Legislative Session and MMA Building

(from Maine Townsman, July 2005)
By Chris Lockwood, MMA Executive Director

This issue of the Townsman provides a wrap-up of the recently concluded legislative session. From an MMA perspective, it is difficult to reconcile the finished work of the Legislature with the ballot measure (commonly known as Question 1A) adopted by the voters on June 8, 2004.

The Legislature’s actions present a challenge for local officials. The adoption of Question 1A had raised public expectations of meaningful property tax relief; however, the extent of property tax relief in many communities has been significantly constrained as a result of the actions of the Legislature (e.g., phasing in the implementation of the school funding provisions, using Essential Programs and Services as the basis for determining education costs, and cutting local aid programs and shifting other costs to the property tax in the revised State Budget).

I strongly encourage municipal officials to write letters to your local paper and to seek other forums to explain how your individual communities have been affected by these State actions and your efforts to provide property tax relief. You are in the best position to share this information and help your citizens, and your legislators, to understand the actual impacts on your community. Please contact MMA’s Communications Department if you would like assistance in this effort.

Update on MMA Physical Space Issues
During the last several years, MMA has been experiencing a number of physical space pressures in various parts of the MMA building. In large part, these pressures reflect the significant increase in participation in MMA’s Risk Management Services programs and the need to ensure we maintain appropriate staffing levels to keep pace with increased claims management, underwriting and loss control needs.

As we worked with the MMA Executive Committee to review these issues and evaluate available options, we formulated a two-pronged approach. The first prong, as described in the following paragraphs, is a strategy to address our most acute space needs for the next several years. The second prong will be a more in-depth review of MMA’s longer term space needs tied-in with an outreach to the membership to obtain input on MMA’s future programs and services.

As a result of the review of options to meet our most acute space needs, we will be proceeding this summer to convert the large downstairs conference room in the MMA building into office space. We will relocate members of the Health Trust staff to this new office space, thereby relieving the overcrowding in the Risk Management Services area.

We are working with the Augusta Civic Center on an arrangement to accommodate the larger MMA and affiliate group meetings and workshops that formerly would have been held in the large MMA conference room. Through this arrangement, we are seeking to minimize the additional cost of holding these meetings off-site. Given the Civic Center’s proximity, it is our hope that members attending functions at the Civic Center will be close enough to visit the MMA office building and engage with MMA staff members as much as possible.

While we certainly regret the loss of the large conference room as meeting space, it was the judgment of the MMA Executive Committee and management that this was the most cost effective manner in which to meet our physical space needs for the next several years. We appreciate your understanding and are hopeful these arrangements will enable MMA to continue to provide quality service to our members.

We thank you for your support and participation. Please contact me (1-800-452-8786; clockwood@memun.org ) if you have questions or would like to discuss any of these issues.