City Council Preview: April 2, 2018

Mimi Parseghian previews tomorrow’s Lowell City Council meeting. This Tuesday’s City Council meeting should be an historical one.

This week’s City Council meeting agenda is short, only one motion response from the Administration and three City Council motions.

This will be a transition week as the new City Manager’s contract has not been finalized.  As Dick mentioned in his Sunday post, it was surprising to see the word “contract” used in the agenda.

There is only one motion response. It was a verbal request made by City Council J. Leahy Request the City Manager provide a cost benefit analysis regarding hiring additional staff in the Engineering Department to increase Chapter 90 apportionment from the Commonwealth (Follow-up to report of 3/5/18, “Street Acceptance Schedule and Ch. 90 Implications”).

The response, prepared by CFO Conor Baldwin indicates that the “Finance Department has conducted a cost/ benefit analysis to determine the most effective use of city resources towards road paving and securing Chapter 90 apportionments. The recommendation is for “include appropriating funds in the Engineering budget for professional services to be used in assisting the staff engineers with some surveying work required to accept streets. This hybrid approach would afford the existing staff to more effectively utilize their time and would impact the budget much less.”

Although the agenda is not extensive, there are a couple of items of great interest. One of those items is the new parking rate and parking fines.

The City Council will vote to approve an ordinance on adjusted parking rates. The 11-page report provides a detailed listing of the parking rates and fines that will be in place.  In his memo to the City Council, former City Manager Kevin Murphy wrote:

“The revised Ordinance achieves a delicate balance of raising the much needed revenue without overly burdening the city’s valued customers. The current proposal maintains all existing discounts for groups like downtown residents and seniors. The previous proposal increased the rates by 10-15% annually, while the current proposal ties the parking rates to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). This rate increase is critical in order to fund the loan order for the new garage as well as repair and maintaining the conditions at the current garages.” CPI last year was 2.2%.

The report prepared by the Administration reminds us that “this rate increase is critical in tandem with a loan order for the garage construction. This largescale capital project will result in debt service payments of approximately $2.1 million annually for the next thirty years, once permanently financed. The true purpose of enterprise fund accounting is such that the users pay for the costs of the service in a way that is proportional to their usage.”

Another vote the City Council will take is to transfer $156,435 for purchase and installation of equipment needed to meet intended purchase of mobile production van.  As the prepared document explains the revenue the City receives through “the Cable Franchise Fee are deposited into a separate account that cannot be expended without an Appropriation recommended by the City Manager and approved by the City Council. These appropriations shall only be used for cable related purposes.

“The funds will be utilized to complete a project that began in 2015 when the City purchased a large, special purpose van. The van is intended to be used as completely outfitted mobile production studio as a part of the curriculum of the Colleen Creegan Media Studio Program at Lowell High School.”

The mobile studio will not only be used for the curriculum at Lowell High School but also for broadcasting community events throughout the City.

Included in this week’s informational packet, the past City Manager announced “that the selection committee assembled to review RFP # 18-71, soliciting proposals for a qualified management company to manage the Lowell Memorial Auditorium, has recommended a new vendor, called Lowell Management Group (“LMG”) for award.”  The City Manager’s office will begin to negotiate a management contract with the vendor.

MOTIONS:

City Councilor V. Nuon — Request City Manager provide a report regarding condition of fire stations in the City.

City Councilor V. Nuon — Request City Manager provide list of names and terms of service for City Boards and Commissions.

City Councilor J. Leahy Request City Manager provide update regarding Downtown Spring Cleaning.

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