LAWRENCE (February 22, 2023) Mayor Brian A. DePeña gave his 2nd State of the City Address, alongside members of the Lawrence State Delegation, and members of the community.
Mayor DePeña gave an update on the issues facing the City of Lawrence, along with his early priorities and efforts to address them, in remarks given directly to the City Council and to the people of Lawrence.
“I am proud to say that this is an exciting time for Lawrence because of the many great things we have accomplished in just one year. However, there is still much work to be done. I want to thank all the members of the Lawrence City Council, State Representatives, and members of the public for attending my address, said Mayor DePeña.”
It is an honor to be with you tonight to share my State of the City address. This is my second speech. Like other cities in the country, we enter this New Year with the highest inflation in 40 years and a senseless war between Russia and Ukraine that makes matters worse.
But I’m not here to talk about how these problems are affecting us. I am here to let you know how my administration will face and overcome our challenges and obstacles to continue raising our city to a higher standard of living.
We, the people of the City of Lawrence, are working diligently to achieve a prosperous, safe, innovative, green, and attractive city not only to live, work and invest in but also to be admired.
Lawrence City Government is committed to delivering quality public services in a timely and competent manner and to working cooperatively with our federal and state legislators, community leaders, stakeholders, and citizens to create a safer and more progressive Lawrence where people can live, work, study, and invest.
We are placing our economic development, public safety, infrastructure, education, fiscal management, government transparency, quality of life, and social justice at the top of our government agenda, to not only embody the belief that all residents should have the opportunity to be part of our new prosperity plan but also serves as a progressive beacon for the Commonwealth and the nation.
The state of our city has never been stronger. Together, we have made Lawrence a safer, healthier, more dynamic, productive, and more inclusive city than it has ever been. This progress is felt in every neighborhood and is recognized throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. We are restoring faith in government in many ways by managing taxpayer money wisely, smartly, and responsibly.
We believe in a government that can be trusted. This year of strong fiscal management has helped us earn a perfect “ to A+ bond rating. The City’s ‘free cash reserves as of July 1, 2022, were $43 million, the highest in the city’s history. We also reduced $4 million dollars to the deficit that the city had in recent years, which helped us alleviate the costs of the construction increases and investments that the city is making.
Thanks to this positive indicator, we ask the City Council to approve $16 million to invest in the people of Lawrence with the approval of the City Council to improve the quality of life for all our residents.
Ladies and gentlemen, because the people are at the center of my government, we, with the approval of our City Council, are going to take care of our people by investing in our priorities: housing assistance, family services, youth development, infrastructure (streets and sidewalks), energy efficiency, green spaces, immigration services, ESOL classes, early education, public health, senior services, public safety, city employees, and veteran’s services.
We have secured appropriate funding and support to help our small businesses and entrepreneurs. Thanks to your support we were able to put up $5 million for a large number of street and sidewalk repairs, parks, and the beautification of the city in a historic way.
At the beginning of our administration, we provided our Police Officers with the largest number of patrol vehicles for surveillance in our city, all equipped with the most up-to-date technology, which allows us to identify any situation while these officers are on duty; furthermore, we have ensured continuous recruitment of new officers all residents of the City of Lawrence.
Furthermore, we have made sure to create the necessary conditions for the construction of two New Elementary Schools, these being the most modern to date in the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The construction of a building for the new Police Station positioned itself as one of the most modern and best-equipped in the entire Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Also, the remodeling and lighting of all our parks. We have ordered the largest investment to beautify the entire city, including all its entrances. Repairs to all public parking lots, more equipment for the Department of Public Works, as well as adding more human personnel, to this department.
We have completed the repair of the old roof that the City Hall had, as well as the acquisition of a new elevator. We placed a constituent services aide, during office hours.
Through the efficiency of our tax collection offices, we have managed to make wise investments in all these resources obtained thanks to their efforts.
We have now a favorable contract for the city from recent past months for a new garbage collector company, which has provided excellent service to our constituents.
The placement of new and modern parking meters to provide a solution to the claim of business owners and residents, ensuring more frequent parking in the city.
We will spend these taxes on repairs of streets, sidewalks, and traffic signals in our city.
To accomplish these efforts, I have directed the creation of a special task force to make recommendations for the best use of ARPA funds, now in our free cash.
We’re allocating more than $16 million to seven priority categories;
• Health and Human Services: $2,900,000
• Art and Culture: $1,000,000
• Parks and Recreation: $1,400,000
– Housing Assistance: $5,674.052
• Economic Development: $5,650,000
• Community Security Initiative: $1,000,000
• Disclosure, Advertising, and Technology: $1,550,000
• HOUSING: $3,174,052
Additionally, we are putting funds into the following:
• Infrastructure (streets, sidewalks): $5,000,000
Building on our strong fiscal management, open government, the support of local, state, and federal elected officials, and the community at large, we will continue to raise our city to a higher standard of living. With this in mind, I assure you that Lawrence will continue to be a great place to live, study, work, and invest.
My fellow Lawrence residents, I would like to take this opportunity to THANK YOU for placing your trust in me. Remember, we are one Lawrence, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.
Thank you, and God bless Lawrence and God bless The United States of America! ◊