Municipal Relief Package

I have listed below the language that came out of the budget passed by the Senate dealing with the municipal relief package filed by the Merrimack Valley Mayors coalition. With the conference committee poised to report out on the reconciliation we will keep an eyed peeled for this section being adopted. I have a coffee riding on the outcome. The language removing the ability of school committees to veto business consolidations has been changed from our original request.

Section 37M ½. Consultations regarding consolidation of administrative functions with city or town.
For any city or town accepting the provisions of this section, not earlier than December 1st of each alternating year beginning in 2009, and not later than January 31st of the subsequent year, the superintendent of schools for each school district serving such municipality shall meet with the mayor, town manager, or chief municipal officer or his designee for that municipality. The purpose of this meeting shall be to review the fiscal status of the school district budget and to identify opportunities for cost savings and efficiencies and any potential methodologies, including, but not limited to, joint procurement or consolidation of redundant functions. The results of each meeting shall be transmitted to the local legislative body and the local school committee not later than thirty days following the conclusion of such meeting.’
(b) There is hereby established a special commission for the purpose of investigating potential options for the modification of the means by which municipal entities are permitted to join the State Group Insurance Commission, the impacts of such options, the feasibility of such options, and their relative advantages and disadvantages.
Such commission shall consist of the Secretary of Administration and Finance or a designee who shall chair the commission, the executive director of the Group Insurance Commission, three representatives of municipal governments currently serving in an elected or appointed capacity and selected from a list provided by the Massachusetts Municipal Association by the governor, three representatives of public employee unions appointed by the governor, one member appointed by the governor, with actuarial experience in health insurance and three additional members appointed by the governor, one of whom shall represent the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation and two of whom shall represent the citizens of the Commonwealth.
Said Commission shall report its findings, together with legislative recommendations for changes and/or modifications, to the clerks of the House and Senate not later than six months following the passage of this act.
(c) (1) Methodology – Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the Secretary of Health and Human Services is hereby authorized and directed to, in consultation with the University of Massachusetts, change the methodology by which the Commonwealth seeks reimbursement from the federal Medicaid program for students educated pursuant to Chapter 71B of the General Laws from the current “per diem” format, so-called, to a “fee-for-service” format, so-called.
(2) Certification of Increased Reimbursement – Not later than thirty days following the initial receipt of funds pursuant to the “fee-for-service” methodology and in periods of not more than ninety days thereafter, the Secretary shall certify the amount by which reimbursement received using this methodology exceeds the amount which would have otherwise been received, taking into account inflation and any other relevant factors. Such excess amount shall be deposited into the Special Education Assistance Fund established herein.
(3) There shall be established and set up on the books of the Commonwealth the Special Education Assistance Fund, into which shall be deposited sums resulting from federal Medicaid reimbursement pursuant to subsection (2) of this section.
Not less than seventy-five percent of the total amount in said fund shall be appropriated annually for the purposes of assisting municipalities and regional school districts with the cost of transportation of students provided pursuant to Chapter 71B of the General Laws. Said appropriation shall be made in a form designed to ensure equity among students and local educational authorities by utilizing a methodology based on a uniform percentage of eligible transportation costs to be compensated.
The remainder of said fund shall be available for appropriation in the form of grants of assistance to private institutions providing educational services pursuant to Chapter 766 of the Acts of 1972 and its implementing regulations.
No funds provided in this section shall be considered funding for the purposes of Section 72 of Chapter 44 of the General Laws.
(4) The Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Administration and finance and the Commissioner of the Department of Education, in consultation with the University of Massachusetts, shall develop a system of acquiring from municipalities and regional school districts the information necessary to utilize a fee-for-service method of reimbursement from the federal Medicaid system following the passage of this act and prior to a request for a change in reimbursement methodology to the federal government.
Said system shall be designed to maximize efficiency and minimize the cost and burden of compliance for municipalities and regional school districts.
