Posted by Jeremy Shulkin
The tax rate debate starts tonight. All the reason you need to tune in via Cover It Live or on TV. (Or just read about it here tomorrow.) See you at 7:00.
*Links are fixed (7:08)
7:08: M.O’Brien and Father McFarland are announcing the details of their plan. “The steps taken have marked improvement over the last three years. The final and most difficult steps remain…Father and I have worked side by side during this entire period.”
It’s called Holy Cross Community Compact. “The agreement addresses systemic issues” like large unpermitted gatherings in public places and involves the Worcester Police Dept. more heavily. All reports of violations will be forwarded to the Chief of police. He says this partnership shows a renewed sense of respect and teamwork between the city and Holy Cross. M.O’Brien thanks McFarland for his work on the pact.
7:12: M.O’Brien apologizes for speaking out on the council floor a couple weeks ago, saying “cooler heads must prevail.”
7:13: Father McFarland thanks M.O’Brien and the council. “In addition to educating students academically, we do all the time focus on the whole person.” He points out Haller and Clancy for being involved for such a long time. “We’ve made a great deal of progress, as has been recognized…we know there are problems. I suppose there always will be.”
“As I come here I bring with me the support of the entire faculty and student body.”
7:16: J.O’Brien reads a statement thanking Father McFarland and praises Holy Cross for attracting talent from around the country and been “an incubator for innovative ideas.” He calls this an historic agreement, and praises Father McFarland for standing “shoulder to shoulder” with M. O’Brien and addressing these issues in front of the council. He points out Holy Cross’ work within the community too. The compact is sent to the committee for public safety.
No comments from the councilors. Right back to the regular agenda.
7:18: M.O’Brien addresses the WRTA. Contract terms have been reached today (they met with a mediator today). No details will be released until Friday, when the union will vote on/ratify the new contract. Lots of Amalgamated Transit Workers here in the seats, but they left after the WRTA contract was brought up. No one spoke on it.
7:25: Mr. Carrol praises the council’s vote to “establish a new City Council Standing Committee to be named “Veterans and Military Affairs.” He says this shows the city supports veterans. He says that veterans today are never far away from war, as they return to tours after six months, and they’re never completely away from it when they’re home. “You’re doing the right thing by voting this through.”
7:28: Here comes the dual tax rate discussion. Lukes: “We are in a sustained economic discussion.” She wants to look at shifting the tax rate to ease the burden on commerce, but wants to find a way to even it out without taking money away from the homeowners. She cites the bad fiscal outlook for next year that M.O’Brien talked about in the paper earlier this week. “Given the constraints of the budget I’m not sure we can find a reasonable compromise without shifting the burden.” She says home foreclosures are high and “I do not want to add to (homeowner’s) problems.”
7:31: M.O’Brien says the vote on this will come sometime in December, before Christmas.
7:32: Clancy and Zidelis try to hammer out a date where tax classifications will come out. Clancy wants to vote on it on Dec. 14. Clancy wants to know that since we’re going up $2 mil this year, could people actually pay less on taxes this year if the lowest rate is voted in. Zidelis says “shooting from the hip, probably not.” Councilors want a list of the top 25-50 taxpayers. Clancy wants the collective % they pay on the commercial rate.
7:38: Tina Hood is here to talk about making drastic cuts. She says citizens are making cuts. So are her employers. She wants a 10-20% cut across the board in expenditures. “It’s about time you guys started doing that. You guys spend willy-nilly.”
J.O’Brien clarifies that setting the tax rate is a separate discussion from appropriating the budget. But he appreciates her comments.
7:41: Kate Toomey refers the motion to build a statue to Tobias Boland in the Canal District area to traffic and parking. There’s some discussion about city regulations, where statues/squares can only be named after veterans who died in service. That’s going to be looked at as well.
7:45: Banning Four Loko comes up. There shouldn’t be discussion on this because the state already banned it last week. Rushton says “it’s been a week that we put this together and the next day they banned it, then the WRTA contract was settled, then Father McFarland the and City Manager come together.” He adds that he’s going to ask for Holy Cross to join the Big East.
7:46: Palmieri still wants to talk about the adverse health effects that come from drinking Four Loko. He wants professionals “to give us a real understanding…an in-depth discussion about it.”
Toomey wants to expand it beyond Four Loko to other brands that similarly mix caffeine and alcohol. She wants to find out what the impact is when people mix Jack and Coke, or vodka and Red Bull. “It’s the same thing.”
7:50: Lukes says these bans “can be carried on to extremes.” It won’t solve the problem. She says it’s about college students using alcohol to “reach a certain state of mind…our war on drugs is a good example of how unsuccessful our country has been (in policing drug use).” She doesn’t support prohibition.
The council votes to ban Four Loko.
7:52: Lukes says that if the public wants to know how expenditures are dealt with, in reference to Hood, (who’s still here) she points out the line in the Manager’s report that says “this will be the third year of significant cuts.” Lukes points out there will be/have been reductions in staff. To prevent budget from going up you have to cut people — this is the difficult decision. “It looks like we’re going in that direction.”
That’s the end of the agenda. Under suspension Lukes wants a report about voting procedures, referencing an article in the paper about accusations of voter fraud. Toomey wants a report on court proceedings from the visitor’s center fire.
7:57: The council wishes everyone a happy Thanksgiving and adjourns super early!