AUGUSTA, Maine — Most Maine communities have been speaking as one voice on a variety of issues and problems at the state level for 75 years.
When the Great Depression took its toll on Maine communities in 1936, 15 towns, cities and plantations gathered to form the Maine Municipal Association. That volunteer organization has grown to serve 486 municipalities and 256 quasi-municipal entities as associate members, according to Eric Conrad, MMA’s spokesman.
In recognition of its 75th anniversary, the Maine Municipal Association has a special logo, plans for a series of profiles of longtime municipal officials to be published in the Maine Townsman and a “Then and Now” photo contest. Selected photographs will be used on the association’s 2012 calendar. Entries must be received by Friday, June 3.
Longtime municipal officials also will be recognized at MMA’s convention in October, Conrad said Wednesday.
“Although it is MMA’s 75th anniversary, we’re here because of our 486 municipal members, and we really believe in the mission of advocating for, but also providing training and legal advice for, elected officials out there,” Conrad said. That includes town and city managers, clerks, and fire and police chiefs.
The MMA was founded on the basis for advocacy and lobbying at the State House during tough economic times, Conrad said. Finances were tight when the association was formed 75 years ago, and they are still tight, so the collective voice still is needed.
Conrad said 49 of the 50 states have some sort of a municipal association or league of cities. The only state that doesn’t is Hawaii.
MMA members pay membership dues based on population, and those funds provide the operating costs for the association, according to Conrad. In Maine, just six communities, which include small plantations, are not members of the MMA.
Municipal government is “very positive” about its future role in the state, Conrad noted. “Municipal government is the closest to the people; it’s the most efficient, and it’s the most accessible.”