(d) (1) Section 4A of Chapter 40 of the General Laws is amended by striking out the first sentence of said section and inserting the following new sentence:
“The chief executive officer of a city or town, or a board, committee or officer otherwise authorized by law to execute a contract in the name of a governmental unit, as hereinafter defined, may enter on behalf of such unit into an agreement with one or more other governmental units to perform jointly or for such other unit or units any services, activities or undertakings which any of the contracting unties is authorized by law to perform, if such agreement is authorized by the parties thereto, in a city by the city council with the approval of the mayor, in a town by the Board of Selectmen and in a district by the Prudential Committee; provided, however, that when such agreement involves the expenditures of funds for establishing supplementary education centers and innovative educational programs, the agreement and its termination shall be authorized by the school committee.”
(2) Section 4A of Chapter 40 of the General Laws is amended by striking the last sentence of the first paragraph of said section and inserting the following new sentence:
“The words “governmental unit” as used herein shall mean a city, town, a regional school district, a district as defined in section one A, regional planning commissions, however constituted, regional transit authorities established under the provisions of chapter one hundred and sixty-one B, a water and sewer commission established under the provisions of chapter forty N or of a special law, counties, and a state agency as defined in section one of chapter six A”.
(e) Section 18 of Chapter 32B of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2004 official edition, is hereby amended by striking out the entire section and inserting in place thereof the following new sections:-
“Section 18 (a) In a governmental unit which has accepted the provisions of section ten and which accepts the provisions of this subsection, all retirees, their spouses and dependents insured or eligible to be insured under this chapter, if enrolled in medicare part A at no cost to the retiree, spouse or dependents or eligible for coverage thereunder at no cost to the retiree, spouse or dependents, shall be required to transfer to a medicare extension plan offered by the governmental unit under section eleven C or section sixteen; provided, that benefits under said plan and medicare part A and part B together shall be of comparable actuarial value to those under the retiree’s existing coverage. Each retiree shall provide the governmental unit, in such form as the governmental unit shall prescribe, such information as is necessary to transfer to a medicare extension plan. If a retiree does not submit the information required, he shall no longer be eligible for his existing health coverage. The governmental unit may from time to time request from any retiree, a retiree’s spouse and dependents, proof certified by the federal government of their eligibility or ineligibility for medicare part A and part B coverage. The governmental unit shall pay any medicare part B premium penalty assessed by the federal government on said retirees, spouses and dependents as a result of enrollment in medicare part B at the time of transfer into the medicare health benefits supplemental plan.
This subsection shall take effect in a county, except Worcester county, city, town or district upon its acceptance in the following manner: In a county, by vote of the county commissioners; in a city having a Plan D or Plan E charter, by a majority vote of its city council; in any other city, by vote of its city council, approved by the mayor; in a district, except as hereinafter provided, by vote of the registered voters of the district at a district meeting; in a regional school district, by vote of the regional district school committee; and in a town, either by vote of the town at a town meeting or, by a majority of affirmative votes cast in answer to the following question which shall be printed upon the official ballot to be used at an election of said town – ‘Shall the town require that all retirees, their spouses and dependents who are enrolled in medicare part A at no cost to a retiree, their spouse or dependents, or eligible for coverage thereunder at no cost to a retiree, their spouse or dependents, be required to enroll in a medicare health benefits supplement plan offered by the town?’
Section 18 (b). In a governmental unit which has accepted the provisions of section ten and which accepts the provisions of this subsection, all health benefit eligible retirees who retire after the governmental unit’s acceptance of this subsection, their spouses and dependents insured or eligible to be insured under this chapter, if enrolled in medicare part A at no cost to the retiree, spouse or dependents or eligible for coverage thereunder at no cost to the retiree, spouse or dependents, shall be required to transfer to a medicare extension plan offered by the governmental unit under section eleven C or section sixteen; provided, that benefits under said plan and medicare part A and part B together shall be of comparable actuarial value to those under the retiree’s existing coverage. Each benefit eligible individual who retires