Ward 3 and City Update April 30, 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors;

Obviously, with the record snowfall we were hit with and the issues that arose on Plum Island and else where (roof collapses etc.) winter is still on our collective minds. Therefore, I submitted a proposal requiring the Department of Public Services to submit a written snow removal plan to the City Council by each first of September meeting. I am happy to report that this Order passed City Council on Monday night by a margin of 9-1 with one Councillor absent. The Order calls for DPS to submit to City Council a plan detailing street, school, parking lot and specific sidewalk snow removal as well as posting this so residents have a clear understanding how snow operations. Included in the plan is how the parking bans and snow emergencies are communicated to the residents.

The DPS did a great job considering the 107 inches of blowing and drifting snow while many PI sewers froze and in some cases backed up. This Order will provide direction and clarity for snow operations in our City. On a personal note, I am grateful for the support I received from other Councillors, DPS, and City staff that aided me in drafting this Order.

The City Council approved just over $358K in capital expenses raging from DPS equipment to a Handicap ramp at the Youth Services location at the old Brown School. While the newspaper reported this it did not report that while all proposals passed, the votes were not all unanimous and concerns of need were voiced.

A $18K free cash transfer to the Harbor Commission for the new Harbor Master Shack was rejected 10-0. On a similar note Newburyport was awarded over $448K in grant monies on Wednesday (two days after our fortuitous rejection); something the Council was blissfully unaware of. The resounding theme was no taxpayer monies should be used as the HM account is independent and self sustaining.

Unfortunately, we shelled out $346K for Plum Island sewer costs incurred this winter. $70K of this were hotel bills that we will recoup from insurance. We also entered executive session discussing legal strategies for the PI issue moving forward. We also voted to allow bonding $1.5 million for the final piece of restoration of the War Memorial Stadium. This debt is off set by debt services that will be paid off in the very near future. On May 11 at our next meeting we will get the proposed FY16 budget. A key piece is the school portion. I attended the school budget hearing and heard testimony from many speakers. There is about $650K gap between the proposed school budget and the the Mayor’s school budget. The school committee will vote on their final proposed budget on May 4 and it is required to be on our desks at the May 11 meeting.

I will be traveling the next ten days but I will be checking my Email daily to respond to questions or comments.

Bob

Photo: Joel Page for DailyMail.com

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