The City Council will meet on Monday. Oct. 1, 2018, at 5:30pm. The meeting will open as usual with public comment. At 6:30pm the city manager and budget and finance staff will present the only item on city’s agenda: an explanation of the FY19 property tax levy. See CMA #1 below. The requested Council action is for us to vote to send the tax classification to the Mass Dept. of Revenue for approval. The full agenda is here.
City Manager’s Agenda
#1 FY19 Property Tax Levy: The 2019 fiscal year began on July 1, and in May we approved a budget based on a projected tax levy that has since been revised down by $2.75M. Here are a few figures pulled from the manager’s very detailed analysis of how the tax levy is set:
#1 Food Allergens in Public Parks: I sponsored this order after hearing from the mother of a toddler with severe food allergies. She asked that we help raise awareness that leaving food remnants in playgrounds and parks can be dangerous for people with allergies. For example if someone eats peanut butter crackers at a playground and drops some of them, a small child with allergies could be tempted to eat them. The objective is not to ban such foods in parks — parents and caregivers will still need to be vigilant — but to make other park-users more aware that properly disposing of their food is very important to everyone’s safety.
#2 Four-Way Stop Sign Request at Hurley and Spring St, which is near the Kennedy Longfellow School and a tot lot.
#3 Public Financing: Last spring Councillor Toomey made a proposal for making public financing available to low-income candidates for municipal office and for an opt-in program limiting campaign spending by all candidates to amounts that are far lower than what successful candidates typically spend. It was referred to the Government Operations Committee, which I chair. He is now asking that a committee hearing be scheduled immediately and a plan for implementation be drafted by 11/19. His proposal is one of many possible strategies to help address concerns over how campaigns are financed, but it may not be workable or the best approach.
#4 3-D Crosswalk Painting: Councillor Toomey is requesting a 3-D optical illusion crosswalk used in Iceland be painted somewhere in East Cambridge. The image was widely shared on social media last year, but in the U.S. such non-standard markings are consider potentially more dangerous than the traditional white zebra stripes.
#5 Outreach at Food Pantries: This order suggests that the City place informational brochures about social services and housing programs at food pantries. Seems like something we should have thought of long ago.
#6 Racial Profiling at Local Businesses: This order asks the city manager to look into an alleged instance of racial profiling at a CVS and that a committee hearing be held to discuss what the City can do to address complaints of racial profiling at local stores and businesses.
#7 Draft Envision Recommendations Next Steps: Councillor Carlone sponsored an order, which I co-sponsored, to ask that the recommendations of the various Envision Working groups be referred to the City Council and the relevant committees for our review and discussion. Councillor Carlone has annotated the draft Envision recommendations with his own comments (#2 in the section called “Communications from City Officers”).
#8 LEED Platinum School: I am pleased to co-sponsor this order from Councillor Zondervan to plan an event celebrating the MLK-Putnam Ave Upper School for achieving a LEED Platinum rating.
#9 National Domestic Violence Awareness Month: The four female councillors are co-sponsoring this order recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month and scheduling a vigil at City Hall on 10/3 at 6pm. A number of other events are planned (see press release). The order also supports reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act, which expires at the end of Sept. First enacted in 1994, the federal law funds programs to aid victims of sexual violence. Read more.
There are reports from two Transportation Committee hearings I chaired in September. Report #1 is on a potential pilot of shared electric scooters (on hold, pending changes to state regulations) and #2 is on reducing the speed limit to 20MPH on most residential streets (unanimously supported; the staff were asked to come back with recommendations for implementation).
Communications from Other City Officers
#1 Update on the 9/25 School Committee meeting
#2 Councillor Carlone’s comments on the draft Envision recommendations
Public Comment and Viewing Meetings
Public comment begins at 5:30 pm. Each person is allowed to speak for up to 3 minutes on any agenda item except for communications from other members of the public. There is an online system for signing up for public comment that goes live on the Friday morning before each Monday meeting. Here is the link. You also may call 617-349-4280 on the Monday of the meeting from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm to sign up to speak, or sign up when you arrive at City Hall by going to the City Council office after 5:00pm and using the public computer terminal on the desk by the door. Regardless of how you sign up you should do so before 6:00 pm on Monday. To submit written comments, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and cc City Clerk Donna Lopez at email@example.com. If received after Thursday at 3pm, your comments will appear on the public record (under “Communications”) at the next subsequent Council meeting.
City Council meetings are televised on Channel 22-CityView and live-streamed on the City’s Open Meeting Portal and on the City’s YouTube site. Recorded versions of all Council meetings may be found on the Open Meeting Portal.
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Jan Devereux City Councillor Cambridge, MA