Cancelled due to snow [was: Preview: City Council agenda (March 14)]

This week’s Council meeting is cancelled. We can look forward to these agenda items at next week’s meeting.

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

This week: Dropping crime, rezoning. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Streets and Zoning: The Planning Board recommends that the Council proceed with rezoning part of the James Street and South Ludlow Street area, which entails both rezoning manufacturing areas to residential and changing some residential areas zoned for single family homes to less-restricted, more general residential zoning. A couple items that will be sent to the Planning Board, then perhaps back to the Council. Tony Ngueyn of Goldstar Builders Inc. asks that a portion of Benoit St. be removed as an official city street; Stephen Madaus for Agrand Realty LLC wants 241 Greenwood St. rezoned from residential to light manufacturing.
  • Kindness: Bill Coleman has an item asking the Council “to encourage all citizens and visitors to Worcester to commit a random act of kindness in our City.” He has another item asking people to participate in “Worcester’s Spring Cleaning 2017. We want Worcester to be the cleanest City in New England.”
  • Boards and Commissions: Albert M. Toney, Jr. will be appointed a Constable. The Council will vote on the appointment of Benjamin Roberts to the Advisory Committee on the Status of Women and Michael Murphy to the Community Development Advisory Committee.
  • Economic Development Report: Mostly progress on ongoing projects. The Manager notes that a mild winter has meant construction projects have experienced few delays.
  • #Worcester100: There is an ongoing initiative (complete with hashtag) to have 100 days of events on the Common in 2017. The Manager has a report on this. I’m not sure how many events there are, maybe way more than 100.
  • Water and Sewer Rates: The Public Works Department recommends that water and sewer rates are raised approx. $13.46 for a typical Worcester home. This is a smaller increase than in other recent years.
  • Drought Fading: Our reservoirs are at 83%, so we are moving from a Stage 2 drought back to a Stage 1 “drought alert.” We still have less water in the reservoirs than in most years.
  • Crime Stats: The Police Chief has a report noting decreases in violent and property crimes in 2016 vs 2015 and over the past 5 years in general. There are a couple areas where crime was up a bit last year—aggravated assaults and vehicle thefts. Traffic accidents were up as well. Arrests were down more than 4% due mainly to the Police Department’s “Crisis Intervention Team.” The CIT deals with incidents where it makes more sense to call a social worker rather than arrest the perpetrator. As you might expect, a small number of people dealing with addiction, mental illness, or general life chaos make up a disproportionate amount of Worcester arrests. Doing volunteer work I’ve had some contact with the Crisis Intervention Team, and have a really positive impression of their work.
  • Lead Prevention: Among many finance items—we’re getting a $140,000.00 grant from the state Department of Public Healthfor childhood lead poisoning prevention.
  • Long-Term Financial Plan: The Manager would like to make 7 changes to our long-term financial plan, which was written in 2006. The changes: 1.Create a new High School Construction Stabilization Fund for new South and Doherty high schools; 2. Base City’s borrowing amount on its ability to pay; 3. Increase reserve level targets to 10 percent of budget; 4. Create an irrevocable OPEB trust and a new city commission to manage it. Require annual report on the city’s liability; 5. Memorialize fixed cost budgetary assumptions based on historic trends; 6. Apply excess New Growth to create tax relief; 7. Enhance financial reporting and transparency.

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