Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito was in Rochester on Thursday, February 19 to join Selectmen Chairman Richard Nunes in signing a Community Compact, a voluntary agreement between the Baker-Polito Administration and the Town of Rochester to implement one out of a list of seven best practices.
This Community Compact Cabinet, the first executive order from Governor Charlie Baker, aims at elevating the administration’s partnerships with municipalities throughout the state and allows the governor’s office to work more closely with city and town leaders. Governor Baker said when he signed the executive order that the Community Compact Cabinet “gives cities and towns a real seat at the table” in the Baker-Polito Administration.
“We wanted to signal right out of the box that we are an administration that values the work that is being done at the local level. You’re on the frontlines,” Polito said, motioning to the employees seated before her. “We wanted to signal to you that we wanted to be your partner and that we support you in the work that you do each and every day. It’s about community partnership.”
From the practice areas of education, energy and environment, financial management, housing and economic development, information and technology, regionalization/shared services, and transportation and citizen safety, Rochester chose to build on its recent adoption of its “Right to Farm” bylaw under economic development.
“You basically can’t spin around [in Rochester] without seeing a cranberry bog,” said Town Administrator Michael McCue before the Town Hall meeting room packed with town employees, officials, and residents. “We’re so invested in this community and agriculture…. The cranberry business is really the lifeblood of the Town of Rochester and many of its residents.”
Nunes said the town chose to enter into the agreement with the state because, “The Town of Rochester is always trying to be more efficient and improve our service and government.”
Polito congratulated the Town on its choice to enter into the compact, commenting that she understood that the last thing any town needs is another unfunded mandate. The town decides on which best practice to implement, and the town in return is eligible for certain state-funded grants, as well as “bonus points” towards grants that could benefit the town at the regional level.
“You have a very unique community. I could see quite clearly in my times passing through what a beautiful community it really is,” said Polito. “To choose a best practice around the Right to Farm bylaw is very appropriate for you … We want to reward communities that are working hard to do things right.”
Rochester is the 150th municipality in Massachusetts out of 351 that has signed the Community Compact within a year’s time.
“Which tells you that there was a need to have this kind of positive compact and program come into place,” said Polito.
Today is a good day, Polito said before she and Nunes took their pens to sign the document.
“We appreciate what you do each and every day, and [we want] to assure you that you have a strong, reliable partner in our administration, and this compact is just one more way we can mark a milestone of success for you,” said Polito. “But success is never final. There’s always more to do, so I look forward to being able to do that with all of you.”
By Jean Perry