Boston- State Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D-Pittsfield) has been appointed by Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) to represent the Senate on the Special Municipal Relief Commission to examine the feasibility of innovative local revenue-generating measures in an effort to provide revenue relief to municipalities.
“Just like every other sector in the economy, our cities and towns are feeling financial pressure as they seek to maintain current levels of essential services,” said Downing. “This Commission is tasked with assessing viable options to assist municipalities with new revenue sources and cost saving measures.”
“I asked Senator Downing to represent the Senate on the Municipal Relief Commission because, as the senator for 48 communities in the Commonwealth, he understands that every community across Massachusetts is struggling to make ends meet,” said Senate President Therese Murray. “I am confident that Senator Downing will bring an important voice to the discussion of how cities and towns can find some economic relief.”
Created in Section 97 of Chapter 173 of the Acts of 2008, An Act Relative to Tax Fairness and Business Competitiveness, the fourteen-member commission consists of seven state senators and seven state representatives, specifically the chairs of the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government and the Joint Committee on Revenue, the Senate and House Committees on Ways and Means, the Senate and House Minority Leaders or their designees, three Senate members appointed by the President, and three House members appointed by the Speaker.
As the Senator of the Berkshire, Hampshire and Franklin District, Downing represents 48 western Massachusetts communities – more cities and towns than any other member of the Massachusetts Senate.
The panel is charged with studying the expansion of the meals tax; the extension of the rooms tax to other transient accommodations not currently covered under the rooms tax; and other methods of enhancing revenues or containing expenses. With a reporting deadline of December 15, 2008, Commission Co-Chairmen Senator Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst) and Representative Paul J. Donato (D-Medford) have scheduled a meeting on November 18th to begin the panel’s work.