SUN / DAVID H. BROW GLOWING IN HOLIDAY HARMONY: The decorated smokestack on Wannalancit Mill in Lowell overlooks the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church
Happy Day After, yesterday’s Sun was pretty quiet although they did have one of the best front page pictures I have seen on Christmas by photographer DAVID H. BROW (above)
Jen Myers had a very nice tribute to outgoing Councilor Bud Caulfield and the Sun gave out their annual Christmas Gifts to some local pols, my 2 favorites of the group:
FOR LOWELL School Committee member Jim Leary: A full- color John Leahy cardboard cutout so he isn’t quite so lonely when the dynamic duo are separated come January.
FOR CITY Councilor Rodney Elliott: A Fisher Price gavel set, so he can play mayor at home
Pick up or subscribe to the only regional newspaper that covers the Lowell/Dracut area daily. The SUN.
I spent some time Saturday afternoon reading over the LHA / City of Lowell 1938 Agreement and especially Section 16 which states:
The City agrees to waive such building and inspectional fees as might be payable by the Authority if it is or becomes subject to the payment of such fees, and agrees to make such exceptions from building regulations and ordinances as are found by the Authority to be necessary in the development of the project.
Many may say that a local authority or Manager of a City can’t make such agreements lawfully but I always point out that in creation of a Regional Technical School the largest community often is limited to representation (often less than that the law requires) so as to not have an unfair advantage in running the school. That is why Lowell can never have more reps that the combined totals of all the other communities.
IF the LHA was frustrated with their dealings with Camacho and proceeded to do remodeling and close up units uninspected claiming they could be this agreement until such time a court or state agency ruled otherwise, you can understand their logic.
It wasn’t until THIS city Manager worked out an agreement did they start to pay fees and it wasn’t until after his employment with the city that Mr. Camacho reported LHA employee to the state for failure to get permits and inspections for work done during the 2008/9 timeframe. The result of this reporting was a reprimand to that LHA employee and a ruling that permits and inspections were required.
However in reading this agreement there are 2 other items that caught my eye and ones that I will seek answers to. One calls for the LHA to make a Payment In Lieu of Taxes so I wonder if they still do that and if so how much does the city receive?
Secondly and more interesting (especially to downtown residence and John McDonough) the agreement states in part that: (my summary)
” The city will furnish the tenants with the same municipal service without cost or charge that the city provides other residence including police and fire protection, snow removal, garbage,trash and ash collection and disposal”
If each resident throughout the city pays an annual trash fee per household then why doesn’t the city begin a trash fee for the LHA or make them get their trash picked up separately like the downtown residence have too?
If we can negotiate the fee for building permits why can’t we negotiate a fee for trash pick-up? Fair is fair.
Dracut School Budget
The Sun and my friend Shawn seemed to have focused on bashing the messenger than focusing on the message when it comes to the Dracut School Budget Issue.
The Sun had the headline “Zimini hit over layoffs warning” stating in the first line of the story ” School officials blasted Selectman John Zimini yesterday for claiming teachers could lose their jobs during the current school year, saying his warning amounts to a nasty lump of coal right before Christmas.”
However they followed with the news direct from Supt. Stacey Scott that says he is:
” considering cutting five positions — two teachers and three support staff — to help eliminate a projected $197,000 budget shortfall before the end of the fiscal year.”
The night before Dr. Mike McNamara stated in part of an email response to me regarding the budget issue
“As recent as yesterday (Dec. 22), we met for well over two hours in a posted meeting for the purpose of bringing clarity to the current status of the DPS budget. We received assurances from Dr. Scott and Business Manager Tom Rose that there will be no deficit on June 30. Both Mr. Sheehan and I stated that nothing less would be acceptable. On Thursday, Dr. Scott provided all SC members with a two page plan indicating a current deficit of $77k
So apparently right now Mr. Zimini is correct. Dr Scott told Dr. Mike the deficit is now $77K while he told the Sun it was projected to be $197,000. In the newspaper Dr. Mike said” he and Sheehan instructed Scott to close the budget gap without layoffs.” but Scott contradicts that by talking about layoffs.
The rumors have been flying for weeks and even Shawn admits ” All the numbers in the story seem similar to what I had heard. A shortage has now come up, and the finance committee and Superintendent are working out how to handle it.”
Mr. Z said he heard it was $400,00 he NEVER claimed it was $800,000. That came from me after talking with other people while Mr. Z and Bond were on air still. Rumors have been around for weeks and it is NOT all from one side, Even people who like Dr. Scott are concerned and many figure that Tom Rose who Dr. Scott kept over from the Spencer Mullin era will be made a scapegoat along with some “unforseen” Special Education cost that will be blamed for the shortfall.
It should also be noted that Mr. Z stated he was speaking as a Dracut Taxpayer NOT as an Elected Official something Shawn cheers Selectman Cox for doing regularly.
This isn’t about politics it is about warning of a potential shortfall and about what actions this school committee will take to insure it will not happen? Dr Scott is quoted using 2 different numbers regarding the shortfall. Is it the $77K he told Dr. Mike or the $197K he told the SUN? Will he follow through on the layoffs he mentioned to the Sun or will he follow the instructions of the school committee and not layoff and not have a shortfall?
Only time will tell but don’t shoot the messenger for stating what appears to be facts just because you want to say that at Christmas we should ignore bad news or you don’t like a certain politician. (Even I give Rodney props on occasion.) Facts are facts and there appears to be a shortfall somewhere between $77K and $194K and that is with 6 months left in the school year.
With a potential layoff possible according to the Supt. in the SUN and a current shortfall that all agree exist was the China trip and the proposal of new courses really the best thing for the Dracut School System?
a couple final things….
Merry Christmas, Happy New year and wishes that you all are feeling better to my friends Jerry and Mickey Dumont, hope Jerry is recovering from his fall earlier this year, John MacDonald has he gets over pneumonia and State Rep. Colleen Garry who has also been under the weather and had a health scare earlier this month. May 2012 find you all in good health.
Best wishes for a healthy New Year to Dracut Town Clerk Kathy Graham’s mom. Is their a sweeter,nicer person than Kathy Graham?
Romano’s Pizza in Dracut will be celebrating 20 years in business this coming year and in celebration of that they are offering a 50% discount on their Pizza if it is eaten in their dining room (play Keno, have a beer or glass of wine and talk with friends) and free fries and a soft drink with any sub.