Sunday Notes June 26th 2016


Manager “Evaluation” on the Agenda

The City Council PERSONNEL SUBCOMMITTEE will be MEETING this Tuesday at 5:30 for Discussion of Performance Evaluation of City Manager.

Overall I’d give the Manager a solid grade along with the same 3% salary increase for the next two years he has given to the city unions. If it’s okay for the Unions it should be okay for the Manager. The Murphy administration has shown a commitment to Economic Development, public safety and a high commitment to education.

The administration has exceeded expectations by even his harshest critics who expected a return to Tammany Hall instead of the professional way it has been running. Is it perfect? No but find me any municipality that is.

As long as they’re beyond those five years”they’re free to do whatever they want.”

While I feel bad for the residents of Perkins Park can we please stop the conspiracy theories and whining about Mira Development for following the letter of the law and for taking advantage of the law. After receiving millions in tax dollars to renovate the Mills they are selling the buildings at a very nice profit. The Historical Administration has made it clear they are beyond the required 5 years and can sell. It may seem unfair but it’s all legal.

UMass Lowell a STATE entity has every legal right to purchase it and they don’t need to ask the city’s permission. They are doing everything possible to assist the current tenants while Mira Development is again taking the money and running. Yet Mira isn’t being criticized UMass Lowell is.

Be upset the law allows it or be happy a Fire ravaged eyesore was restored and the city looks better because the government offered assistance to make that happen.

It seems some in this city want the state and Feds to offer incentives, want private developers to redevelop these buildings but want to whine and complain when those developers follow the law and make a profit by selling the development to a State agency.

I cannot find any story that indicates the City granted a tiff to Mera when the redevelopment was being done but will ask City Hall tomorrow. There is some conspiracy theory being floated that the city is hiding it.

Wellman Ave Multi – Family Development Fiscal Impact

Included in the Council Packet is a report that shows the City would gain more revenue from a housing development compared to a commercial building development. Here’s the summary:



There is $1,048,441 in transfer request to cover debt service cost of refunding along with a smaller transfer to cover payroll cost.


I wasn’t clear on the reasons for the transfers but CFO Connor Baldwin was kind enough to explain it to me.

Thanks for the questions. There is a brief explanation included as a memorandum with the vote on each. The refunding was part of the $39 million bond issue we sold back in the fall. The bonds being refunded were issued for sewer, wastewater treatment facility, urban renewal/housing and various school projects. Because of the magnitude of the premium the City received upon delivery of the Bonds, we ended up structuring the refunding bonds such that the City would not realize any savings in this fiscal year (FY2016) so that the assumption on the City’s tax recap regarding MSBA receipts did not need to change. In order for the savings cash flow to be positive in every year of the refunding, the City needed to make a cash contribution to the refunding escrow at the bond, which was in addition to the amounts budgeted for debt service. However, this was an opportunity for savings that we could not forego.

The year-end payroll transfers occur each year around this time. As you stated, the Manager has settled most contracts with a 0/3/3 structure, with no raises in the first year (FY16). However because the budget is so tight, each year there are times when situations occur that result in overages in the salary accounts, such as employees leaving the city and we must payout their vacation time from within their department payroll account, among others. We do not build in much of a “cushion” in departmental payroll accounts so that we can keep the need to rely on the tax levy low and hold the line on residential and commercial taxes. Because in other departments we accumulate a surplus from the Administration’s initiative to hold back on hiring through the vacancy review committee, we are able to absorb those overages from within the overall approved budget. To balance the accounts, however, requires a vote of the City Council because the monies will be moving between statutory appropriations. The departments and details are listed in this week’s package.

School Waitlist Information
Is now on-line and available. The list is 71 pages with a big wait for the Pynes and the Daley but you need to know your students LASID to be able to figure out where your child is on the list.

Lowell Public Schools Offers School Choice in Grades 9-12 at Lowell High School for 2016-2017

Okay that’s nice but will the students who are already attending the High School who live outside the district be automatically returned or do they have to reapply and have they been told that?

The application deadline is Friday, July 8, 2016 at 3:00 p.m. A lottery will be held on Monday, July 11, 2016 if there are over 30 applicants and parents will be notified by Friday, July 15, 2016 of their child’s status.

Applications and additional information about School Choice may be obtained online on the Lowell Public Schools Homepage

Summer Sessions
The City Council meets twice a month through September while the next School Committee meeting isn’t until July 20th.

All these “Contributions ” also have a direct benefit to the University as well.

Yesterday when I posted the contributions from UMass Lowell Councilor Dan Rourke tweeted the above. While he may be correct that it benefits the college it also saved the city $7.52 million dollars and in my view it is a prime example of the attitude of many elected officials here in Lowell. No matter what ULOWELL does it isn’t enough unless they just give the city money so the city can spend it how they see fit.

The State pays over 80% of the cost of public education here in Lowell. We receive a generous amount of local aid, we receive many grants for structural improvements for the redevelopment of the Hamilton Canal and redevelopment of the Lord Overpass and ULowell showed again yesterday in my post what they contribute over and above that. ULowell is the STATE! The money comes from the same people,entity accounts controlled by the State Government. When will councilor’s stop complaining about the college?

What’s next, after th State builds a new courthouse in the Hamilton Canal, Councilor’s complain the judiciary doesn’t pay a Pilot?

Here’s UMass Lowell contributions, find me any non-profit in this city that has contributed more than the University! and UMass isn’t a non-profit, they are a STATE Agency!

University Contributions to Construction, Infrastructure and Other Projects:
 Recent commitments totaling $7.52 million in saved costs for the city:

o $150,000 annually for 20 years to support Canal Bridge TIGER Grant match; significant staff time and consultant costs to enable City to win $13.4M grant
o $80,000 annually for 20 years to support Lower Locks Garage repair project
o $75,000 in direct funding for the joint city/UMass Lowell/Lowell Plan marketing campaign;
$100,000 in in-kind creative, media planning, and media buying services
o $820,000 to reconstruct the Broadway and Wilder Streets intersection
o $900,000 to reconstruct the Broadway and Pawtucket Streets intersection
o $150,000 to construct new sidewalks on Whiting Street, Perkins Street, and Pawtucket Street near Fox Hall
o $200,000 for new streetlights and sidewalks around University Crossing
o $200,000 for new streetlights and sidewalks around University Suites
o $200,000 to replace a city water main near the North Campus Garage
o $60,000 for city water main repairs near University Crossing
o $80,000 for utility work at the University Avenue and Riverside Street intersection
o $60,000 for Pawtucket Street Corridor Planning Study (includes $20,000 grant obtained by UMass Lowell and $40,000 in campus funding)
o $65,000 for Wilder Street and Broadway repaving (beyond limits of UMass Lowell construction)
o $10,000 to repair the Pawtucket Prism public art sculpture