By: Joe Mendonca, Lowell City Council
The New Year has begun. The new City Council has been sworn-in. Jim Milinazzo was elected as the Mayor and Kevin Broderick was elected as the Vice-Chairman of the Council. Now the work begins.
There are many challenges ahead for the new Council. The largest challenge will be the creation of an FY2011 budget. The word from the State is that revenues have continued to fall – that cities and towns should anticipate receiving less local aid. It seems that even level funding would be too much to ask for. That sets the stage for further budget cuts as fixed costs (utilities & health care) continue to rise.
While preparing the next budget, the new council will have to deal with the ramifications of the personnel reductions in the current budget. As the snow melts in the spring will the pot-holes be taken care of as in the past? Will our Parks Department be able to prepare all of our parks for spring and summer activities? Does the City have the resources in Inspectional Services to deal with the code violations in many of the City’s neighborhoods? Our neighborhood groups are doing their part. Can we provide them the support that is needed?
As we move forward, we have to realize that the City’s resources are limited – that the City can not provide all things to all the people. The residents of the City will have to do their part by helping to keep the areas around their properties clean and presentable, keeping our parks litter free, and reporting code violations and other illegal activities promptly.
On the other hand, a smaller government will be less of a burden on the taxpayers – to both residents and businesses. This will make new developments more attractive to new residents and businesses that are considering moving to the City. These new developments will further spread the burden and in that way we all benefit.
Looking ahead, there is reason for optimism and hope. There is much going on in the City in spite of the economic downturn. If we move forward wisely, we can position the City for future growth – new businesses and new jobs.
Working together, we can surmount these challenges and come out the other end as a stronger City that is better positioned to meet its future.
Joe Mendonca is a newly elected city councilor in Lowell. He is a former Lowell School Committeeman (1999 – 2006) and former Lowell City Councillor (2007) who is familiar with Lowell’s City and School Department Budgets.