Monthly Archives: January 2015

Preview: City Council agenda (January 20)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday, January 20. The agenda is here. I’ve been on the road the last couple weeks. Did I miss anything?

This week: a slim agenda.

  • Update on Council rule changes: Nothing will be decided yet. Since there is so much detail, we have a separate post on this.
  • Boards and Commissions: Aaron Richman reappointed to the Human Rights Commission; Jake Messier reappointed to the Trust Funds Commission; Matthew Yalouris appointed to the Community Development Advisory Committee; Douglas Hannam reappointed to the Citizen’s Advisory Council.
  • Tax Breaks: We’re giving companies tax breaks relating to a rest home project at 102 Randolf Road. There have been delays; the Council will be voting to change the agreement to give them 2 more years to get things done.
  • Snow Parking: At the Council’s request, when the parking ban is declared due to snow, “the Pearl Elm, Federal Plaza, Union Station, and Major Taylor Garages will each be available for overnight parking. The current overnight rate from 5:00 pm-5:00 am is currently Six Dollars $6.00 at each of these locations.”
  • New Nelson Place School: The Council will be voting approval of the financing of a new $57 million Nelson Place School to open near Indian Lake in 2017.
  • 2015 Election Schedule: The new schedule is up. Want to run for City Council or School Committee? Pick up your nomination papers on March 3. Return your sheets of signatures by May 19 at 5:00pm.
  • New Landfill for Basin Cleanings and Street Sweepings: In recent years, the City has put “basin cleanings and street sweepings” into the Greenwood Street Landfill at no cost. Now that it’s full, the Council will be voting to enter a 5 year contract with the Southbridge Recycling and Disposal Park to dump this stuff there for $11/ton.
  • Million-Dollar Properties: As part of their effort to figure out how to tax non-profits, the Council has asked for a list of the 1,066 properties in the city worth more than a million dollars. It’s an interesting list. There are 9 worth more than a hundred million dollars. UMass and Holy Cross are at the top of that list.
  • Zoning Changes: One change that I don’t understand but like the sound of is the establishment of a Commercial Corridors Overlay District in the area shown below, where things will be tweaked “to encourage compact, mixed-use, pedestrian-friendly redevelopment of the City’s downtown and urban corridors.”

overlay

Worcester City Council rules changes

Here’s a PDF outlining proposed changes in how the City Council will operate.

A lot of this is just cleaning things up. The discussion of these changes has been happening for many months now, and will go on for some time to come.

Here are a few things I noticed that go beyond cleanup.

  • When the Council takes up an issue that’s not on the meeting agenda, they will first have to explain the emergency situation that’s forcing them to do so.
  • Limits total public comment at a Council meeting to 30 minutes. (The Council can always suspend this rule and let people talk longer.)
  • Reiterates that people at meetings should be silent, and that if you’re still talking after being warned, the Council can call the cops on you.
  • Formalizes that the Mayor can temporarily appoint Councilors to vacant committee spots. This is how it’s already done.
  • Currently, committees are supposed to make a decision on items within 60 days, then report back to the Council. There are a lot of old items drifting around. The new rule says that after 60 days, if the committee hasn’t dealt with the item, it goes back to the Council. Also, the Clerk will give the committees lists of their “dormant items,” and every 2 years there will be a big housecleaning—either a Councilor has to ask to keep an item alive, or it will automatically be “filed.” (That is, go away.
  • The new rules several times call speaking before the Council a “privilege,” whereas the old rules don’t. Not sure if this means anything.

Rules geeks, feel free to post a comment with your impressions.