Municipal Bulletin Board
(from the December 2009 Maine Townsman)

REQUIRED POSTERS

Employers in Maine are required by law to post certain posters in the workplace where workers can see them.

You can get the required State and Federal posters on the Maine Department of Labor website, www.maine.gov/labor/posters/. Most of the required posters are available as PDF files which can be printed from the site at no cost.

UPDATED PACKETS

Two of the MMA Legal Information Packets have been updated and are available online at the MMA website, www.memun.org

Updated information has been added to the “Moratorium Ordinances” and “Road Weight Limits” legal packets.

These information packets are in the “member” section area of the MMA website.

ROADS MANUAL

A new version of MMA’s Municipal Roads Manual is now available. The new edition replaces the one published in 1999, including the three supplements added since that time.

To purchase a printed copy of the manual, call MMA Publications at 1-800-452-8786. To view or download an online copy of the manual, go to the MMA website at www.memun.org

All MMA manuals are in the “member” section area of the website.

SPENT STIMULUS

States and localities spent a quarter of the money they are set to receive from the federal stimulus package – an amount that tops $69.1 billion – by late November, according to a report released by federal auditors on December 10, 2009.

Of that sum, 85 percent was spent on health care, education and training, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded.

Because of the recession, states are grappling with higher enrollment in Medicaid, the state-federal health insurance program for poor Americans. Most of the new enrollees are children, the agency noted.

In discussions with state officials, the federal auditors confirmed that most are worried about what happens when higher Medicaid reimbursement rates included in the stimulus package expire in December 2010.

But some of the strings attached to that money are also causing headaches for state officials. The law, for example, specifies that certain Medicaid providers must be paid promptly, which officials in a sample of 16 states said was the most difficult requirement under the law. Four of the states said, for at least one day, they missed deadlines for on-time payments to providers.

The speed with which states are spending new money for highways and other transportation projects varies greatly, the GAO said. Illinois and Iowa are among the most speedy states, but that’s because both Midwestern states dedicated much of their money to repaving and reconstructing existing roads. Florida and California have been much slower. Florida is using its money to build new highways, while California is funneling most of its money through local governments, which adds more time to the process. (from “Weekly Wrap”, by Stephen C. Fehr, Stateline.org, December 11, 2009)

STATE TAX HIKES

Twenty-nine states raised taxes or fees this year, bringing in an estimated $23.9 billion — the highest increase since at least 1979, according to data released this week. The reliance on so much new revenue is sudden, to say the least. In the previous year, tax and fee hikes totaled $1.5 billion.

That’s the word from the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers, which together issued a state-by-state tally of actions taken to close ever-expanding budget gaps and balance state spending plans. The report is an update of preliminary numbers released last month.

Eleven states upped their personal income taxes, accounting for $10.7 billion in new revenue. But a closer look reveals that most of that comes from just two states: California and New York, which raised payroll taxes for a combined $8.4 billion. California also accounted for $4.4 billion of the $6.1 billion in new sales taxes nationally.

Meanwhile, 22 states and Puerto Rico used layoffs to trim state expenses, and 23 states applied across-the-board cuts, according to the study.

The final report paints an even grimmer picture of state finances for the current fiscal year (FY 2010) than last year, which was plenty painful. Last year’s general fund spending by states shrank by 4.8 percent and marked the first time on record that state year-to-year spending dropped two years in a row. There will likely be a third year: The report estimated that state spending this year will drop even more, by an “unprecedented” 5.4 percent. (from “Weekly Wrap”, by Daniel C. Vock, Stateline.org, December 4, 2009)

ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROJECTS

Communities that submitted applications for funding under the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants (EECBG) may want to contact Northeast Energy Efficiency Partnerships (NEEP) for assistance with their energy efficiency projects for public buildings.

NEEP provides guidance through best practices, case studies and resources to help local officials ensure good planning, coordination, design and operation of buildings that are well-built, healthy and energy efficient.

NEEP works with policymakers, energy efficiency program administrators and other stakeholders to advance the efficient use of energy in homes, buildings and communities. NEEP specializes in the area of high performance buildings and is coordinator of the Northeast Collaborative for High Performance Schools.

To find more information on NEEP and the assistance it offers, go to the NEEP website at www.neep.org

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