I admit it! At quarter after Midnight, I finally left the marathon meeting of the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen. But, before I left, there was a whole lot that went down. For blow by blow details, check the Live Blog section of Oh My BLOG! at Girard at Large dot com.
Here are the highlights: The board unanimously passed the proposed contract between the city and the Association of Manchester School Principals. The agreement ties pay raises for the group to the increases in the city’s tax cap and significantly restructures the their health benefits, increasing deductibles, co-pays and premium sharing. Don’t cry for the principals, though. They still have a much better deal than just about anyone paying the taxes that fund them.
The board delved into questions surrounding the city’s bond rating, which was downgraded from Double A 1 to Double A 2. The tax cap took center stage in the discussion. Ward 7 Alderman Bill Shea noted the rating report cited the board’s spending of surplus funds rather than retaining them in the Rainy Day Fund and cautioned the board that there are sometimes consequences to its actions. Ward 1 Alderman Joyce Craig blamed the tax cap for quote forcing un quote the city to use surpluses and other reserves to maintain essential services. After making the point that Concord and Portsmouth have higher bond ratings and no tax cap, Alderman at Large Joe Kelly Levasseur just dismantled her asking whether or not Detroit had a tax cap and noting that there are a lot of cities without a cap that are in far worse shape than Manchester. Ward 10’s Phil Greazzo thinks the rating agency got it wrong. If they want to see spending on necessities and not niceties, he said, they should welcome the cap as it’s causing the board to make those tough decisions. Also addressed in the discussion was the city’s Recreation Enterprise, which in a wild revision of history, Alderman at Large Dan O’Neil called a financing scam that never worked, implemented just to fix a one year budget problem. But the man who hit the nail squarely on the head was Ward 3 Alderman Patrick Long. He was the only one to address the socioeconomic demographic issue raised by the report and said the city needed to be more careful about the type of housing it allowed to be built. Amen to that, Brotha! Oh, a little side note from this discussion is that the city’s contributory retirement system is one hundred million bucks in the hole, but they gave out pay increases to the pensioners last year anyway.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Continuing on last night’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Mayor Ted Gatsas nominated five people to serve on the city’s Conservation Commission. All five nominees were found by Alderman Long. Former Commission Chair Jane Beaulieu, who first blamed the Planning Department, then the Mayor for not knowing her term had expired was not nominated as a result of the city’s term limits. The potential development on Pearl Street Parking Lot ended with the board agreeing to issue a Request for Proposals to see what the private sector could do. It was a hotly contested issue that saw the board’s 8 to 6 vote to sell the lot to V M D Companies, who approached the city to build a student housing complex that would house up to twelve hundred college kids, was vetoed by Mayor Gatsas. The board also gave something of a hair cut to the ongoing work to develop the Bedford Street Parking Lot in the Millyard. Despite arguments saying the planning needed to continue to develop the details that would be included in an R F P, the board voted to stop the planning and issue an R F P. Problem is nobody knows what the city will be requesting proposals on or the time frame in which it will be done. In the balance hangs the development of parking all parties agree is needed if the growth of the Millyard is to continue. Oh my head…
If you think all of that was fun, you should’ve seen the brawl between Greazzo and Planning Director Leon LaFreniere over KC’s Rib Shack! Now that was fun! There was OOOHHH sooo much more and we’ll get to some of it during the show, like the pending workplace violence policy that would ban guns in city offices…
Finally this morning, the family and friends of the late former Ward 12 school board member and local businessman BJ Perry, Jr. will gather tonight at six o’clock at Chen Yang Li in Bedford to launch a foundation in his name. The foundation will provide scholarships and support educational efforts and intitiatives in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics. If you’d like to support the family’s effort to build this foundation, donations will be accepted at the door tonight. Hope to see you there.
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is straight ahead!