May 1st Information & Resources Update
MAPC Webinars: Virtual Meeting Best Practices, How Municipalities Can Support Small Businesses

The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) will host a series of webinars aimed at assisting local officials in responding to COVID-19:

Virtual Meeting Best Practices: MAPC will offer a webinar for local officials focused on best practices for virtual/ remote meetings. MAPC Community Engagement staff will discuss facilitation practices and give advice for running digital forums, managing technology, coordinating participation, addressing accessibility and equity concerns, and achieving meeting goals.

The webinar will take place on Wednesday, May 6th at 2:00 PM. Click here to register for the Virtual Meetings Best Practices webinar.

How Municipalities Can Support Small Businesses: MAPC will host a webinar focused on how municipal governments can best support small businesses. Topics will include municipal small business support plans (both short and long term), and municipal unemployment response plans, in coordination with MassHire career centers and other community partners.

This webinar will take place on Wednesday, May 13th at 2:00 PM via Zoom. Click here to register for the Supporting Small Businesses webinar.
Special Message to the Business Community from Senate President Karen Spilka

The Senate President has recorded a special message for MetroWest area business associations and their members. From the Senate President:

"Every spring, I see members of our business community at meetings, events, and forums, and I enjoy learning about their experiences and exchanging ideas. Because we cannot see each other in person during this period of critical social distancing, I created this video and invite you to share it with your members and others whom you serve."

You can watch the video, which includes updates on the Legislature's activities since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, online at this link
Tax-Exempt Payments for the Benefit of Employees

The COVID-19 pandemic having been declared a federal disaster makes it possible for an employer to make tax-free payments to or for the benefit of an employee, which under non-emergency circumstances would be subject to income taxes.

These can include funds used to reimburse or pay reasonable and necessary personal, family, living, or funeral expenses incurred as a result of a qualified disaster (such as COVID-19).

Bowditch & Dewey has published a summary of the provision, available online here.
Proposed EPA Modifications to NPDES MS4 General Permits for Massachusetts Communities

The EPA is proposing targeted modifications to the 2016 Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) general permit for Massachusetts communities. The proposed modifications are designed to "provide municipalities with more tools and flexibilities for permit implementation while also ensuring that water quality is protected and the goals of the Clean Water Act (CWA) are met."

The proposed modifications were developed through a multi-year mediation between EPA and the parties who challenged the underlying 2016 permit. The proposed modifications are identical to those attached to the litigation settlement agreement announced for public comment in December 2019 and executed in April 2020 between EPA and the permit litigants, which included municipalities, environmental groups, and other affected stakeholders.

The EPA will accept written public comments on the proposed permit modifications until June 8, 2020.  Click here for information on submitting written comments.

MS4 permits are NPDES permits that authorize certain discharges of municipal stormwater to surface waters. EPA issued the Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit in 2016. After EPA finalized the 2016 MS4 Permit, various parties filed petitions for review; these petitions were consolidated with a challenge to EPA’s 2017 New Hampshire Small MS4 General Permit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Once consolidated, the cases were entered into the DC Circuit’s mediation program; after more than two years of discussions, the parties negotiated a proposed settlement agreement which was announced December 27, 2019, issued for public comment, and executed by all parties on April 15, 2020. Under the terms of that settlement agreement, EPA committed to proposing certain modifications to this Small MS4 General Permit.

Informational Webinars: EPA will hold two informational webinars on the proposed permit modifications to the Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit:
Join the 495/MetroWest Partnership &
the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board for our
MetroWest Weekly Employer Town Hall Series

Area employers are invited to join the 495/MetroWest Partnership and the MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board for weekly discussions surrounding critical issues business are facing right now. We will answer questions about the various resources that are available to companies and their workers during these difficult times.

Topics to be addressed include:
  • Financial resources available to all businesses that can help support businesses negatively affected by this pandemic
  • The programs and organizations available help weather this crisis such as Rapid Response, WorkShare, and Federal stimulus programs
  • The Department of Unemployment Assistance and staffing options
  • Updates on pending legislation aimed at addressing the impact on the economy and business community

These discussions are open to any interested party, and will be held each Wednesday afternoon, starting May 6th, at 1:00 PM via Zoom. Click here to sign up!

  • Jason Palitsch, Executive Director, the 495/Metro West Partnership
  • Greg Bunn, Executive Director, MassHire Metro South/West Workforce Board
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out if the Partnership can be of any assistance to you. Partnership operations are continuing throughout the duration of the current public health crisis, with our staff working remotely. You may reach me directly via email at .

Jason Palitsch
Executive Director
The 495/MetroWest Partnership