Governor Patrick’s “Town Meeting” last night at City Hall was very well attended and encompassed numerous provocative questions and discussions. The governor does a very good job of creating a relaxed atmosphere; he is straight forward with his answers and is not afraid to challenge the audience to think about issues from both sides. There were at least four members of his cabinet in attendance and they assisted in answering questions from the audience…again a commendable trait, giving up the floor to someone who has the knowledge to answer questions. As a municipal administrator it was interesting to listen to the requests for the governor to restore funding for many programs from services to the persons with disabilities, to special education, to local police funding, to concerns about the animals at zoos. It is also as interesting to witness the overwhelming desire not to raise taxes. The reality is that budgets must be balanced and that can be done with decrease in costs or increases in revenues or as in most cases a combination of both. During this very compromising economic time, it is difficult to raise revenues without additional taxes, and it is equally as difficult to cut services in times when they are most needed. In Newburyport we have had a decrease in revenues, but our employees have agreed to concessions especially with health care insurance that has allowed us to maintain almost all essential services to the level we have provided for the past three years.
Laurie Burt, Commissioner of Department of Environmental Protection, and her staff spent most the day in on Tuesday viewing the landfill and speaking with neighbors and concerned citizens about the landfill and the process to complete closure of this site. The city maintains staff at the landfill each day to inspect the truck loads of construction and demolition materials that are brought to the site. The DEP will begin to employee additional staff to inspect the operation of the landfill on a daily bases. The City efforts will be to make certain that the material brought to the site is proper material and it is mixed with soil and covered each day. The DEP staff will monitor the flare, leachate, air quality and nuisance odors. The combined effort should insure a timely and proper closing of the landfill. This is a goal I have given my top priority; I have lived with this project for my fours years as mayor and do not wish to turn this problem over to a new administration.
Just a note on Yankee Homecoming; I hope you all take advantage of the many events that happen next week. People and organizations expend a great deal of time and resources to make this an enjoyable week. I have always enjoyed this festival. There will be Fireworks (weather permitting) the committee has received increased donations in the last week so we are looking forward to another great display.