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Preview: City Council agenda (March 28)

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

This week: Marijuana, hate groups, tax breaks, recycling, soccer fields, refugees, Airbnb. So much stuff. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Marijuana Ban: The first item of business will be a proposal from Councilor Lukes to figure out if we can ban non-medical marijuana businesses in the city, as Westborough has recently done.
  • Hate Groups: Idella Hazard has a citizen petition asking “the City to respectfully ask all city employees withdraw membership from any and all hate groups.” I don’t know what this is about.
  • Delaying Notre Dame Demolition: The vacant Notre Dame church, across the street from City Hall and adjacent to the CitySquare development, had an official one-year demolition delay enacted last year, a delay which will expire April 15. Deborah Packard, Preservation Worcester, and the Re-Imagine Notre Dame Committee have a petition asking the Council to urge the owners of the building to continue to delay demolition until someone can find someone who’ll put the building to use and not demolish it.
  • Boards and Commissions: Scott Cashman, Nicholas Chacharone and John Lauring have been reappointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission. The Council needs to vote on reappointing Nancy Garr-Colzie and Paul Keister to the Commission on Disability, Vincent Pedone to the Worcester Redevelopment Authority, and Gerardo Schiano and Paul Smith to the Citizens Advisory Council.
  • Tax Breaks for Development: The City Manager would like the Council to approve a 20-year, $986,000 tax break for a development at the South Worcester Industrial Park. T&G article.
  • 94 Southgate Street: The city is buying this property adjacent to Canterbury Street School for $8000 and forgiveness of $1000 in back taxes, and turning the property into a playground.
  • Recycling: The Commissioner of Public Works has a report outlining possible improvements to our recycling system. Currently we have these bins which are both too small and have no lids, so stuff blows around the streets. Councilor Rosen has lately been very vocal on this issue. We had a pilot program of those 2-wheeled bins in 2010, and clear bags in 2015. This report really clearly outlines the tradeoffs and is worth a read. I’ve lived in cities with all sorts of recycling containers, and clear bags seem like the best choice to me. I am curious to hear your thoughts. T&G article.
  • Street Sweeping: The city will start sweeping main streets March 27, and residential streets April 3. It’ll take about 3 months to get around to all the residential streets. You should be able to find a schedule here.
  • Rectangular Fields: The city now has a Master Plan Initiative for Rectangular Shaped Sports Fields, aka non-baseball fields. The upshot: we should figure a way to have more of these.
  • Resettlement City: The Council asked the Manager for a report on what legislation created the category of “resettlement cities,” who’s responsible for the costs of being a resettlement city, what the impact has been of Worcester being a resettlement city, and how many refugees we’ve had resettled here because we are a resettlement city. The City Solicitor’s response is basically “WTF are you talking about?” and forwarding a photocopy of a State Department Fact Sheet on refugees. According to his response, there is no such category as “resettlement city,” therefore Worcester is not one, therefore none of this request makes any sense.
  • Airbnb Crackdown: The City Solicitor has a report responding to questions from the Council on what laws might apply to Airbnbs in the city. Are Airbnbs subject to the hotel/motel room occupancy tax? No, though the state legislature is considering this. What about Architectural Access Board accessibility requirements? Probably they don’t need to make changes, but any modifications would need to meet these requirements. What laws might currently apply to Airbnb situations? There’s an ordinance about resident families renting out rooms, but the Solicitor notes it’s really hard for the city to keep track of something like that.
  • Psychiatric Capacity: The Council asked for a report on the impact of UMass closing 13 psychiatric beds. Turns out St. Vincent’s is adding 7 beds next year, and UMass is currently working on a 120-bed facility, so these 13 bed won’t be such a big deal.

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.

Worcester schools meetings this week

Cross-posted from Tracy’s blog.

The Worcester School Committee meets on Thursday, March 16; you can find the agenda here.

The report of the superintendent this week is on drinking water quality (as an aside: that’s been uploaded as the actual PDF, which I haven’t seen happen on a school committee backup). The EAW is rallying ahead of Thursday’s meeting for healthy schools, something which began with the PCB issue and has now expanded to air and water quality. Note that the report on Thursday is Worcester’s part of the larger statewide testing in schools of water for lead and copper, as this is well beyond being a Worcester issue.

