We are not your typical governmental entity.
We solve problems.
We save taxpayer money.
We use regional cooperation to solve shared local challenges and we do so in a financially sustainable manner.
We are guided by these core principles:
We are financially self-reliant;
We are local and keep our investments local;
We are working to be environmentally sustainable;
We are creative, innovative, and action-oriented.
A one page summary of our programs and services can be found here.
What is it?
The Hampshire Council of Governments is a consortium of towns solving local problems by acting regionally. In 1998 the residents of Hampshire County voted to charter the Hampshire Council of Governments as the successor to Hampshire County. We are a body politic and corporate; our charter ratified by the voters and by Massachusetts General Law 34B, §20(b). Our offices are still in the same place they have been since 1662, at the corner of King and Main in downtown Northampton.
Are services available to non- members?
Most of our services are available to all municipalities, schools, non profits, businesses and individuals in Western MA.
Who runs the Council?
Voters in member towns elect representatives to the Council at their municipal elections. Councilors set priorities, adopt a budget, oversee existing programs, and identify problems shared by their towns that may be amenable to a regional solution. They serve as trustees for the Hampshire County Group Insurance Trust. They provide a quasi-judicial function in tax abatement hearings and road petition hearings. Citizens are invited to contact their elected representative to the Council with suggestions on current or proposed programs.
The Councilors appoint an Executive Director, who serves as the CEO for the organization. A dedicated team of professional staff brings a wealth of professional training and experience to the day-to-day operation of Council programs and services.
How is it paid for?
The Council receives no state aid. The Council receives no tax revenue. The Council cannot bond or borrow. The $5million annual budget is supported solely by assessed membership dues, program fees, grants, and earned revenues.
How is the Council organized?
Elected Councilors govern the Council of Governments. At their municipal election, each of the member towns elects one or more representatives. Councilors serve two-year terms. Votes on the Council are weighted, according to the town population. The Councilors elect from among themselves a Moderator and a five member Executive Committee consisting of a Chair, Vice-Chair, and three other members. The Chair appoints committees and committee chairs.
How can towns join or leave the Council?
A vote of either the Town Meeting or City Council or by ballot at town elections is required. In addition, a vote of current members must approve new members. The specific procedures required are set forth in the Charter and in the Administrative Code.