On April 9, Secretary for Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez announced my appointment as the state-appointed overseer for the City of Lawrence. The position is a challenge given the fiscal condition of the City, but with the support of Mayor William Lantigua, the City Council, and the backing of the Gov. Deval Patrick and his administration, I believe Lawrence can be brought back to fiscal health. I would not have accepted the position otherwise.

While taking on these new responsibilities, I will continue to serve as Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Revenue's Division of Local Services. DLS will continue to serve cities and towns, as it always has, as a source of guidance, advice, oversight and problem-solving. I look forward to continuing our work with local officials across the Commonwealth on the many issues that face city and town governments.

One of those issues is regionalization. The report of the Regionalization Advisory Commission, released on April 30, is online at www.mass.gov/governor/regional.

It is full of findings, background, references and recommendations and will set the stage for our continued efforts to promote regionalization in locales where it makes sense and is cost effective.

DLS is also closely following the Municipal Relief bill as it moves from the House to the Senate. The extension of pension funding schedules to 2040 and the early retirement local option for cities and towns are both particularly helpful measures for cities and towns.

We were pleased to see support in the House for the reallocation of certification communities' proposal and hope for the same as the bill moves on to the Senate. This comprehensive proposal, which would encourage regional cooperation in assessing, would more evenly distribute the work and resources required from both DLS and private vendors to conduct triennial property tax certifications in the Commonwealth's 351 cities and towns by equalizing the number of communities engaged in this process every year. The current system swings from a high of 135 communities in one year to a low of 88 in another year.

Robert G. Nunes