Getting ready for future challenges


By: Joe Mendonca – February, 2010

The City Manager has begun to reorganize city government. The first change was to replace the Building Commissioner as the beginning of restoring integrity to the City’s Inspectional Services. The Manager appointed Rosemary Cashman (former Tyngsboro Town Administrator) as Interim Building Commissioner while a search is conducted for a new Building Commissioner that should be completed within 3 months.

The City Manager has also appointed Henri Marchand as the Assistant to the City Manager after the City Council restored funding for the position. One of Henri’s roles will be to seek out greater efficiencies in City government. In addition to addressing complex constituent issues, he will research CitiStat tools for gathering and analyzing data – again with an eye towards achieving more effective and efficient City government. Henri will begin his new job on February 8th.

As a result of a motion passed by the City Council, the City Manager will be establishing the Neighborhood Improvement Advisory Committee comprised of representatives of all the established neighborhood groups and other stake holders. The committee will meet periodically to discuss the issues that need to be addressed throughout the City, prioritize the issues and bring them to the attention of the City to be addressed. The committee’s mission will be to focus on issues that can be addressed with existing City ordinances and resources. The committee should have its first meeting in February.

With the release of the Governor’s budget in the last week of January, the FY2011 budget development process begins. While the Governor’s budget projects both Chapter 70 school aid and local aid at 2010 levels, local taxes would still have to be raised to cover the increased utility, health insurance, and compensation costs that occur even without negotiated raises. Indications from the Legislature are that this scenario may be too optimistic. Either way, we have to be ever vigilant with City spending to minimize the burden on our residents who are still feeling the pain of the economic downturn.

With the above support in place and with the exception of the FY2011 budget development, our focus needs to turn to economic development. We need to work to make Lowell a place that is attractive for businesses to create new jobs or for businesses to relocate to the City. We need to have an attractive environment for any offshoot of University research to incubate and grow in the City.

With the redevelopment of the Hamilton Canal District under way and without detracting from those efforts, we need to look beyond the JAM area – both physically and in time. Just as the old adage implores us not to put all our eggs in one basket, we must not rely on any single path to success. We must explore other paths and in some cases create new paths. We must continue our efforts until a time when there is full employment in the region.