Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

April 26, 2015

What’s on Tap for the Monday, April 27, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting?

Filed under: Cambridge,Cambridge government,City Council — Tags: , , — Robert Winters @ 11:50 pm

What’s on Tap for the Monday, April 27, 2015 Cambridge City Council meeting?

Budget Time!The Big Item is the arrival of the FY2016 Budget. In addition to that, here are a few of my favorite things….

Manager’s Agenda #2. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the reappointment of the following members of the Community Preservation Act Committee for 5-year terms: Ellen Shachter, Gerard Clark, Albe Simenas, Susan Schlesinger

All of these people reappointed by the City Manager are wonderful, community-oriented people well-suited to the CPA Committee. I only wish that all the great people serving on the City’s Boards and Commissions got half the attention that the elected officials receive for all that they do for an annual stipend of $0.00.

Manager’s Agenda #4. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-139, regarding a report on a feasibility study and subsequent action plan on instituting suffrage for immigrants in Cambridge.

At the risk of infuriating some people, let me reiterate my point of view on this: Citizenship = The Right to Vote. If an immigrant living in Cambridge wants to vote in any elections – federal, state, or local – the proper route is to become a U.S. citizen.

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 14-130, regarding a report on whether preference points can legally be allotted to all city employees for affordable housing units.

Though we can all appreciate the desire that City employees should be able to afford housing in Cambridge, that same sentiment applies to everyone else who works here. Seriously, why should a City employee get preferential treatment when there are so many other deserving people seeking affordable housing in and around Cambridge?

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to Awaiting Report Item Number 15-39, regarding a report on the Citywide Planning Process (Master Plan) including next steps and timeline. [Word][PDF]

I suppose this is progress. However, the more I think about this continuing quest for a Mystical Master Plan the more it seems as though we’re just spending money on outside consultants to replicate the planning the City has already been doing for the last two decades. I’m sure a few good ideas will grow out of the process and I do hope that constructive people will participate, but I strongly suspect that when all is said in done those people who are perpetually dissatisfied will continue to be dissatisfied.

Manager’s Agenda #9. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the FY2016 submitted budget and appropriation orders. [attachment]

This is the best time of year to become a student of how the City really functions. Here’s some comparative information of the adopted budgets by department and function in past years and in the newly submitted FY2016 Budget:

