TABOR and Membership Survey

(from Maine Townsman, November 2006)
By Chris Lockwood, MMA Executive Director

I want to recognize and thank our State and Federal Relations (SFR) staff, in particular, for their untiring work on Question 1, the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TABOR) campaign. Geoff Herman, Kate Dufour and Jeff Austin traveled across the state this summer and fall, making presentations to hundreds of municipal officials and interested citizens. Most of these presentations were on evenings and weekends. Laura Veilleux of the SFR staff did a masterful job of coordinating these presentations and received strong support from the MMA Central Services staff in the compilation of thousands of information packets that we distributed.

Political issue campaigns are by their very nature intense and polarizing. This was certainly the case in the TABOR campaign. To be sure, MMA got "caught up in the fray" at various points, but as a practice we recognize the importance of maintaining civility in our discussion of public policy issues and demonstrating respect for individuals and organizations with differing views.

MMA's reputation and credibility are vitally important. We strive to produce materials that are well researched and based on sound data and policy analyses. We represent the policy positions adopted by the MMA Legislative Policy Committee and MMA Executive Committee as strongly and accurately as possible. If we make an error and it is brought to our attention, we'll correct it and own up to it. We take great exception to assertions made by certain commentators that MMA issued misleading information and lied. These assertions were unfounded and slanderous.

Although Question 1 was rejected on November 7, it is clear that more work is needed to ensure that Maine moves in the right direction to strengthen our economy and to address the longstanding concerns regarding Maine's high state and local tax burden. MMA is committed to secure enactment during the next legislative session of the Alternative Proposal ( announced in mid-October by a coalition of organizations including the Maine State Chamber of Commerce, the Maine Education Association, the Maine Municipal Association, the Maine Hospital Association, the Maine Better Transportation Association and the Maine Service Centers Coalition.


Included in this month's Townsman is a pullout article reporting on the results of the Association's 2006 Membership Survey. Patrick Murphy, President of Pan Atlantic SMS Group, the strategic market research firm MMA engaged to conduct this year's survey, wrote this article that provides an overview of the survey results and findings.

It's been five years since MMA conducted its last membership survey. Membership surveys help us gauge how well we are serving our members and help us plan services and programs of value to our members in the future. Overall, we were very pleased with the survey's key findings outlined in Patrick Murphy's summary and thank all the municipal officials who took the time to complete and return the survey tool. We know it was a lengthy survey, but appreciate the good response rate from members. Your opinions are most valuable to MMA. The survey responses contain a great deal of information the Association can use as part of our ongoing strategic and business planning process. We are pleased that the survey reflects a high degree of satisfaction with the Association and our services and helps us evaluate our strengths and weaknesses.

Over the next few months, MMA's Executive Committee and staff will be reviewing and discussing the 2006 membership survey results in detail. In addition, and as a follow-up to the survey, we will be conducting a series of regional "front porch" meetings early next year at which we will invite municipal officials to gather to discuss the survey results and how MMA can best serve your diverse needs for services and programs. We hope to schedule a "front porch" meeting in each of the regions of the state represented by the twelve members of the MMA Executive Committee. An Executive Committee member and MMA staff will conduct the meetings. We will be announcing the schedule for these meetings in the near future and hope you can join us to help shape the Association's future.

The 2006 Membership Survey provides the Executive Committee with a great deal of "food for thought" in areas such as the MMA Convention, the Maine Townsman, electronic communications and new and expanded regional training programs. We hope to get more recommendations from elected and appointed municipal officials on these important program areas at the regional meetings.

One of the major underlying themes we have been able to identify from the survey result that is consistent with findings from prior membership surveys is the need for the Association to maintain its "personal touch" with its members. Whether it's the MMA front desk receptionist who welcomes your call, the Risk Management Services or Health Trust representative who visits your community or the call back or training session from one of our Legal Services attorneys, you have told us how important that personal touch is. The 2006 Membership Surveys has indicated ways in which we can strengthen that commitment to a "personal touch" approach to serving our members.

We welcome your opinions and recommendations and look forward to serving you and your community.