Public hearing on establishment of the “minimum residential factor.” This is the percentage of the tax levy that is allocated to residential property. Manager Murphy begins by reviewing the financial accomplishments of this council. Foremost is its support of education; the city exceeds the amount required for “net school spending.” He also explains that by using greater than expected new growth, the city has been able to minimize the increase. He says the average home has increased in value by $12,000 which means the average tax bill for a single family home will increase by $119. Some tax increases will be higher; some will be lower, based on varying values. He points out that properties representing 25% of overall city real estate value do not pay any real estate taxes. He closes by saying that the Lowell increase is one of the lowest in the region. No member of the public speaks, either for or against. No debate from the council. Passes unanimously.
Comcast public hearing on new vault on Technology Drive. Person from Comcast says it is to provide service to 59 Technology Drive. No discussion. Referred to wire inspector.
Councilor Samaras motion for report on placement of parking meters in Cupples Square business district. Some residents of that neighborhood asked questions of Councilor Samaras so he filed this motion. Most of the speakers are Cupples Square business owners who say parking meters will cost them business. Councilor Samaras explains that sometimes when people understand the reasoning behind doing something like installing parking meters they might be more accepting of them, so he asks for a report that explains the rational. Councilor Belanger says Cupples Square is a very successful business district and we should not do anything to disrupt it. We should look at this very closely. He distinguishes Cupples Square from downtown (where he has supported greater parking enforcement). Other councilors comments. Some support one hour free parking, others prefer no meters in public square. All emphasize that all city parking lots should be the same; either with meters or not.
Councilor Mercier requests a report on status of former Marchand Oil Company on Baldwin Street. Former Mayor Caulfield is registered to speak. Presents a petition signed by 29 neighbors. They are all very critical of the work that’s going on at the business which is a former gas station. He says it is unclear what is being done there now other than it is cluttered with dilapidated construction vehicles. Council votes to have manager provide a report.
Report on police purchase of Tasers which will start being issued to officers of the Lowell Police Department. The money comes from the police training funds and funds seized from criminal activity.
Mayor’s Opiate Task Force had its initial meeting tonight. Will provide minutes at next council meeting. “Good discussion, police and schools are already doing much.”
Councilors Belanger and Mercier motion to find ways to install sidewalk on Stedman Street. Arose from an open house at HabitOpco drug treatment center on Stedman Street. Councilors Mercier explains that the city’s requirement that patients be shuttled from Westford Street to the clinic was not a safety measure but just an obstacle intended to keep the clinic from locating there. It does important work and the city should work with HabitOpco, especially by installing a sidewalk for pedestrian safety. Councilor Belanger says he has investigated and found that no problems have been attributed to the clinic. He concurs with the need for the sidewalk.
Councilors Samaras and Belanger ask city to send a letter of thanks to John Power for once again decorating the smokestack of the Wannalancit Mills as a Christmas tree.
Mayor Elliott requests city manager report to council on possibility of an ordinance to ban the carrying of replica guns as a public safety measure.
Meeting adjourns at 9:05 pm.