GENERAL GOVERNMENT FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
Mayor $430,035 $558,785 $589,680 $586,635 -0.5 5.0 36.4
Executive $1,353,140 $2,008,150 $2,298,685 $2,356,150 2.5 17.3 74.1
City Council $975,570 $1,683,125 $1,711,115 $1,789,700 4.6 6.3 83.5
City Clerk $720,925 $1,119,765 $1,240,705 $1,123,935 -9.4 0.4 55.9
Law $1,780,975 $2,163,240 $2,176,975 $2,174,415 -0.1 0.5 22.1
Finance $8,837,560 $13,292,350 $14,540,220 $16,024,605 10.2 20.6 81.3
Employee Benefits $20,499,920 $32,787,200 $32,882,665 $33,025,885 0.4 0.7 61.1
General Services $984,345 $732,695 $704,725 $683,040 -3.1 -6.8 -30.6
Election Commission $756,540 $1,013,565 $1,072,390 $1,149,425 7.2 13.4 51.9
Public Celebrations $671,505 $891,945 $874,335 $905,900 3.6 1.6 34.9
Reserve $37,500 $37,500 $37,500 $37,500 0.0 0.0 0.0
TOTAL $37,048,015 $56,288,320 $58,128,995 $59,857,190 3.0 6.3 61.6
PUBLIC SAFETY FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
Animal Commission $228,870 $309,700 $323,535 $331,365 2.4 7.0 44.8
Fire $28,891,840 $43,350,275 $44,661,535 $44,990,895 0.7 3.8 55.7
Police $31,515,220 $47,186,015 $49,260,625 $50,646,165 2.8 7.3 60.7
Traffic, Parking & Transportation $8,175,095 $10,935,015 $11,088,415 $11,483,870 3.6 5.0 40.5
Police Review & Advisory Board $77,210 $73,440 $75,235 $77,435 2.9 5.4 0.3
Inspectional Services $2,261,215 $3,180,045 $3,270,335 $3,414,450 4.4 7.4 51.0
License Commission $726,735 $1,030,970 $1,063,745 $1,183,145 11.2 14.8 62.8
Weights & Measures $98,910 $138,540 $142,935 $145,875 2.1 5.3 47.5
Electrical $2,239,640 $2,840,910 $2,767,880 $2,594,885 -6.3 -8.7 15.9
Emergency Management $137,820
Emergency Communications $3,097,485 $4,434,425 $4,631,960 $5,077,255 9.6 14.5 63.9
TOTAL $77,450,040 $113,479,335 $117,286,200 $119,945,340 2.3 5.7 54.9
COMMUNITY MAINT/DEV. FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
Public Works $23,648,125 $32,859,690 $33,634,490 $35,090,060 4.3 6.8 48.4
Community Development $4,472,620 $5,676,340 $6,335,440 $7,359,590 16.2 29.7 64.5
Historical Commission $457,580 $632,940 $687,860 $654,580 -4.8 3.4 43.1
Conservation Commission $89,760 $123,470 $127,770 $130,585 2.2 5.8 45.5
Peace Commission $76,215 $143,940 $148,445 $151,510 2.1 5.3 98.8
Cable T.V. $999,500 $1,474,795 $1,452,495 $1,536,585 5.8 4.2 53.7
Debt Service $23,917,070 $49,716,250 $50,446,035 $54,664,525 8.4 10.0 128.6
TOTAL $53,660,870 $90,627,425 $92,832,535 $99,587,435 7.3 9.9 85.6
HUMAN RESOURCE/DEV. FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
Library $5,461,430 $8,946,395 $9,249,325 $9,723,990 5.1 8.7 78.0
Human Services $14,581,590 $23,155,080 $24,225,290 $25,354,795 4.7 9.5 73.9
Women’s Commission $155,860 $233,115 $241,295 $246,425 2.1 5.7 58.1
Human Rights Commission $158,730 $249,380 $266,890 $275,140 3.1 10.3 73.3
Veterans $510,885 $1,005,375 $1,092,655 $1,123,070 2.8 11.7 119.8
TOTAL $20,868,495 $33,589,345 $35,075,455 $36,723,420 4.7 9.3 76.0
CITY TOTAL $189,027,420 $293,984,425 $303,323,185 $316,113,385 4.2 7.5 67.2
EDUCATION FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
Schools Operating (TOTAL) $122,053,195 $150,989,445 $156,669,635 $163,940,420 4.6 8.6 34.3
INTERGOVERNMENTAL FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
MWRA $16,177,455 $21,346,815 $22,189,730 $23,516,200 6.0 10.2 45.4
Cherry Sheet Assessments $11,569,960 $20,126,950 $21,504,975 $21,336,755 -0.8 6.0 84.4
Cambridge Health Alliance $6,500,000 $6,500,000 $6,750,000 $7,000,000 3.7 7.7 7.7
TOTAL $34,247,415 $47,973,765 $50,444,705 $51,852,955 2.8 8.1 51.4
GRAND TOTALS $345,328,030 $492,947,635 $510,437,525 $531,906,760 4.2 7.9 54.0
FY05 adopted FY14 adopted FY15 adopted FY16 submitted 1 yr % change 2 yr % change 11 yr % change
WATER $17,098,120 $14,238,700 $13,964,275 $13,964,115 0.0 -1.9 -18.3
PUBLIC INVESTMENT $8,834,255 $34,407,930 $31,954,025 $18,076,290 (*) -43.4 -47.5 104.6

(*) Does not include additional Public Investment Appropriation Orders for FY16 that require authorization to borrow funds.


Resolution #14. Recognition of the dedication of the Officer Sean Collier Memorial and gratitude to Officer Collier for his service and sacrifice. Councillor Toomey

Many of us who work at MIT and who had the pleasure of knowing Sean Collier will be at the dedication this Wed, Apr 29 at noon.

Resolution #17. Recognition to Sara Mae Berman for her accomplishments and for leading the way in women’s sports and congratulations on her induction into the Distance Running Hall of Fame.   Councillor McGovern

Congratulations to my neighbor and friend Sara Mae Berman. I would also give her an award for her rhubarb pies.

