Happy Spring—finally! Here is what is going on in Newtonville and beyond.
 
Budget
On May 18 the City Council unanimously approved the FY17 Budget of $442,144,786. Committee reports of each departmental budget can be found here. Our unfunded liabilities continue to be a concern; from the Comptroller Budget report:
The  Committee  discussed the pension and Other Post-Employment Benefit (OPEB) liabilities funding. The return on investments for the  pension  funding fell short of the estimated number. Therefore, if the Retirement Board wishes to stay on the funding schedule, there will need to be a contribution  of close to 23 million this year. Funding the pension liabilities by 2029 is going to be a challenge but if the City manages to fund it, the OPEB liability funding will fall in place. The City’s OPEB Trust Fund balance is $3.1 million and the actuarial accrued liability is $703.6 million. The OPEB actuary has determined that the cost of funding the OPEB benefits for FY 207 is $73.7 million resulting in a shortfall of  $70 million in funding  next fiscal year. The Committee will be discussing both the pension and OPEB funding in the near future. 
 
Orr Project Hearing June 7
The developer that has purchased properties on the “Orr block” at the corner of Washington and Walnut Streets has filed for a special permit to construct a five-story, 171-unit, mixed-use development.  Here is the story in last week’s Newton Tab. Visit this page for project documents and updates. The first public hearing will be held Tuesday, June 7 at 7PM at Newton City Hall.
 
Charter Commission
As I reported last month, the Charter Commission voted to reduce the size of the City Council from 24 to 13 members, and to eliminate Ward Councilors (i.e. my seat). Since then they have also voted to institute term limits. I already reported why I think eliminating Ward Councilors is a terrible idea. I also think eliminating term limits is a bad idea, as that will just empower the mayor, as his or her staff will be the ones with the institutional memory, and as it is we have a strong mayor system in Newton. In addition I believe the way the Charter Commission wants to downsize the Council is problematic--they would keep 8 at-large councilors elected from within the 8 wards, and the additional 5 at-large councilors would be elected from anywhere in the City. I believe the chances are strong those five would come from the more politically active and affluent areas of the City. Do we really want a City Council dominated by Newton Center and Waban? Nothing against those areas of the City, but I don't see how that is better than what we have now, where all villages have equal voice. See this email to the Charter Commission from Ward 7 at-large Councilor Marc Laredo for additional points.

Click here to watch an episode of Newton Newsmakers which covered this topic - Charlie Shapiro is the host, and I was a guest along with Councilor Dick Blazar, former alderman & State Rep. Peter Harrington, and Newton Center resident Lisa Gordon.

The Charter Commission is holding a public hearing Wed. June 1 at 7PM at City Hall to get your feedback on the votes they have taken to date. And of course, you will have the opportunity to vote on their entire package in November 2017.

Cabot School
A Cabot School Working Group meeting was held last Monday. The presentation given can be viewed here. The working group reviewed the plans and asked the design team to further develop plan B4. The Cabot School Building Committee will meet June 2nd at 6PM at 100 Walnut Street.

Memorial Day Parade
The Memorial Day parade is this coming Sunday - yes it's on the actual weekend of Memorial Day, unlike in years past when it was the weekend before. Here is the flyer - there are a lot of activities for kids AND adults, hope to see you there.
 
Newton Fire Department is Class 1
The Newton Fire Department has been rated a Class 1 agency, the highest possible ranking, from the Insurance Service Organization (ISO).  Of 47,000 fire departments graded nationwide, fewer than 200 receive a Class 1 rating.  This is a testament to the leadership of our Department under Chief Bruce Proia, and should also be good news for homeowners via lower insurance rates. See Chief Proia’s statement here.
 
Lead Found in Burr School Water
The Mayor’s office reported that water supplies at all Newton schools were tested for lead levels, and water at Burr Elementary showed elevated levels.  As there are no lead pipes at the school, at this time the cause of the lead is still being investigated.
 
Big Belly trash/recycling bins
You may have noticed that trash and recycling bins have been removed from locations that used to have them. In many locations they have been replaced by “Big Belly” trash and recycling bins that can hold much more volume. Another benefit of the Big Belly’s is they are equipped with GPS that communicate to DPW when they’re full. So staff no longer need to drive by each bin location to see if bins are in need of being emptied, they’ll know in real time from an app.
 
Some locations had trash bins removed and do not have a Big Belly however, and many have pointed out that some of these locations are along dog walking routes, meaning dog walkers have nowhere to deposit dog waste bags. The City is in the process of ordering special pet waste receptacles for numerous such locations, and I appreciate those who have told me specific locations you think they should be installed; I have communicated those locations to the Parks & Rec Commissioner.
 

Tour de Newton June 19

The Tour de Newton is only a few weeks away! Volunteer greeters sought, see here for more details.

 Office Hours
My office hours take place the last Friday of the month, 9-10am, at the Newton Senior Center, 345 Walnut St. in Newtonville. I will be there this Friday May 27th, I hope to see you there.

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Contact Emily

Email: emily@emilynorton.org

Phone:  617-795-0362
Cell:  508-397-6839

www.emilynorton.org

Councilor Emily Norton
58 Prescott Street
Newton, Massachusetts 02460

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Contact Emily

Email: emily@emilynorton.org

Phone:  617-795-0362
Cell:  508-397-6839

www.emilynorton.org

Councilor Emily Norton
58 Prescott Street
Newton, Massachusetts 02460

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