Preview: City Council agenda (January 24)

The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday at 7pm. The agenda is here.

This week: rezoning, police, waterfront property taxes. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here. If you want to read about the agenda in more detail, here’s the writeup in the T&G.

  • Boards and Commissions: Robert Bolivar is being appointed a Constable; Courtney Ross Escobar is being appointed to the Historical Commission. The City Council will vote whether to reappoint Talena Ngo to the Citizens Advisory Council; Christian Escobar to the Conservation Commission; and Bill Eddy to the Worcester Housing Authority.
  • A Little Rezoning: The City Manager would like the council to approve rezoning some land zoned for manufacturing to residential in the James Street and South Ludlow Street area. (Map below.)
  • Revised Tax Breaks: A couple years ago, to encourage someone to build 60 apartments at 100 Wall Street (the old El Morocco), the city offered a $1.2 million tax break in the form of a “tax increment exemption.” It’s taking them longer than originally planned, and the Manager would like the Council to amend the offer to reflect this delay. Rather than construction beginning this summer, it will now begin the summer of 2019.
  • Still a Drought: Has all the rain helped our drought situation? A little bit; this week, we’re moving from Stage Three back down to a Stage Two drought.
  • More Police: The Manager and the Police Chief would like to add 7 more police officers to the force. If I am reading the memo right there are currently 344 officers, with 23 positions vacant. Filling the vacancies and the new positions would have us at 374 officers. They would also like an additional 5 of those positions to become supervisory roles: sergeants, captains, lieutenants.
  • Waterfront Property Assessments: Residents with waterfront property are unhappy they have seen unexpected increases in their property values this year, and thus increases in their property taxes. The City Assessor has a report to the Council explaining that these increases reflect higher selling prices for such property of late, rather than a new formula for calculating the values. The local taxpayer activist group AWARE is critical of this report, pointing out, for example, that property on gross or boring bodies of water still saw an increase comparable to property on nice ponds etc.
  • A Market at the Aud?: Councilor Rosen proposes that we turn the long-vacant Worcester Memorial Auditorium in Lincoln Square into an “indoor retail and farmers marketplace” while we continue to wait for a motivated developer to do something else with the building.

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