City Council Preview: March 25, 2019

Mimi Parseghian previews this week’s Lowell City Council meeting:

This week’s City Council meeting agenda is dominated by Administration information, including Motion Responses, Informational Reports and Votes.

However, the first agenda item of major interest is a report from the City Auditor, Bryan Perry, in response to a motion on January 15, 2019 by Mayor Bill Samaras.  The motion “Requested the City Auditor provide a written explanation and report for noncompliance issues found during the recent school department audit as pertaining to the City’s rules, regulations, and ordinances.”

The Auditor’s report is 7 pages long, covering 7 different topics.  The response also included in the response are copies of e-mail threads between the City Auditor’s office and staff of the School System Administration and two reports from the CPA firm Powers and Sullivan; “Agreed Upon Procedures – Morey School Student” and “Agreed Upon Procedures – Lowell High School Student Activity Fun.”

MOTION RESPONSES

Maxfield Bench in Shedd Park: Motion (9/25/2018) by Councilor R. Mercier “Request City Manager have proper department install commemorative inscribed bench at Shedd Park in memory of Craig Maxfield.”  DPW Commissioner, Ralph Snow, replied that delivery of the bench is expected in mid to late May. “Installation and a dedication ceremony will be scheduled and coordinated with the Maxfield family.” Mr. Maxfield was an avid athlete who passed away last year at the age of 23.

Downtown Economic Development: Motion (12/11/2018) by Councilor J. Leahy “Request City Manager instruct the Department of Planning and Development to study downtown this winter and come up with recommendations to attract business and consumers.”

The three-page response submitted by Diana Tradd, Assistant City Manager/DPD Director is informative.  In addition to the new 6 establishments that have opened up, there are 7 other businesses currently receiving assistance from the Economic Development Office that plan to occupy ground floor space. Most are new and a couple are expanding their space.

Four Way Stop Monadnock and Raynor: Motion (3/5/201) by Councilor J. Leahy “Request City Manager have Transportation Engineer review the intersection at Monadnock Avenue and Raynor Street for possible 4-way stop sign.

This three-page response, also submitted by Diana Tradd, stated that a 4-way stop sign is not warranted.  It provided the guideline utilized to reach that conclusion and also provided alternative suggestions. That corner is located in the Highlands; Monadnock runs between Westford St. and Princeton Blvd.

Westford and Foster Traffic Study: Motion (1/15/2019) by Councilor D. Conway “Request City Manager have proper department prepare a traffic study regarding the intersection of Foster and Westford Streets.”

The response prepared by the Traffic Engineer Natasha Vance suggests that based on the number of accidents at the corner, the City installs a 4-way stop sign and “install three (3) additional, ‘No Parking Here to Corner’ signs to help with visibility.”

Municipal Broadband Network: Motion (1/29/2019) by Councilor K. Cirillo “Request City Manager have proper department provide the City Council a plan to design and build Lowell’s own municipal broadband network to provide our residents fast and affordable internet service.”

The three-page response submitted by CFO Conor Baldwin states in part that “On numerous occasions, it has been suggested that the city establish its own municipal broadband network to provide residents fast and affordable internet. This doesn’t mean other options to expand ISP services within the city are not available. The city has issued a formal request for proposal (“RFP”) seeking proposals from qualified vendors to build and operate a community-wide high speed and well-designed fiber-to-the-premises (“FTTP”) network over an open access fiber network for residents, business, government, and community anchor institutions located within the—all at no cost to the taxpayers.”

INFORMATIONAL REPORTS

Settlement of the First Relocation Claim for 75 Arcand Drive: The City has settled with a tenant of 75 Arcand Drive who had “elected to discontinue his business and, as part of a settlement, was compensated $129,820 for loss of personal property.”

Update on Annual Municipal Lien Auction Sale: According to the information memorandum, letters were mailed to delinquent properties on March 1st informing delinquent property owners of the upcoming lien auction sales.  As a result of that letter, approximately $368,139 in taxes has been collected. “Once this year’s auction is complete, the Law Department will submit a report summarizing those collections since 2012” when the program began.

FY2020 Budget and NSS Compliance: City Manager Eileen Donoghue wrote “As we near the end of the third quarter of the fiscal year, I write to update the City Council of the ongoing preparations for the FY2020 budget…The city budget process is well underway. I have directed department heads to reduce growth in spending by managing positions and identifying other cost reductions so that fixed cost increases can be absorbed without an adverse effect on the total budget. All non-personnel operating expenses increasing due to contractual terms must be absorbed within the budget without being knowingly under-budgeted.”

New WM Contract: James Troup, DPW Deputy Director Administration and Finance, provided the 2-page memo on the new Waste Management Contract. “January 1, 2019 marked the beginning of a new contract with Waste Management. The outcome of the negotiation resulted in the agreement of a new 6 year contract that will terminate on December 31, 2024…The total cost of the new contract over six years shall not exceed $28.5M…As previously mentioned, recycling contamination is an industry-wide problem. All cities and towns are experiencing increased costs associated with the processing of contaminated recycling materials. These costs have been factored into our contract at a baseline of 10%. Despite our efforts, the City’s contamination rate neared 40% and cost the City $75,000 in the last six months of 2018.

COUNCIL MOTIONS

Councilor D. Conway: “Request City Manager meet with appropriate Departments to develop a monetary employee incentive program; which objective is to achieve efficiencies in city operations by giving employees an opportunity for incentives and to contribute their ideas that could result in measurable costs savings, increased efficiencies and increased revenues for the City.”

Councilor K. Cirillo “Request City Manager direct the proper Department install two additional signs indicating ‘Area Under Video Surveillance’ on poles at the Reservoir on Richards St. at Monroe St. and across from 74 Richards St.”

Councilor K. Cirillo “Request City Manager provide City Council with City-Wide Spring Cleaning Schedule.

Councilor K. Cirillo “Request City Manager provide City Council with City-Wide Spring Tree Planting Schedule.”

Councilor K. Cirillo “Request City Manager Re-Establish the Collective of City Officials Meeting with the Neighborhood Presidents to walk the neighborhoods to identify areas that need restoration to revive the neighborhoods integrity and vitality.”

Councilor R. Mercier “Request City Manager place Madonna Circle on the list of streets needed to be addressed due to truck turnaround traffic caused by the company repairing the Broadway Street Bridge.”

Councilor J. Leahy “Request City Manager update City Council regarding reorganization of the DPW and the Parks Department.

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