(I’ve been intending to do a larger facilities post at some point; I hope to get to that this week.)

There are a number of recognitions.

There are subcommittee reports from TLSS and from Governance. Note that TLSS apparently discussed the Burncoat academy (TM), in the only place I’ve been able to find that actually describes admission requirements–at least an advanced/proficient on 5th grade testing–and its “enriched” course of study. It is procedurally fascinating/problematic that this meeting took place after both the announcement and the first parent meeting; both parent meetings are taking place prior to any action by the full school committee. Also, the request to approve those courses appeared on the school committee agenda without detail prior to any discussion as to where they were going. 

In Governance, after a several years abeyance, it appears as though the subcommittee is doing a policy review!

The Administration is responding to a request for an update on dual enrollment.

They are also responding to a request regarding a Main South soccer team (no backup to link to).

There is a request that the committee accept a STARS residency grant for Elm Park ($4400 for Asian myths and storytelling).

There is a request that the committee accept a$37,292 Mass Commended Schools grant, which is going to the former Level 4 schools to share best practices during summer professional development.
There is a request that the committee accept a donation to Tatnuck Magnet.

There is a request that the committee accept a donation to Lakeview.

Miss Biancheria is requesting an update on the career and technical education grant; an update on summer school; and the enrollment report which the committee received at their January 19 meeting.
While it is not a report of the superintendent, Superintendent Binienda is also sharing her (draft until approved by the committee) goals (which are…vague?). Paraphrased:

  • professional practice goal: to complete the first year of superintendent training
  • student learning goal: by September, to provide intervention for 3rd, 6th, and 10th graders at high risk and not meeting test scores
  • 1 on instructional leadership: to create and sustain excellent instruction through 1) continually evaluating data; 2) adding AP capstone and continuing SAT, PSAT, and college application day; 3) enhancing current literary initiatives
  • 2 on management and operations: a supportive, safe, orderly learning environment through 1) a chronic absenteeism plan; 2) all teachers on the state evaluation system; 3) “implement and monitor strategies to ensure a safe, welcoming learning environment”
  • 3 on family and community engagement: “engage responsively with families and higher education, business and community partners” through: 1) attending community events; 2) “deepen community support for ‘Compact for Public Education in Worcester’ by partnering with community businesses, agencies, and higher education” to quote; 3) opportunities for family engagement
  • 4 on professional culture: “enhance professional collaborative culture that promote strong ethical leadership and scholarship” through: 1) providing high quality professional development; 2) providing targeted intervention including central admin support for lowest performing schools by monitoring turnaround schools; 3) assist schools in using data

The committee is also being asked to review and approve changes to the Collaborative’s agreement; this appears to be a name change throughout (from “Central Massachusettts Special Education Collaborative” to “Central Massachusetts Collaborative”); there are no substantive changes.

And there is a request that the committee approve the AP Capstone Program; there is no backup on this, so I would assume it is going to subcommittee…? 

The Committee is also scheduled for an executive session at 6 on negotiations with the teachers’ union and with custodians; and a grievance for an HVAC technician.

There also is a Legislative breakfast on Friday morning at 9 am at Worcester Tech; on the agenda is the FY18 budget and a visit to the new Nelson Place. It also appears they want to have another legislative meeting on March 30 to discuss the new academy, AP test funding, MSBA projects, and the Adopt-a-School program.


no liveblog at the meeting; I’ll see about the Legislative breakfast. Maybe. 