Resolution #32. Congratulations to the 2015 City of Cambridge Outstanding City Employee Awards.   Mayor Maher

This year’s recipients will be honored at a ceremony on Friday, May 1, 2015, at 9:30am, in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall. The City Manager will also be presenting a special award in memory and honor of Assistant City Manager Brian Murphy to a person who is committed to making government improve the lives of others. I can think of many City employees who would be deserving of this award.

Order #6. Amendment by adding new Rule 31C regarding City Manager appointments to the Cambridge Housing Authority.   Councillor Kelley

The City Council has the responsibility of approving appointments to only two Boards – the Cambridge Housing Authority and the Cambridge Redevelopment Authority. The intention of this Order is to establish a formal process for approving these appointments via review by standing City Council committees prior to being voted by the full City Council.

Order #7. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff to: determine the existing capacity of the City to address excessive noise complaints; analyze past complaints to determine if there have been any trends in type, location, time or any other aspect of formal noise complaints and response actions in Cambridge; create a noise map focusing on existing noise from industrial, lab and office buildings and the impact of that noise on residential structures; review opportunities to provide noise measurement and enforcement capabilities and responsibilities within the Police Department, Inspectional Services, DPW and the Department of Public Health to provide comprehensive, 24/7 noise response capacity with Cambridge.   Councillor Kelley and Councillor McGovern

This is a good initiative that I hope will eventually lead to some clarification in the Zoning Ordinance regarding compatible uses in districts with a mix of housing and potentially noisy other permitted uses, especially laboratories and manufacturing facilities. This is a topic that should probably be rolled into the upcoming Citywide Planning Process, a.k.a. Master Plan. Ideally there would be some acknowledgement of the fact that even if labs and residences can coexist in a mixed-use district, that might not extend to 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The same goes for clubs, taverns, and any other use that extend into the night-time hours. Perhaps we need to create zoning based not just on location but also on time of day.

Order #9. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff and report back to the City Council with suggested language for either a Home Rule petition or a change to general state law that requires all individuals involved in a collision, to include dooring, to give everyone else involved written contact information, not just to offer it.   Councillor Kelley

Another good idea from the city councillor who has the most experience navigating Cambridge by bicycle. It’s always best to exchange information even for a minor collision because it’s often the case that you only discover damage or injury hours or even days after the altercation.

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Paula Crane, Deputy City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor E. Denise Simmons, Chair of the Housing Committee for a public hearing held on Mar 19, 2015 to provide an update and continue discussion on the incentive zoning study from the Community Development Department.

The current recommendation is to increase the housing contribution from $4.58 to $10 to $12 per square foot and to make regular CPI adjustments in the future. Some activists would prefer that it be multiplied ten-fold, but it’s always easy to say that when you’re spending other people’s money.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan and Councillor Dennis J. Carlone, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 1, 2015 to continue discussions on the Normandy/Twining petition.

There’s a good chance that this petition will be passed to a 2nd Reading at this meeting and be placed in the queue for ordination in a few weeks. The Planning Board will also be continuing their hearing on the petition the following day. I’m sure there will be a lot of public comment on this item, though I seriously doubt if there will be any new revelations. People are just digging in at this point and crafting their rhetoric as if this were a military matter. It’s not. It’s just about building a place where people can live. – Robert Winters

2 Comments

  1. I wish it didn’t feel war like, but it definitely does. I just don’t trust people who change their rhetoric on a dime to suit the season. The shit part is that we never get to have a rational debate its all just reactionary nonsense whose tenor is determined by how riled the perpetually anti base gets.

    Comment by patrick barrett — April 27, 2015 @ 3:38 pm

  2. The most disagreeable aspect to this whole drama is that there is a group of activists who feel that they have a right to say who is and who is not permitted to live in the Central Square area. Though many of them own their own homes that they bought years ago on the free market, they assert that only the so-called “affordable units” are where real people will live.

    People of all income levels are real people regardless what the activists have to say, and everybody is welcome to contribute to making the Central Square area better in every way for everybody. That includes the people who will live, like so many of the activists, in housing not subsidized directly or indirectly by the government.

    Comment by Robert Winters — April 27, 2015 @ 4:20 pm

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