Governor Deval Patrick and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray have awarded 35 cities and towns designations as the Commonwealth's very first "Green Communities," which now makes them eligible to compete for $8.1 million in state grants for local renewable power and energy efficiency projects. This is an exciting step in a relatively new Patrick-Murray program for cities and towns.

In a statement issued on May 25, Governor Patrick thanked all the communities involved for their vision and effort, saying, "These pioneers are notable not only for their commitment to a cleaner, greener Massachusetts, but also for their diversity. From tiny towns to major cities and suburbs in all regions of the state, Massachusetts communities recognize the benefits, for the economy as well as the environment, of making clean energy choices."

Lt. Governor Tim Murray added that not only is this initiative good for the economy, but good for job growth as well; "It's great to see so many communities dedicated to saving energy, making new construction as energy efficient as possible, and accommodating clean energy investment and jobs in support of a stronger, more sustainable future for Massachusetts."

The grant program for the first time is offering cities and towns the opportunity to find energy savings for residents and to reduce the environmental impact of municipal operations. Now that the 35 communities have met the clean energy benchmarks allotting them this state designation, they will now submit applications due on June 4th for grants that will be awarded later this month.

For more information on this new program, including a new round of grants to be awarded later this year, read the Governor's announcement or visit http://www.mass.gov/eea/energy-utilities-clean-tech/green-communities/.

While the "Green Communities" initiative is just kicking off, the local option meals tax pdf format of 2009_15B.pdf approved last year has taken off, so far delivering more than $11 million to cities and towns, with more joining during town meeting and budget approval season. At last count, 103 communities have signed on. The response indicates that nearly a third of Commonwealth communities view this local option as an effective way to raise additional, unrestricted revenue in these tough budget times.

Deputy%20Commissioner%20%26amp%3B%20Director%20of%20Municipal%20Affairs