Lt. Gov. Polito Signs Community Compact
Shown (L-R): Selectman Jerry Mayhew, State Senator Ryan Fattman, Selectmen Mike Soter and Don Martinis, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito, Town Administrator Denis Fraine, and State Rep. Kevin Kuros
On January 26, Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito came to the Bellingham Municipal Center to sign a Community Compact with local leaders. The compact has been in the works for several months, with today marking the official start of the agreement between the town and the state.
“We submitted an application in September,” explained Town Administrator Denis Fraine, who was on hand for the signing. ”It was a way for the state to identify capital needs of the town and provide financial assistance.”
The Community Compact program was founded on a campaign promise of the Baker/Polito administration to devote more resources back to the cities and towns in the Commonwealth. It’s a voluntary, mutual agreement between the administration and the town whereby the town agrees to implement one of the self-selected best practices to strengthen their community and the Commonwealth agrees to fulfill its own set of commitments and works to provide assistance for the community.
The compact application mentions that the town has been striving to improve its infrastructure, particularly in the south side of town with regard to water and sewer systems. While the town has invested fifteen million dollars in the sewer project, much of south Bellingham still relies on private septic systems, and the lack of access to public sewers is inhibiting growth. According to the application, the town is asking for technical assistance and access to grant money to expand its sewer system throughout south Bellingham to support future growth in both housing and business development.
Mike Soter, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, talked about what the compact means for Bellingham: ”The compact is an agreement between the state and the community, where the state will provide funding and assistance to the town for local initiatives. Some infrastructure needs we have include updating the sewer system, especially in the south side of town and in the area of the former Macy school, and a safety issue with the 495 overlay in the north side of town, specifically concerning roads and bridges.”
Senator Ryan Fattman and Rep. Kevin Kuros were also present for the signing, and both made short speeches praising the community compact program. Senator Fattman thanked the Lieutenant Governor for her heavy involvement at the local level and her dedication to helping cities and towns. He mentioned that, since she was once a selectman herself, the Lieutenant Governor understands what it’s like to balance budgets on a local level. Representative Kuros praised the contract as a sign of good faith between the town and the state and mentioned that it could ease the process for grant applications in the future.
The Lieutenant Governor is proud of the fact that 117 communities have signed similar contracts for capital needs, with many more in the pipeline.
”Our first executive order was focused on building a relationship with cities and towns and assisting them without pushing unfunded mandates,” the Lieutenant Governor said. She thanked the legislature for approving $2.6 million in support for the program, which has been used to fund over three hundred initiatives that are underway in similar communities. The administration is looking forward to working with the town to address capital needs, find better ways to solve problems, and better serve residents.