Friday, February 26, 2021

The latest political advertising

 Where was the author all these years? Did he not still live in the hood for the past 20 years or more? Funny how these things appear now, just in time for the election season.

From the MWDN:

The city is comprised of a variety of diverse neighborhoods, from Nobscot to Saxonville to Lokerville, each with its own identity and history.

“We’re really a community of a bunch of neighborhoods,” said District 8 City Councilor John Stefanini, a resident of the Coburnville-Tripoli neighborhood.

Stefanini is seeking an ordinance to create Neighborhood Advisory Groups throughout the city that would harness neighbors’ expertise, experience and energy, create a stronger sense of community and give residents a louder voice in city government.

Several other cities, including Boston and Newton, have formed neighborhood groups to connect community members with city leaders to promote their neighborhoods and ensure the areas retain their unique characteristics and vitality. Stefanini said strong, engaged neighborhoods are key to creating a healthy, vibrant and thriving city.

“We as a community need to put out a welcome wagon for our neighborhoods because they are what binds us together,” he said.

Under Stefanini’s proposal, neighborhood groups would help evaluate impacts and propose mitigation for local development projects; propose beautification, signage and capital projects; and evaluate municipal services and suggest sustainability strategies.

The groups will secure support and funding for annual block parties, cleanup days and crime watches, along with sending out advance notification of municipal-related public works or utility projects, access and disseminate information through city lists and the website and establish permit parking.

“This is all about community-building,” said Stefanini. “…A stronger community is built one neighborhood at time.”

 The mayor would annually assess the strengths and challenges, neighborhood by neighborhood, and make recommendations to the council for positive changes to bylaws and municipal practices.

Residents would request the establishment of a neighborhood group to the City Council, which would hold a public hearing and eventually vote. Neighborhood groups would be self-selecting and shall include an 11- to 19-member executive committee, with membership open to all residents of the neighborhood as set out in the group’s bylaws, according to the proposed ordinance.

Stefanini said there are several former Town Meeting members, community activists, newcomers and townies who want to work with city government to represent neighborhood interests and issues. He cited the Friends of Saxonville as a model neighborhood group.

In the Coburnville-Tripoli neighborhood, a group was started 15 years ago and faded, but has begun to return. The group introduced neighbors living a few doors down or a street away, as well as strengthened connections.

“It’s helped us get to know each other,” said Stefanini.

Stefanini’s request is before the City Council’s Ordinance and Rules Committee, which will provide a recommendation to the full council.

The fix is in on the water deficit

 Notice which departments didn't contribute... Police and Fire who between them spend 2 million a year plus on OT. Arrests are down 80%, FPD said they are giving out summons instead of arresting some criminal violators. Crime continues to drop in the Ham so it would be sensible to think that court time OT has dramatically been reduced, detective time, etc, yet the administration takes money from media services which is separately funded by the three cable company's. That revenue (almost 1 million a year and dropping) is only to be used for public access, Gov access and the school channel as far as I know.

And again, the administration ignores the revenue that will be coming in slowly over the next two years from the cannabis industry, which the COO stated would be 500k to 600k when everyone is up and running. I would have preferred to see that tax revenue go towards the deficit.  


From the MWDN:

The fix for the multi million-dollar gap will come from dipping into the city’s free cash reserve. The water and sewer department enterprise funds will each be cut by $100,000 and $200,000 more will be taken from the general reserve fund. The proposal includes using $2.1 million from free cash to cover the deficit.

Various city departments will pitch in about $661,000 to refill the free cash fund, including $411,000 from the city’s schools, $150,000 from the library, $27,000 from the Council on Aging, $22,700 from media services, $21,000 from Planning and Community Development, $19,000 from capital projects and $10,000 from Loring Arena.

More:Framingham Finance Subcommittee agrees on solution to $2.5M water-sewer fund deficit

Some councilors were concerned about the $150,000 being allocated from the library budget, however, Mary Ellen Kelly, the city’s chief financial officer, said the library funds are savings from unfilled jobs. The library has been closed throughout the ongoing pandemic.

“This is not a cut to the library budget,” said Kelly. “These are funds that are essentially savings, but have been generated by vacancies that occurred during the course of the fiscal year.”


Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Solar panels on the library...not so fast

 If you missed it, last night's FinCom marathon meeting about the solar panels on the library was a killer. The biggest question that went unanswered was are we getting the best deal? It took them 3 plus hours to ask the administration to get a few proposals before signing a 20 year deal. I am in total agreement with getting the best deal possible and agree that FinSubCom should be asking questions of any deal the city enters into.

Three councilors voted for more info, while the same two held their ground and insisted, the process worked well. The savings over 20 years was estimated at 100K, with the tax credits going to the company. As the meeting dragged on, the petty insults made the meeting unproductive.

As a multi-homeowner, last year I gave in to the solar panel idea. But when I received quotes from 2 companies I was dismayed to find such vast differences in the deals the companies offered. Not only in the amount of panels on each house, not only the length of time under contract, but the price per kilowatt was also different. From my experience, the more research one does, the better. Needless to say, I didn't sign on with either company.

Monday, February 15, 2021

who's running... got the robo call yesterday

 I'm not sure who is behind the call... just the Mayor? or maybe they all are funding the robo call.. Or maybe it's the democratic Town committee. The caller asked how I would rate the Mayor, George King, Adam Steiner, John Stefinini, Maria Robinson and Mary Kate Feeney. 

I was surprised to hear Maria and Mary Kate's name. 

I am surprised not to see Christine, Dennis or Jack Lewis's name 

Who's left to run?

Friday, February 5, 2021

The solution to the water deficit

 I guess we will still see a 12% increase in water rates this budget year... but no mention of that in the Patch piece.

A group of Framingham City Councilors has agreed to a plan to cure a $2.5 million deficit in the city's water and sewer enterprise fund — a problem that has delayed the mailing of tax bills this winter.

The $2.5 million will come from freezing or cutting a number of city budgets, including Framingham schools, the library and the water and sewer fund itself.

The biggest piece — $2.1 million — will come from Framingham's free cash reserve, which is the city's rainy day fund. But the city will backfill the rainy day fund to the tune of about $611,000, so it will only be down by about $1.5 million by the end of fiscal 2021.

Framingham Schools will contribute $411,000 back to the rainy day fund. The money comes from a reduction in salaries due to teachers taking federal Family and Medical Leave Act — an unpaid medical leave program — this year to stay safe from coronavirus, and savings from field trip costs. The School Committee agreed to contribute the money at the Wednesday meeting.

On the municipal side, several departments will freeze budgets to save $250,000 by the end of the fiscal year. Framingham Chief Financial Officer Mary Ellen Kelly said a majority of that savings will come from the Framingham Public Library and others — she did not specify which departments because negotiations are still going on.

Framingham will also use $200,000 from the general fund reserves, which has a balance of $400,000. Finally, the water and sewer budget will be cut by $200,000.

The Council Finance Subcommittee, which includes Councilors Adam Steiner, George King Jr., Janet Leombruno, Cesar Stewart-Morales and Michael Cannon, unanimously approved the plan at a Thursday night meeting. The compromise was the result of a private meeting last week with King, Steiner, Mayor Yvonne Spicer, Kelly, Superintendent Robert Tremblay, School Committee Chair Adam Freudberg, District 6 School Committee Member Geoffrey Epstein and Framingham Schools Chief Financial Officer Lincoln Lynch.