In The News: Municipal

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Benefits liability hangs over budgets

Dec 18 2014

By Gerry Tuoti and William J. Dowd , Wicked Local

“I think the long-term issue is one of most significant facing municipalities in Massachusetts,” said Carolyn Ryan, assistant director of policy and research for the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. “It’s something where these costs are going to continue to build over time and are going to erode resources available for other important services. The longer you take to address them, the bigger the problem can become.”
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Editorial: The retiree dilemma

Sep 27 2014

The Boston Herald

Among those items of unfinished business the Patrick administration - and this sitting of the Legislature - leave behind is any attempt to reform the health care benefits paid to retired municipal workers that are bankrupting the state’s poorest communities.A new report by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation documents in distressing detail the scope of the problem. They studied spending for retiree health care by nine of the 10 municipalities with the lowest per capita income in the state (data for Fall River wasn’t available).
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Report: Retiree health costs equal nearly 20 percent of tax bills for single-family homeowners in Springfield, Holyoke

Sep 24 2014

By Jack Flynn, The Republican

Expanding health care costs for retired municipal workers equal nearly 20 percent of the property tax paid by the average single-family homeowner in Springfield and Holyoke, an analysis by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation has found.
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Retiree health costs straining budgets in poorer cities

Sep 22 2014

By Andy Metzger, State House New Service / WWLP

Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation analyzed the impact of growing retiree health costs on nine of the 10 cities with the lowest per capita incomes. In North Adams, for example, retiree health care amounts to 22 percent of the city’s property tax levy, or $445 on the average annual tax bill in North Adams. “Not only are property taxpayers funding retiree health care at the expense of other services, they are also funding a benefit that most of them do not receive,” the MTF report stated. “Few residents have access to any retiree health care benefits themselves, let alone the generous ones provided by municipalities.”

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I-Team investigation prompts change in Swansea police policy

Jul 14 2014

By Katie Davis, WJAR

The I-Team took what it found to the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. "The idea that the same individual would call in sick and then do a police detail, that's a first that I've heard of," the foundation's Michael Widmer said. Widmer said he believes the real problem is New England's police detail system.
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Prop 2½ waivers mostly waived off at polls

May 25 2014

By Donna Boynton, Telegram & Gazette

"This is more or less a permanent condition," Mr. Widmer said, noting only modest increases in local aid that compete with rising costs of employee benefits, pensions and health care costs that are burdening communities lead to the need for overrides. "I think this reflects a growing sentiment on the part of taxpayers that they expect their government to manage within the means available. I think taxpayers' patience with overrides and the support for them is waning."
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Lancaster selectman: OPEB costs add up to $3.6 million

Apr 24 2014

By Michael Hartwell, Sentinel & Enterprise News

He endorsed a February report from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation finding that municipalities in the commonwealth have an aggregate $30 billion in unfunded OPEB liabilities.
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Editorial: As retiree health costs loom, towns need tougher reforms

Feb 24 2014

The Boston Globe

Many Massachusetts residents know that public pension liabilities pose a serious fiscal threat. The Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation reminds everyone that the unfunded retiree health care liabilities of cities and towns, which now stands at $30 billion, is more than double the unfunded pension liability. Patrick deserves credit for pushing such an important, but politically difficult, bill in his last year in office. But getting this problem under control it will require a more aggressive bill than the governor is now offering.
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Town and city budgets squeezed

Jan 8 2014

By Jim Hand, The Sun Chronicle

The cost of pensions, health care and debt is squeezing out funding for other municipal services and causing cities and towns to lay off workers, according to a report by the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. The foundation found that municipal spending on those three budget-busting areas jumped 23 percent from 2007 to 2012, while spending on everything else went up only 10 percent.
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Budget gaps threatening communities

Jan 8 2014

By Thor Jourgensen, The Daily Item

A taxpayer oversight group warned cities and towns face “a long-term budget squeeze” threatening to overtake efforts by municipal budget makers in Lynn, Marblehead and other communities to balance property tax money with careful spending on health care, pensions and debt. “Virtually no city and town is out of the woods,” cautioned Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation President Michael Widmer.
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