Hampshire Council of Governments
The Hampshire Council of Governments is a government entity with principal offices in Northampton, Massachusetts. It was chartered by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1998 as a successor to the 18th century government of Hampshire County. The focus of the Council is to help local governments solve problems through regional cooperation and save money, with a commitment to the concept of local control over local affairs.
Membership in the Hampshire Council is voluntary. Current towns with full membership include Belchertown, Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Granby, Hadley, Hatfield, Huntington, Middlefield, Pelham, Plainfield, South Hadley, Southampton, Westhampton, and Williamsburg. Each town has one or more Councilors, elected by the voters in their local Town Elections.
The Cooperative Purchasing program coordinates and administers a formal bidding process for bulk buying.
Hampshire County Group Insurance Trust The Hampshire Councilors serve as the trustees of the Hampshire County Group Insurance Trust, a cooperative effort to provide health and life insurance for 68 governmental units - of which twenty-six are public employers in Hampshire County, thirty-six in Franklin County, three in Hampden County, and three in Worcester County. The Insurance Trust serves approximately 10,000 employees and their dependents.
Hampshire Power and Community Choice Electricity Aggregation The Council has two programs providing low-cost electricity to customers in Western Massachusetts.
Hampshire Power serves eighty town governments, school districts, and fire and water districts in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester Counties. As of August 2012, customers have saved over $1.6 million on their bills. In addition, Hampshire Power serves one state agency, plus several non-profits and businesses.
The Hampshire Council has filed petitions for Municipal Aggregation of Electricity on behalf of 35 communities in Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester Counties. After approval by state regulators, the Council will arrange supply for those customers who have not chosen an independent supplier in the communities. These include Great Barrington in Berkshire County; Hampden in Hampden County; thirteen participating communities in Hampshire County including Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Granby, Hadley, Hatfield, Huntington, Middlefield, Northampton, Pelham, Plainfield, Westhampton, and Williamsburg; twelve Franklin County participating towns including Charlemont, Conway, Deerfield, Gill, Heath, Leverett, Montague, Northfield, Rowe, Warwick, Wendell, and Whately; and eight Worcester County participating towns: Barre, Brookfield, East Brookfield, Mendon, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Upton, and West Brookfield.
In addition to these 35 communities, other towns and cities are working to complete the initial process, including Egremont and Washington in Berkshire County; Bernardston and Orange in Franklin County; Blandford, Holland, Ludlow, Monson, and Montgomery in Hampden County; and Athol, Berlin, Charlton, Hardwick, Leicester, Millville, and Oxford in Worcester County. Altogether, the 51 communities have a combined population of over 230,000 people.
Regional Services The Regional Services Department develops regional approaches to problems shared by Hampshire County municipalities, including securing surplus federal equipment. Regional Services oversees the Hampshire Inspection Program that provides building inspection and zoning enforcement services. The department produces a wage and salary survey of all municipal positions in Hampshire County.
Health Programs The Council continues to be involved in tobacco prevention efforts through the Tobacco Free Network serving both Franklin and Hampshire Counties. Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the Department of Public Health.
As an integral part of the Hampshire County Group Insurance Trust, the Hampshire Council runs a Wellness Initiative.
Other Programs In addition to the various departments, programs, and services, the Councilors attend monthly Full Board Meetings as well as Standing Committee Meetings, including the Executive Committee, Human Services Municipal Advisory Committee, Legislative, Charter & Code Committee, Regional Services Municipal Advisory Committee, Electric Committee, and Finance Committee. Each Committee has oversight of specific departments and programs and continues to look for ways to increase revenue and provide services.
The Executive Committee is responsible for the more routine activities of the Council and its various departments, oversees the carrying out of the policies voted by the Councilors and the duties of the Council Administrator, reviews the proposed budget, acts as the Road Viewing and Hearing Committee, and serves as the Real Estate Tax Appeal Board.
The Human Services Committee is responsible for all health-related programs.
The Legislative, Charter & Code Committee is generally responsible for the Council's interest in all matters primarily concerned with State legislation. The committee is also entrusted with making recommendations to the Full Council for proposed amendments to the Council Charter and to review the Administrative Code.
The Regional Services Committee serves as liaison with the Hampshire County Fire Defense Association, and provides general supervision of the Regional Services and Cooperative Purchasing Departments. The Committee is increasing its exposure and advertising outreach.
The Electricity Committee continues its pursuit of cost-saving energy supply for Hampshire County municipalities, residents, businesses, and non-profits.
- Massachusetts, Commonwealth of (1998). General Laws, Chapter 300.
- Daily Hampshire Gazette. 9 November 2010. Missing or empty
- Appleton, John (1 December 2010). "Hampshire Council of Governments prepares for supplying electricity to residential customers". Springfield Republican.
- Appleton, John (28 June 2011). "Hampshire Council of Governments applies to become default electricity supplier to 22 communities". Springfield Republican. Retrieved 29 June 2011.
- Group Insurance Trust, Hampshire Council. "Wellness Newsletter" (PDF). Retrieved 29 June 2011.
- "Hampshire Council of Governments". Retrieved 29 June 2011.