By ADAM FRENIER
The head of the Hampshire Council of Governments is calling for unity and help from the state to keep the organization viable.
Belchertown voted Monday to leave the group, and Hadley made a similar move last year. Officials in both towns cite concerns over the council’s financial situation. It has more than $4 million in liabilities, due to benefits owed to retirees.
Executive director Todd Ford said state lawmakers could be key in helping the council out of a jam.
“The fairer solution is to just treat us like other regional entities and either the state take on its proportionate share of those liabilities, or help us create a new revenue stream that would help fund those liabilities,” Ford said.
Both of those proposals would require legislative action. And, Ford added, the council could become stronger if all of Hampshire County came together.
“We’re going to continue to make the pitch to the communities of Hampshire County that we are stronger together,” Ford said. “This county is stronger united. We have historically been divided for various reasons, but we are stronger united. I don’t think anyone could debate that.”
Right now, the county’s two largest communities — Amherst and Northampton — are not members of the council, which coordinates bulk purchasing and energy programs.