after the governmental unit’s acceptance of this subsection shall provide the governmental unit, in such form as the governmental unit shall prescribe, such information as is necessary to transfer to a medicare extension plan. If such a retiree does not submit the information required, the retiree shall no longer be eligible for his existing health coverage. The governmental unit may from time to time request from any retiree who retires after the governmental unit’s acceptance of this subsection, and/or the retiree’s spouse and dependents, proof certified by the federal government of their eligibility or ineligibility for medicare part A and part B coverage. The governmental unit shall pay any medicare part B premium penalty assessed by the federal government on said retirees, spouses and dependents as a result of enrollment in medicare part B at the time of transfer into the medicare health benefits supplemental plan. Notwithstanding anything in this subsection to the contrary, no retiree, their spouse or dependent, shall be required to enroll in medicare part B and a medicare extension plan if said requirement would require the retiree to purchase a separate non-medicare extension plan in order to provide coverage for a non-medicare eligible spouse or dependent.
No retiree, their spouse or dependent, who retires prior to the acceptance of this subsection by a governmental unit, shall be subject to the provisions of this subsection, except as provided herein. Any retiree, their spouse or dependent, retired prior to a governmental unit’s acceptance of this subsection, shall be eligible for benefits under this chapter as if this subsection had not been accepted by the governmental unit, provided that any health benefit eligible retiree, their spouse and dependents insured or eligible to be insured under this chapter, if enrolled in medicare part A at no cost to the retiree, spouse or dependents or eligible for coverage thereunder at no cost to the retiree, spouse or dependents, may voluntarily enroll in a medicare extension plan offered by the governmental unit under section eleven C or section sixteen under the same terms as are available to any retiree, spouse or dependent under this subsection. If any such eligible retiree, their spouse or dependents voluntarily enrolls in such a medicare extension plan, said individual shall no longer be eligible to participate in any other group health insurance benefits available to active employees under this chapter.
This subsection shall take effect in a county, except Worcester county, city, town or district upon its acceptance in the following manner: In a county, by vote of the county commissioners; in a city having a Plan D or Plan E charter, by a majority vote of its city council; in any other city, by vote of its city council, approved by the mayor; in a district, except as hereinafter provided, by vote of the registered voters of the district at a district meeting; in a regional school district, by vote of the regional district school committee; and in a town, either by vote of the town at a town meeting or, by a majority of affirmative votes cast in answer to the following question which shall be printed upon the official ballot to be used at an election of said town – ‘Shall the governmental unit require that all individuals who retire after the governmental unit’s acceptance of this subsection and their spouses and dependents who are enrolled in medicare part A at no cost to a retiree, their spouse or dependents, or eligible for coverage thereunder at no cost to a retiree, their spouse or dependents, be required to enroll in a medicare health benefits supplement plan offered by the governmental unit?’”.
(f) Section 44A of Chapter 149 of the General Laws is hereby amended by striking Section 2 and replacing it with the following:-
“(2)(A) Every contract for the construction, reconstruction, installation, demolition, maintenance or repair of any building by a public agency estimated to cost less than $5,000 shall conform to sound business practices.
(B) Every contract for the construction, reconstruction, installation, demolition, maintenance or repair of any building by a public agency estimated to cost not less than $5,000 but not more than $10,000 shall be awarded to the responsible person offering to perform the contract at the lowest price quotation; provided, however, that the public agency shall seek written price quotations from no fewer than 3 persons customarily providing the work for which the contract is being made available. When seeking written quotations the public agency shall make and keep a record of the names and addresses of all persons from whom price quotations were sought, the names of the persons submitting price quotations and the date and amount of each price quotation.
(C) Every contract for the construction, reconstruction, installation, demolition, maintenance or repair of any building estimated to cost more than $10,000 but not more than $25,000 shall be awarded to the responsible person offering to perform the contract at the lowest price. The public agency shall make public notification of the contract and shall seek written responses from persons who customarily perform such work. The public notification shall include a scope of work statement that defines the work to be performed and provides potential responders with sufficient information regarding the objectives and requirements of the public agency and the time period within which the work is to be completed. For purposes of this subsection “public notification” shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, posting, no less than 2 weeks before the time specified in the notification for the receipt of responses, the contract and scope of work statement on the website of the public agency, on the COMPASS system, so-called, or in the central register established under section 20A of chapter 9, and in a conspicuous place in or near the primary office of the public agency.
