Lowell City Council Meeting: May 30, 2017

Motion Responses

Locating LHS in Hamilton Canal District. Jackie Doherty of Lowell School Committee speaks on this item. Emphasizes the importance of replacing the high school now, regardless of which site is chosen. Urges council not to delay the process. Councilor Leahy thanks his colleagues for indulging his interest in exploring this and appreciates the report which lays out why it’s important to stay the course on the Hamilton Canal District.

Event schedule for High School selection. Manager Murphy expects cost estimates by this Friday, but has a meeting with architects tomorrow to confirm that.

Finance Subcommittee meeting report (Joint meeting with School Committee finance subcommittee) Discussed net school spending. City and school CFOs will continue to meet.

Public Hearings

Loan Order of $11mil for capital improvements pursuant to city’s five year capital plan.

Ordinance to increase sewer use charge. Increase is necessary to pay for $40mil bond for repairs/improvements to system that were required by federal government.

Approve City Operating Budget for FY2018. Councilor Mercier says she went through the entire budget and could only find possible cuts amounting to $1000. She says it’s a tight budget, invites colleagues to ask any questions and also moves that the budget be approved. Mayor Kennedy says he polled the council about just asking questions on particular items rather than going through the budget line by line. Councilor Milinazzo asks about indirect costs for enterprise funds. Conor Baldwin explains that city hall provides administrative services for employees of the three funds (water, sewer, and parking) so the admin charges are assessed to these funds. Councilor Leary asks about school resource officers, that the school department cut the three that were on the school payroll. They will be absorbed by the city payroll. Manager Murphy says that Supt Taylor has not decided whether those three police positions will remain in the schools or be given other duties. Councilor Belanger praises budget, but is concerned that parking enterprise fund is heading towards a deficit. Mayor Murphy says that the parking department is working on a proposal that includes value pricing that is both interesting and proactive. He says he will bring it before the council once the Lowell High decision has been made. Councilor Elliott points out charter school reimbursement as a “budget buster” but commends administration for ongoing commitment to public safety and also wise administrative and financial moves that do not get much attention but which have a very positive effect on the budget. The council goes votes for the budget as submitted by an 8 to 0 vote.

Request to install utility pole on Viola St. A resident of the street objects to the request because at least half of the poles on the street are double poles with no indication the company is going to address this. Councilors vote to delay any action on this. Councilors and Manager Murphy are all critical of National Grid/Verizon for their blatant neglect of this issue throughout the city.

City Council motions (Councilor Samaras absent tonight)

  1. Elliott/C. Leary/C. Samaras – Req. City Council vote to appoint Ad Hoc subcommittee to discuss process of amending City Charter to review and consider adopting a district/at-large council representation form of government and then to make recommendations to the full City Council. Councilor Elliott says that Councilor Samaras would like to speak on this motion and since he is not here, he asks that the motion be delayed until the next regular council meeting (June 13) for action. He also states that there is a lawsuit pending against the city on this issue. He doesn’t want to say anything to jeopardize the city’s position in the lawsuit although his position is stated in the motion. Councilor Leary says it is wise to get some advice from the city solicitor before discussing it, but he thinks there should be some discussion on possibly changing the charter.
  2. Samaras – Req. City Mgr. have proper department restripe the road lanes on Industrial Avenue and at merge of Thorndike Street and Gorham Street.
  3. Milinazzo – Req. City Mgr. update the City Council on the status of restriping Nesmith Street.
  4. Leahy – Req. City Mgr. be prepared for all responses to inquiries regarding Lowell High School Project at the scheduled presentation meeting before the Council. Councilor Leahy says intent of the motion is to be sure that Skanska is prepared to answer any questions that arise during the public meetings. Councilor Belanger asks how many pending motions by councilors there are. Manager Murphy says there are at least twenty but he expects all to be answered by this Friday. He also says that the first part of the presentation next Tuesday will be to address each of the council motions. The next part would be summaries of all of the feasibility studies. Next would be Perkins Eastman’s presentation of all four options. Finally would be an opportunity for councilors to ask any questions.

Suspension of rules to discuss matter not on agenda.

Supt Taylor speaks on major drug bust in region this morning. Over 50 were arrested for distribution of fentanyl in Merrimack Valley and Southern New Hampshire by a joint federal/state task force. Most of the arrests were in Lawrence, however, they will have a big impact in Lowell, hopefully.

Meeting adjourns at 8:33 pm

One Response to Lowell City Council Meeting: May 30, 2017

  1. Carol Troy says:

    The Lady Gaga ROLLING STONE cover you wrote about in 2010 — the McChrystal piece being only 5th in size — has just morphed into a Netflix film with Brad Pitt.
    You must write about it!