Preview: City Council agenda (March 7)

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

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

  • Zoning: Tuyen Nguyen has a request to rezone 110 Lovell St from “limited business” to “limited residential.” This will be sent to the zoning board.
  • Public and Private Sts: Mark DeMauro has a request request to make part of Garrison Ave public.
  • What’s Attracting Businesses?: The Economic Development Committee is requesting reports from the City Manager about whether tax breaks for “bio manufacturing” have brought business to Worcester, and whether reducing the sewer connection fee has done something similar.
  • Psychiatric Capacity: Councilor Rivera is requesting details on “the current number of psychiatric beds that are available at area hospitals” and what impact may result if “Umass Memorial Medical Center closes 13 psychiatric beds.”
  • CSX Trucks: Councilor Russell is requesting a 30-day action plan for dealing with increased truck traffic due to the CSX terminal expansion. It seems like there’s an item about this every month, I’m not sure why new items are being submitted.
  • New Recycling Ideas: The city has been trying a pilot program where, instead of putting out your recycling in lidless bins, you use clear trash bags (a la NYC). Councilor Rosen, calling this pilot “highly successful,” asks if we can make these bags available citywide, suggesting that if we only pick up recycling every other week we’ll save enough money to make the clear bags available free. Councilor Rosen further asks if we can keep track of days that might be really windy, and delay recycling a day to skip those days (when the trash blows all around). I am curious how people would be informed of “wind days” in advance.
  • Public Displays of Health Inspection Reports: Citing Council votes from 2013 and 2014, Councilor Lukes asks if the city can require restaurants to post their health inspection reports.
  • The Past Five Years: Mayor Petty has an item asking for “a report concerning the last five plus years of investments in parks, playgrounds, school improvements, streets/sidewalk repair, and any other major neighborhood improvements.” I don’t know what larger issue this is concerning.
  • …And Justice for All: Councilor King has an item asking the Council to “hereby reaffirm the values of inclusion, respect and justice for all of its community members.”
  • Other Post-Employment Benefits: The Research Bureau has a report noting that while we’ve set aside money to fund 62% of our city employee pension liabilities, we’ve only funded 1% of our $860 million “OPEB” liabilities (healthcare etc.). The report further notes that most local towns are doing a terrible job of this as well. We do have more OPEB liabilities than other municipalities as a percentage of total property value.
  • More Murals?: The Economic Development Committee has considered a request from Bill Coleman for locals “to create a cityscape mural on city walls on Walpole St” and wants a report from the Manager on this.

Preview: City Council agenda (February 28)

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

This week: Union Station, parking, lead. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Public and Private Streets: There’s a citizen petition to make Melbourne St, in South Quinsig Village, a public street. It will be referred to the Planning Board.
  • Resident Parking: Lots of assorted parking and parking space issues this week. For example, various people on Winslow St have items relating to parking on that street, including requests for “installation of resident permit parking” and “installation of a ‘No Parking Here to Corner’ sign.”
  • Lead Contamination: Bill Coleman has a couple citizen items this week, including a request for an update on lead in our water and how it compares to other cities and towns in the area.
  • Crown Hill Foot Patrols: Councilor Rivera requests police foot patrols in the Crown Hill area. This was part of the area covered by a police “Neighborhood Response Team” last summer, that seemed to have had some effect.
  • Rules Nerdery: Councilor Economou has an item asking if the Council rules can be changed so that if the Council wants to vote to “file,” that is ditch, an item without first going through the whole discussion process, they could do it. AFAIK this is the way things currently are, somebody is confused about the Council rules here, maybe it is me.
  • Why Is Our Mail So Slow?: Councilor Bergman has an item requesting the US Postal Service explain why it can take up to 4 days to deliver mail sent within the city, and why some neighborhoods seem to take longer for mail to reach than others.
  • Union Station Debt: Councilor Lukes has an item asking about “the outstanding indebtedness of Union Station.” The station is owned by the quasi-governmental Worcester Redevelopment Authority, and operated by the WRA and MBTA. Councilor Lukes has a second item asking the Council to endorse the idea of transferring Union Station to the regional Massachusetts Port Authority (Massport), who currently own and operate Worcester Airport.
  • CSX Yard Expansion Nuisances: Councilor Mero-Carlson has an item asking the city to fix the traffic snarls around “Hamilton, Plantation & Grafton Streets” caused by increased truck traffic since the CSX intermodal terminal was expanded.
  • Praising the Police: Councilor Lukes has another item asking the Council to “recognize and congratulate” the Worcester police for their handling of a small, unruly march by “antifascists” held in the city recently, which led to several arrests.

Worcester School Committee meets Thursday, March 2

Cross-posted from Tracy’s blog.