(D) Every contract for the construction, reconstruction, installation, demolition, maintenance or repair of any building by a public agency estimated to cost more than $25,000 but not more than $100,000, except for a pumping station to be constructed as an integral part of a sewer construction or water construction project bid under the provisions of section 39M of chapter 30, shall be awarded to the lowest responsible and eligible bidder on the basis of competitive bids publicly opened and read in accordance with the procedure set forth in said section 39M of said chapter 30. The term “pumping station” as used in this section shall mean a building or other structure which houses solely pumps and appurtenant electrical and plumbing fixtures.
(E) Every contract for the construction, reconstruction, installation, demolition, maintenance or repair of any building by a public agency estimated to cost more than $100,000, except for a pumping station to be constructed as an integral part of a sewer construction or water construction project bid under the provisions of section 39M of chapter 30, shall be awarded to the lowest responsible and eligible general bidder on the basis of competitive bids in accordance with the procedure set forth in section 44A to 44H, inclusive.
(F) When the general court has approved the use of an alternative mode of procurement of construction for a project pursuant to section 7E of chapter 29, the awarding authority responsible for procuring construction services for the project shall follow the policies and procedures of this section and of section 44B to 44H, inclusive, to the extent compatible with the mode of construction procurement selected.
(G) Notwithstanding paragraph (E), a public agency may undertake the procurement of modular buildings, in accordance with section 44E. A public agency may procure site work for modular buildings, including but not limited to, construction of foundations, installations, and attachment to external utilities, or any portion of site work, either in combination with the procurement of modular buildings pursuant to section 44E or on the basis of competitive bids pursuant to the paragraph (E). Notwithstanding the paragraph (E), a public agency may procure energy management services in accordance with section 11C of chapter 25A and regulations promulgated thereunder.”
(g) (1) Section 2 of Chapter 30B of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended, after line 36 by inserting the following:-
“Electric bidding”, the electronic solicitation and receipt of offers to contract for supplies and services. Offers may be accepted and contracts may be entered by use of electronic bidding.
(2) Section 2 of Chapter 30B of the General Laws, as 50 appearing, is hereby amended, after line 90 by inserting the following:-
“Reverse auction”, a competitive online solicitation process for supplies and services in which vendors compete against each other online in real time in an open and interactive environment.
(3) Chapter 30B of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by adding after Section 6 the following new section:-
“6A. (a) A chief procurement officer may enter into procurement contracts in the amount of $25,000 or more utilizing reverse auctions for the acquisition of supplies and services. The reverse auction process shall include a specification of an opening date and time when real-time electronic bids may be accepted, and provide that the procedure shall remain open until the designated closing date and time.
(b) All bids on reverse auctions shall be posted electronically on the Internet, updated on a real-time basis, and shall allow registered bidders to lower the price of their bid below the lowest bid on the Internet.
(c) The chief procurement officer shall require vendors to register before the reverse auction opening date and time, and as part of the registration, agree to any terms and conditions and other requirements of the solicitation. The chief procurement officer may require vendors to be pre-qualified prior to placing bids in a reverse auction. The pre-qualification criteria shall include, but not be limited to statements of vendors: financial stability, past performances and professional references. The statement of qualifications shall be signed under pains and penalties of perjury.”
(4) Any mechanism, including but not limited to software, developed by the Operational Services Division for the purpose of conducting reverse auctions by the Commonwealth, shall provide for the utilization of such mechanism by municipalities. The Operational Services Division may assess any municipality utilizing such reverse auction mechanism a reasonable fee, calculated to compensate for any increased cost attributable to such utilization, which shall be credited to the general fund.”

