Mayor Patrick Murphy is not off to a good start into his Mayoral term. He has alienated the longest serving Councilor(and perennial TOP VOTE getter) Rita Mercier, continues his battle with Councilor Rodney Elliot, is always fighting with the Lowell Sun and now the administration of Manager Lynch is slapping down one of his pet projects
If you recall the Mayor made the following motion with Councilor Nuon.
“Req. Mgr. explore a Percent for the Arts policy and other ways to encourage public art throughout the city.”
The motion passed but the Manager is coming back tomorrow night with this response:(Bold Mine)
“Percent for Art” programs have proven themselves to be effective vehicles for financing public art nationwide in two contexts. Many state governments and some cities have established programs of this nature which require a portion of the construction budget (typically 1% or 0.5%) for public capital projects be used for public art. Under these programs, public facilities ranging from educational buildings to courthouses to wastewater treatment plants incorporate art into their designs in a manner which lends visual interest and/or creative public engagement to projects that might otherwise be bland government facilities.
The second type of program is prevalent in strong real estate markets as a form of exaction of public benefit from otherwise profitable private real estate development projects.
Places like Cambridge, MA or the more prosperous parts of Boston are able to divert a portion of the profits from developments in their communities to various linkage funds, including the arts.
As in many gateway cities, real estate economics in Lowell make these types of linkage programs more difficult to enact. Most of the more significant and expensive development projects in Lowell require some or often multiple layers of public subsidy just to close the gap between the costs of construction and the economic returns that the market will provide.
Adding a linkage program generally would simply mean that the gap that must be subsidized would increase by the value of the contribution to the arts or other linkage benefit.
In some cases that may still make sense because it might be easier to finance public art as part of subsidizing a development deal than on its own. However, in many cases, this may simply make the development deals that much harder to make happen at all.
DPD would not recommend adopting an unconditional arts linkage requirement for development projects.
Instead, if the City Council wishes to pursue a “percent for art” program, it might be appropriate for the Council to adopt a policy directive that developers be asked to identify ways to incorporate public art into their projects to whatever extent is feasible with a target value of 0.5% of the construction cost.
The Council might also consider establishing a similar guideline for larger municipal capital projects.
GN: Speaking of Cambridge I found this note in their 2012/2013 Budget proposal very Interesting:
In FY13, non-union City and School employees and one settled collective bargaining unit will increase their health insurance contribution percentage from 18% to 20% in exchange for an additional .6% increase in salary over the scheduled 2.5% increase.
In addition, effective September 2011, new non-union City and School employees and employees of some collective bargaining units which have settled have begun to contribute 25% towards their insurance costs.