Looks like a light agenda
There is no report of the superintendent.
There are no reports of subcommittees.
There are a number of congratulations.
There is a request from Miss McCullough for a report on bus tracking; note that this has been raised before.
There is a request that the committee accept $305.00 from the Tri State Truck Center, Inc. to the South High Community School’s Diesel Technician Training Program for the cost of a bus for a field trip.
Mayor Petty is asking about soccer for the Main South high schools.
Ms. Colorio is requesting a report on online learning.
She is also asking how many teachers were on administrative leave.

Administration is asking that the following courses be approved (note that this will go to TLSS for consideration; right now there’s no information on the courses):
English Composition & Literature I
The Development of Early Civilizations
Science Engineering & Technology I
Advanced Seminar (in what?)

There is also an executive session on (you guessed it!) PCBs, negotiations with the teachers, and a grievance from an HVAC employee.

City Council agenda: boring Valentine’s Day edition (February 14)

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

This week: Nothing of note. A ton of items on handicapped parking and the like. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Federal Homelessness Funding: Two Council committees (Veterans Affairs and Education) have an item asking how the city complies with the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, a federal law that provides funding for homelessness etc. I don’t know what this inquiry relates to.
  • Olean St Speed Trap: Councilor Rosen asks the police to crack down on speeding on Olean St (West Tatnuck). This is indicative of 99% of this week’s council agenda.
  • Abatement Letter Addition: If you think your property is valued too highly by the city, and thus that you’re paying too much in taxes, you can make a written argument asking for an “abatement.” Councilor Rosen this week has an item asking that when the city denies such a request, the letter of denial should include the reason why the request is denied. I’m not sure what that explanation would look like; I’d guess that, in most cases, it would just be “We think our valuation of your property is more accurate than the value you’re arguing for.”
  • Held Over from Last Week: Responding to a request originally made by Councilor Lukes, the City Manager has a report clarifying that organizations receiving HUD funding can engage in political activities, as long as they use non-HUD money for those activities.

Preview: City Council agenda (January 31)

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

This week: “sanctuary city” status, decriminalizing agriculture, infinite street and sidewalk items. If you know of anyone else who’d like to get our weekly preview via email, the link is here.

  • Sidewalk Repairs: There are so many items about specific sidewalk repairs on the agenda this week. If you’ve been wondering about your sidewalk, you might want to check the agenda.
  • Lake Quinsig Docks: One item asks the City Manager to provide “access to docks, where Lake Ave. North was repaired on Lake Quinsigamond, to nearby residents as they have always had for generations.”
  • More Train Service: Mayor Petty has an item asking that city, state, and federal officials meet to figure out how to increase MBTA and Amtrak service between Worcester and Boston, Springfield, and New York City. If all goes well, in the next few years we will add hundreds of housing units a short walk from the train station, a housing expansion equal to roughly 1% of our total current housing.
  • Stop Your Recycling from Blowing Around the Streets: Councilor Russell has an item asking the city to start cracking down on people who are overloading or badly packing their recycling bins, which causes their recycling to fall out and blow all over the neighborhood. As someone whose fence is perfectly oriented to snag the windblown recycling in our area, this idea makes me happy. Note also that there has been a proposal to switch from bins to clear trash bags for recycling, a change which would eliminate this issue.
  • Allowing Commercial Agriculture: At one point it looked like city government might draft some zoning rules such that it would be possible to farm commercially in Worcester. Lately, this seems to have stalled out. So this week Councilor Rivera has an item asking for a progress report on this.
  • Tax Breaks for Developers: Councilor Lukes has an item asking if, in the past five years, we’ve had any developers fail to comply with the terms of their tax breaks (Tax Increment Financing), and if so what the consequences for them have been.
  • Home Businesses: Councilor Lukes has a couple items asking for a report from the City Manager on all aspects of “home businesses” in the city. These are similar to items she submitted not long ago—I asked her what was up and she says “something else” has come up that “reminds me that our home business ordinance [discussion] continues.”
  • Sanctuary Cities: Whatever you want to call it, a lot of US municipal police departments avoid overly cooperating with federal immigration police unless it involves violent crimes, on the theory that plenty of people have friends and family in the country illegally, and that lots of people are going to be reluctant to talk to the police if there’s a risk somebody is going to get deported, and that we are all better off if people feel ok talking to the police to resolve actual violent crimes, thefts, and the like. This non-cooperation with immigration police takes various forms, for example if someone gets arrested and they are here illegally, the police would detain them the same amount of time they would detain a citizen they’d arrested, rather than holding them longer so that ICE could send someone to pick them up and deport them. Councilor Lukes has a series of items this week asking the Council to officially say that we want the Worcester police to cooperate fully with ICE in deporting illegal immigrants. Councilor Gaffney has a tiny item on the same topic but I can’t figure out if his item is written in such a way it would actually mean anything (also typos, c’mon Councilors, what the heck). People opposed to Lukes’s proposal will be demonstrating at City Hall starting at 6pm.
  • Surveillance and Dumping: Councilor Rivera has an item asking for a camera in front of the Benefit St community garden to discourage people dumping trash there. (Just a random thought: changes in how we handle snow removal really seem to be working, it is like Shock & Awe out there everytime it snows. What would it cost to make similar revisions in how we treat dumping?)
  • Dog Park/Rules: Councilor Rivera wants a sign explaining dog rules at Maloney Field.
  • Executive Session: The City Manager would like part of the meeting to be an executive (private) session for the Council to discuss a lawsuit between the city and Green Landscapes LLC.
  • Private and Public Streets: Laurian Banciulescu wants the city to convert Denmark St. from private to public.
  • Rezoning Norfolk St: The Planning Board and the Economic Development Committee both want the Council to reject the request to rezone some parcels on Norfolk St to residential.