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12 Responses to Municipal Relief Package

  1. Jules Gordon says:

    Your Honor,

    I printed out this monster. I will go through and get back to you.

    Jules

    Like

  2. Bob LeBlanc says:

    No need Jules..lots of hope…or the audacity of hope I guess is more appropriate. Let’s see what the conference committee really does..but adoption might mean a better reimbursement system some. What it means for Methuen is not disclosed and I wonder why if this is truly meaningful and not more bull!

    It seems to me that the busines of the Superintendant and her department is in educating children. It would seem that having the business end run by the Mayor and appropriate city departments would not only save money but free up more time for the educators to educate.

    We haven’t seen much reform from this new Superintendant who was brought in to shake things up and get more bang for the buck!

    The Superintendant is not the partner of the Mayor…she is a department head like all the rest. She works for teh Mayor…and don’t tell me its the School Committee..he had the votes to bring her in and he has the votes to change the system!

    Wonder how she is administering her grants?

    And while we are on the subject, what has been the performance on the part of the Superintendant in riding illegal aliens and all non-Methuen kids from the system. At $9,000 a year per child..we could really save money and make the schools safer if we had effective policies actually implemented to make sure that only Methuen kids went to Methuen schools.

    Teachers tell me that this is a major problem and that the Superintendant tells them to just shut up about it.

    Like

  3. Jules Gordon says:

    Your Honor,

    I have no way of determining if this legislation will provide the tools you will need to accomplish your goals of realizing substantial savings derived from having more management control over running the town.

    Remember it’s your opinion that will determine if you buy or I buy.

    Will Methuen get Municipal Relief?

    Will this help reach your goal?

    Like

  4. Bob LeBlanc says:

    Now Mr Mayor, please explain why it is that Methuen taxpayers have paid for ALL NEW SCHOOLS for Lawrence…while Lawrence pays nothing..and yet when it comes time for Methuen..we have to settle for something less than a new High School..and have to pay approximately $36 MILLION…???

    I just do not understand how that happens…Sen Baddour is on the Ways and Means Committee…why is Methuen not getting a better deal?

    Like

  5. Bill Manzi says:

    Jules,
    I believe that the relief package, if passed in the conference committee, will indeed be a step forward. It is disappointing that the school section was changed, but overall it is progress. I think that fairness calls it in my favor, but the school issue may blunt my victory. I agree to buy!
    Bill

    Like

  6. Bill Manzi says:

    Bob,
    As you know the City of Lawrence is a special case, with 100 percent of all of their school spending picked up by the state. I believe that their High School was a DOE project carried forward. Our High School will be governed by the new School Building Authority, with all of the attendant rules, regs and percentages. The legislature has earmarked one penny of the sales tax to school building assistance. The new authority is bound to live within that number. Senator Baddour was instrumental in getting us positioned for this project, and has done a wonderful job of helping us every step of the way. I think Jules may be right about your feelings towards Senator Baddour!

    Like

  7. Summer says:

    Bob……and just what have you done for God and Country lately other than spout your venom. The Superintendent reported to the City Council last week at the budget meeting specifically about the number of out of town students that were discovered and sent packing. Senator Baddour and Rep. Linda Dean Campbell were successful, along with the Mayor, is realizing funding for the renovation of our High School. You are just not paying attention!

    Like

  8. Jules Gordon says:

    Your Honor,

    I read, then re-read your “agreement” to buy.

    You truly marshaled all your political skills in this document.

    I could not tell, as I read, if you won, kinda won, won if certain things happen, won because there was progress (collecting bet on future events) or you won because it(?) was fair.

    But, you’ll buy. Huh?!

    This got to be entered in the Political Hall of Fame under short, sweet and obfuscated.

    I’ll take it. (pithy)

    Let me know when.

    Jules

    Like

  9. Bill Manzi says:

    Thank you for the compliment about blurring the facts here. It is clear to me that while my position is truly the winning one there may be some doubt due to the school issue, hence my willingness to buy. I do however reserve the right to limit you on the size of the beverage. Your earlier position that Starbucks would need to add a supersized coffee for this occasion must be rejected.

    Like

  10. Jules Gordon says:

    I will settle for large. Shees.

    Jules

    Like

  11. Jules Gordon says:

    Your Honor,

    Just let me know date and time. (I assume it will be at the loop.)

    Jules

    Like

  12. Bill Manzi says:

    Yes the loop it is. I will give you a couple of days next week to pick from by Friday! Looking forward to seeing you again!

    Like

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