Retiring President of Middlesex Community College Carole Cowan is honored by the City Council and by State Senator Eileen Donoghue (on behalf of herself and Representatives Golden and Nangle).
Public Hearing: To adopt the minimum residential factor
No speakers for or against. CFO Connor Baldwin gives council presentation on tax rate for 3rd quarter bills that are about to go out. Significant expenses in FY15 budget due to $3mil increase in pension costs, contractual salaries, net school spending, snow and ice removal which resulted in 3½% increase in taxes. The “MRF” – Mass law allows portion of tax burden to be shifted from one class of property to another. Lowell has chosen to shift the burden away from residential properties as much as the law allows. $15.48 per $1000 of residential value. New growth projection of $2.5 million was estimated; DOR recently approved new growth of $3.175mil. New growth has helped keep average tax increase to 2.25%. City Manager attributes larger than expected new growth to “diligent effort by assessors, especially regarding personal property taxation.” Council approves unanimously.
Council votes to cancel meetings of December 23 and December 30, 2014.
Councilor Rourke questions Recycling Coordinator about the cost of recycling. He says it costs $74 per ton to dispose of trash; no cost to dispose of recycling (there is a cost for pickup). Coordinator says we could be recycling at a higher percentage. Says more education and outreach could increase percentage. Says there’s no provision for a household to buy a second recycling cart.
Vote to transfer $100K+ to cover deficit in Lowell Memorial Auditorium enterprise fund.
Neighborhood Subcommittee: received presentation by the Lowell Transitional Living Center. Then met with neighborhood leaders. Then discussed election polling places.
Higher Education Subcommittee reports on presentation made by Carole Cowan on overall state of Middlesex Community College.
City Manager announces that this weekend parking will be free in downtown garages.
Councilor Martin requests presentation to Transportation Subcommittee on renovations to Lord Overpass. Says it’s a critical piece of Hamilton Canal development so it would be helpful to get an update on the plans.
Councilor Martin requests report on collapsed wall at Prospect and Crosby Streets.
Councilor Rourke asks Lowell Police assess benefits of using “Social Sentinel”, a social media monitoring platform that looks for threats of crimes.
Mayor Elliot requests CM explore feasibility of establishing a Veterans Commission. John Mitchell speaks in support of the motion. Mayor Elliot thanks Mr. Mitchell for his service in the military. Says he’s attended many veteran events and has been an honor to preside at them. Says due to passage of time, membership in veteran’s organization is slipping. Also comments that there is not an essential voice in the city for veteran’s events. There’s a hunger homeless commission and other commissions, there should be one for veterans too. There should be more outreach to find younger veterans who have recently returned from Iraq and Afghanistan. The mission of the commission should be to provide support and assistance and to complement the Veterans Agent, not to tell him what to do. Maybe this commission could provide a report to this council annually on the state of veterans in the city to help us focus on the needs of veterans. The commission could also help plan civic observances: recurring and onetime events. It could also partner with other organizations like UMass Lowell ROTC and Veteran Affairs Offices. There’s also ways to use social media to engage younger veterans. The way we honor and serve our veterans is to be sure they get the services they need. Councilor Samaras says he supports the motion. We’ve seen the problem of the delivery of services. This motion will help. It’s timely and necessary. Motion passes.
Mayor Elliot requests City Manager/Mayor name steering committee of Cambodian activists to work with the city on the creation of a monument to Cambodian immigrants.
Meeting adjourns at 8:26 pm