Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

June 1, 2015

Budget Approval is the Big Item on the June 1, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Filed under: Cambridge,Central Square,City Council — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 1:18 pm

Budget Approval is the Big Item on the June 1, 2015 Cambridge City Council Agenda

Budget Approval Night!Tonight’s the night for approval of the FY2016 Budget and related matters. Here are the items that seemed noteworthy:

Manager’s Agenda #5. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to appointment of the following persons as members of the Community Preservation Act Committee for 5-year terms effective June 1, 2015: Chandra Harrington, Thacher Tiffany

The CPA Committee is a 9-person board appoint by the City Manager. These two appointments are for the Historical Commission representative (Chandra Harrington) and the Planning Board representative (Thacher Tiffany). The CPA Committee’s next meeting is June 16 at 6:00pm in the Sullivan Chamber at City Hall. The meeting agenda will include providing the public an opportunity to suggest and recommend projects for CPA funding for Housing, Open Space and Historic Preservation in FY16.

Manager’s Agenda #7. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to the appropriation of $2,300,000 from Free Cash to the Public Works Public Investment Fund Extraordinary Expenditures Account for the third phase of the LED street light conversion project.

This should be the final phase of the conversion project. It is estimated that the City will achieve over 40% of energy savings once the project is complete. Phase 3 of the project includes the retrofitting of decorative and park fixtures across the city.

Manager’s Agenda #13. Transmitting communication from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to a zoning petition to amend the provisions of the PUD-KS District set forth in Section 13.10 of the Zoning Ordinance. The intent of these proposed changes is to implement the zoning recommendations of the Kendall Square ("K2") Planning Study in order to facilitate future redevelopment of the John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center site, which occupies the majority of the PUD-KS District, in accordance with the study.

As the communication states: "The intent of these proposed changes is to implement the zoning recommendations of the Kendall Square (“K2”) Planning Study in order to facilitate future redevelopment of the John A. Volpe Transportation Systems Center site, which occupies the majority of the PUD-KS District, in accordance with that study." One potentially controversial part of the proposal is that in addition to a general height cap of 250 feet in the district, there is an allowance for the Planning Board to potentially approve a single signature landmark building of up to 500 feet if it meets "a high standard for architectural excellence."

Committee Report #1. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for public hearings held on May 7, 2015, May 14, 2015 and May 13, 2015 relative to the General Fund Budget for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2016 and recommending adoption of the General Fund Budget in the amount of $510,570,005.

Committee Report #2. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 14, 2015 relative to the Water Fund Budget for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2016 and recommending adoption of the Water fund Budget in the amount of $13,964,115.

Committee Report #3. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Marc C. McGovern, Chair of the Finance Committee, for a public hearing held on May 14, 2015 relative to the Public Investment Fund for the City of Cambridge for Fiscal Year 2016 and recommending adoption of the Public Investment Budget in the amount of $18,076,290.

Unfinished Business #15-20. Communications from Richard C. Rossi, City Manager, relative to orders requesting the appropriation and authorization to borrow $67,200,000 consisting of:

  • $37,750,000 to provide funds for various water pollution abatement projects;
  • $5,000,000 to provide funds for a Comprehensive Facilities Improvement Plan;
  • $4,600,000 to provide funds for surface improvements to the Harvard Square area;
  • $150,000 to provide funds for the purchase and installation of mechanical components to ensure the operational integrity of the elevator at the Robert W. Healy Public Safety Facility;
  • $15,700,000 to provide funds for various School building infrastructure projects; and
  • $4,000,000 to provide funds for the reconstruction of various City streets and sidewalks.

These are the traditional Finance Committee reports and loan authorizations relating to the approval of the FY2016 Budget.

Order #1. That the City Manager is requested to confer with relevant City staff and the School Committee, who is requested to refer this matter to the Superintendent of Schools, regarding CPS enrollment information for multi-units, car ownership and excise tax payments and parking permit applications and trip generation data.   Councillor Kelley, Councillor Cheung and Councillor McGovern

This seems like a relevant request for information as we head toward the upcoming Citywide Planning Process, i.e. "the Master Plan".

Committee Report #5. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk transmitting a report from Councillor Timothy J. Toomey, Chair of the Government Operations, Rules and Claims Committee for a public hearing held on May 21, 2015 to discuss development of a process for the evaluation of the City Manager and recap the procedure for the setting of City Council Goals for the upcoming Legislative Term and to consider a different format.

I’ll simply expand on what I said at this meeting. I participated in the circus-like public evaluation of the City Manager back in 1993 and I would never want to see anything like that repeated again. Any member of the public may comment on the performance of the City Manager whenever they please, and they often do, but this is fundamentally the responsibility of the elected City Council to evaluate and hire a city manager. If people have issues with city management, they should speak to their councillors. It’s also important to keep distinct the periodic goal-setting process and any evaluation, contract extension, or hiring of the City Manager.

Committee Report #6. A communication was received from Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk, transmitting a report from Councillor Dennis J. Carlone and Vice Mayor Dennis A. Benzan, Co-Chairs of the Ordinance Committee, for a public hearing held on Apr 15, 2015 to discuss the C2 portion of the K2C2 Study.

Hopefully the stars are now aligned for more serious discussion and action at the City Council on the future of Central Square. – Robert Winters

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