement obligations. In an effort to maintain service provision without significant tax increases, many cities and towns will be forced to consider a variety of cost-cutting measures, including joint service provision with other localities. ; This ...
New England Public Policy Center Research Report , Paper 13-1

Working Paper
Does Springfield receive its fair share of municipal aid? : implications for aid formula reform in Massachusetts

This paper examines the distribution of unrestricted municipal aid in Massachusetts, which has been a major concern to civic leaders and elected officials of many communities, including Springfield. The paper develops a measure of the municipal fiscal gap indicating the relative need of municipalities for state aid. The analysis shows that in recent years, unrestricted municipal aid has not been distributed in proportion to the gap measure among the 10 largest cities in Massachusetts. For example, despite having the largest municipal gap, Springfield received almost the lowest per capita ...
New England Public Policy Center Working Paper , Paper 10-4

Working Paper
Municipal aid evaluation and reform

The distribution of unrestricted municipal aid has been a major policy concern in many states. Using Massachusetts as a case study, this paper examines the extent to which unrestricted municipal aid is responsive to the variation in the underlying fiscal health of municipalities. The paper uses a measure of ?municipal gap??based on local economic and social characteristics outside the direct control of local officials?to indicate the underlying fiscal health of cities and towns. The analysis finds large disparities in municipal gaps among Massachusetts cities and towns, and that those ...
New England Public Policy Center Working Paper , Paper 11-1

Working Paper
Designing formulas for distributing reductions in state aid

Local governments depend on state aid to provide residents and businesses with vital public services, such as education, police and fire protection, and safe public roads. However, in response to the recent fiscal crisis, many states are quickly and deeply cutting local aid. The Congressional Budget Office reported that 22 states reduced aid to local governments in FY 2010, and 20 states have proposed additional cuts in FY 2011. ; States tend to cut aid either on an ad hoc basis or across the board, with every community receiving the same percent aid cut. This paper proposes a new, more ...
New England Public Policy Center Working Paper , Paper 11-2

Discussion Paper
Does Springfield receive its fair share of municipal aid? : implications for aid formula reform in Massachusetts

This paper examines the distribution of unrestricted municipal aid in Massachusetts, which has been a major concern to civic leaders and elected officials of many communities, including Springfield. The paper develops a measure of the municipal fiscal gap indicating the relative need of municipalities for state aid. The analysis shows that in recent years, unrestricted municipal aid has not been distributed in proportion to the gap measure among the 10 largest cities in Massachusetts. For example, despite having the largest municipal gap, Springfield received almost the lowest per capita ...
Public and Community Affairs Discussion Papers , Paper 2010-2

Briefing
Reforming municipal aid in Massachusetts: the case for a gap-based formula

This policy brief evaluates the distribution of municipal aid in Massachusetts in FY 2011 and suggests an approach for reforming municipal aid without redistributing current aid. We use the ?municipal gap,? a measure that is outside the control of local officials, to determine a community?s need for municipal aid. To show the general pattern of municipal gaps across the state, we compare five prototype communities -- large cities, job-center suburbs, higher-income residential suburbs, rural towns, and resort towns. The analysis shows that the distribution of FY 2011 municipal aid does not ...
New England Public Policy Center Policy Brief

Briefing
Saving costs through regional consolidation: public safety answering points in Massachusetts

As local governments seek to address growing financial challenges, many will consider a variety of cost-cutting measures, including joint service provision with other localities. This policy brief examines the potential savings from large-scale service-sharing arrangements, using the specific example of emergency call handling and dispatch in Massachusetts. The analysis finds that consolidation can significantly reduce costs, and recommends that state policymakers consider options to encourage local consolidation. ; This policy brief builds on the Center?s 2013 research report, ?The Quest for ...
New England Public Policy Center Policy Brief

Briefing
A more equitable approach to cutting state aid

Local governments in New England rely on state aid to finance the provision of essential public services. Yet in response to the recent and ongoing fiscal crisis, state governments across the region have cut local aid deeply, often by the same percentage in each community. This across-the-board approach ignores differences in underlying local fiscal health and places a larger burden on many resource-poor communities. To address this concern, this policy brief provides a new, more equitable approach that allocates smaller aid cuts to communities that are in worse underlying fiscal health and ...
New England Public Policy Center Policy Brief

Journal Article
Massachusetts communities at risk: a report from the Municipal Finance Task Force

Results and recommendations from an analysis of municipal finances and local aid during the period 1981 to 2005.
Communities and Banking , Issue Fall , Pages 7-9

Working Paper
Designing state aid formulas: the case of a new formula for distributing municipal aid in Massachusetts

This paper designs a new equalization-aid formula based on fiscal gaps of local communities. Using conceptual analysis and simulations with Massachusetts data, the authors illustrate the tradeoffs that policymakers face in deciding on the policy variables in the formula and lay out several general guidelines for setting up these variables. When states are in transition to a new local aid formula, the issue of whether and how to hold existing aid harmless poses a challenge. The authors show that previous studies and the formulas derived from them give differential weights to existing and new ...
Working Papers , Paper 08-1

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