Worcester School Committee meets Thursday

Cross-posted from Tracy’s blog.

The Worcester School Committee meets Thursday; you can find the agenda here.
The big news will be FY18, of course, but that report isn’t yet posted.

However, there is some news for FY17; namely, that the city DID in fact forward $70,000 from free cash when they closed the fiscal year to assist in saving the kindergarten aides! We aren’t there yet (if I’m reading this correctly, we’re still $300,000 or so short?), but we’ve made progress.

In the process, some budget related news: FY17’s statewide charter reimbursement line (identical to that proposed for FY18) was funded at only 46%, shorting Worcester $714,532 and the whole state by $54.2M.
There are some recognitions, retirements, appointments, and one resignation which is of note: Grace Howard-Donlin, who resigned effective last week, was the appointed director of the international baccalaureate program, and had been charged with planning that. It appears that the last gasps of a hope of any such program in Worcester have (once again) died.

There’s a report on the charter school tuition assessment  (which maybe I need to re-read, because I’m not sure why this was being asked…)
There’s responses coming back on the Space Monkey Challenge (and dangers thereof) and attempting to expand the AVID program.
There’s a request for this year’s incidents reports.
There’s a request that math activities accompany summer reading lists (as they do already).
There’s a request for a report on dual enrollment.
There’s a request that Worcester’s colleges perhaps kick in for Worcester’s students AP exams.
The administration is sending the student handbook to subcommittee, and they are recommending these additional new classes:
High School:  Accounting 1; AP Seminar; Document Processing
Middle School:  Chorus; Dance Ensemble; Dance for Fitness; String Orchestra
Those will go to Teaching, Learning, and Student Support; there is as yet no description of any of them.
There are also requests that the School Committee accept donations of $292.20 and $1,212.49 for Woodland Academy and $400 for Forest Grove.

And the administration is requesting that the following schools and projects be forwarded to the MSBA:

Burncoat High School: Window Replacements*
Elm Park Community School:  Window Replacements
Lincoln Street School:   Window, Roof and Boiler Replacements
Rice Square School:   Window Replacement
Thorndyke Road School:   Window Replacement

*Yes, this is the ridiculous idea that started circulating at the last school committee meeting that the secondary school that most needs rebuilding should just get windows.

PCBs remain in executive session; there is also collective bargaining with teachers and a grievance from an HVAC worker.

I’m going to try to make the budget report this go-round.

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.