City Council Preview: September 10, 2018

Mimi Parseghian previews tomorrow night’s Lowell City Council meeting:

With the end of summer, the City Council will pretty soon return to its weekly meeting schedule. This week agenda has a number of reports as well as replies to a number of motions.

The City Auditor, Bryan Barry, has a 36-page Year to Date Budget Report, ending June 2018. The report list every line item in the Budget with information for each of these headings: Original Appropriation, Transfer/Adjustments, Revised Budget, Year to Date Expended, Encumbrances (funds put aside for purchase requisition), Available Budget and Percent Used.

Motion Responses

Lord Overpass:  The Department of Planning and Development (DPD) will make a presentation to the Council on Tuesday.  The motion response outlines the actions, decisions and activities as they pertained to the redesign of the Lord Overpass. The presentation and report is in response to a motion (8/14/18) from City Councilor Rita Mercier requesting the “City Manager have DPD provide a detailed presentation, justifying how filling in the Lord Overpass will be an improvement to the traffic congestion problems in the area.”

Catch Basin Cleanouts: Motion (8/28/18) City Councilor Vesna Nuon “Request City Manager have  proper department clean two or three catch basins on Suffolk Street closest to Market Street intersection.” The response indicates that “the catch basins indicated in the motion have been inspected and cleaned of accumulated debris on August 27th.  The motion was posted on August 24th and the Lowell Water Utility Department took immediate action.

Paving Pemberton Street: Motion (8/28/18) by City Councilor R. Elliott “Request City Manager provide an update regarding paving on Pemberton Street.”  The response by Christine Clancy, P.E., City Engineer and Jim Donison, P.E., DPW Commissioner indicates that DPW/Engineering has investigated this request. Pemberton Street is scheduled to be paved this fall 2018.”

Solar Trees in the City: Motion by City Councilor R. Elliott “Request City Manager explore the possibility of installing Solar Trees in the City.”  The response prepared by Katherine Moss, Energy Manager states the City “continues to explore different ways to utilize solar resources to benefit the City….a solar tree is a type of ground-mounted solar system that has the appearance of a tree due to the orientation of the solar panels.”  The memo lists the advantages and disadvantages of such a system.  She concludes  by stating “Solar trees can offer an interesting mechanism for increasing solar energy production within the City. However, there may be a cost premium for this integration. If it is the desire of the City Council to explore the possibility further, the Department of Planning and Development could create a Request for Information to explore additional possibilities of integrating these structures into our renewable energy portfolio.”

Informational Reports

FY 2018 Year End Report: In addition to the 30 page financial report prepared by the CFO, Conor Baldwin, there is a cover memo from the City Manager Eileen Donoghue in which she explains measures taken by the Administration to  continue monitoring and restraining all expenditures in fiscal year (FY2019).”

OPEB Report:  The 15-page report’s cover memo prepared by City Manager Eileen Donoghue states “The City of Lowell recently received an actuarial update to its liability for other postemployment (“OPEB”) benefits. These are benefits (other than pensions) that U.S. state and local governments provide to their retired employees. These benefits principally involve health care benefits, but also may include life insurance, disability, legal and other services. As of June 30, 2018, the city’s total liability is $618.8 million (my emphasis). According to rules established by the accounting standards bureau (GASB), this liability must be reported by governments on their balance sheet.”

On-going Recycling Efforts: The memo submitted by City Manager Eileen Donoghue stated “In recent weeks our solid waste and recycling division, in conjunction with the City Manager’s Office and the Law Department, has been reviewing and identifying changes to our current enforcement action with respect to recycling…Any of these changes would require amending the Ordinance and current Fee Structure. Accordingly, we are looking for direction from the Council as to these and other issues either through further study at subcommittee level or via discussion with the Council as a whole.”


Councilor R. Mercier Request City Manager have proper department explore feasibility of making Suttle Street/Avenue one-way at the discretion of the neighborhood.

Councilor R. Mercier Request City Manager have proper department install (2) 15 minute parking signs in front of the Olympia Restaurant at 453 Market Street.

Councilor K. Cirillo Request City Manager  contact the MBTA regarding a timeline of when they will be clearing the debris that was left by the homeless camp located near the railroad tracks, behind 50 Waugh Street.

Councilor K. Cirillo Request City Manager  have the proper department provide the City Council with an update as to the issuance of the paperwork from FEMA that the City will provide to the residents who will no longer be in the flood zone, so that they may send the paperwork to their insurance companies.

Councilor K. Cirillo Request City Council become a partner city with the city of Yorkville, Illinois and 187 other cities in their proclamation project in support of national suicide awareness, in which a member of the Lowell City Council will read the proclamation of prevention and awareness during one of The City Council meetings in the month of September.

Councilor E. Kennedy  Request City Manager  invite representatives of the Lowell Spinners to an Economic Development Sub-Committee to discuss possible infrastructure improvements and the prospect of the team’s affiliation with the Boston Red Sox until the year 2022.

Councilor E. Kennedy  Request City Manager review trash contract and discounts for seniors relative to the size of their trash barrels.

Councilor Elliott – req. finance sc meet with school committee to discuss budget issues.