Mayor Carlo DeMaria used Monday night’s State of the City address to highlight his successes and boldly set the course for the next five years by outlining his plans, hopes and dreams for the city of Everett.
He talked about jobs and economic development, and though he of course mentioned the proposal to build a resort casino on the former Monsanto Chemical site, he did not cite the Wynn development as the only option for bringing jobs to Everett or improving the city’s long-term fiscal health.
“Everett is starting to get noticed as a business friendly city,” the Mayor proclaimed, quoting a state official with the Massachusetts Office of Business Development.
He talked about the Lower Broadway Master Plan, the Parkway Overlay District and the latest RFP (request for proposals) to redevelop the old high school building on Broadway and he noted that all of these plans and projects are part of an overall goal of improving the quality of the city’s commercial base.
From there, the Mayor highlighted important initiatives in local public health, inspectional services and public safety as the backbone of improving quality of life in Everett and mentioned programs aimed at helping homeowners who are financially eligible, obtain the funding they need to complete needed repairs on their homes.
“These improvements not only benefit the homeowner, but also the neighborhoods,” noted the Mayor. “ If we all take pride in our homes, if we all invest just a little bit, we make Everett a better place and our neighbors take notice. I know that pride is contagious.”
The mayor also referenced the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP)undertaken in collaboration with the city council, which included large projects like Glendale Park, The Shute Library, Madeline English Park and the Parlin School as well as the city’s water meter project and numerous street and sidewalk repairs.
“Building on the success of last year’s Capital Improvement Plan, we have recently submitted our plan for 2014,” said DeMaria. “In this plan we are focusing on asset preservation, replacement of essential apparatus and continued improvement of city infrastructure.”
The FY 2014 CIP will be publicly heard tonight (Wednesday, March 27) before the city council.
Lastly, the Mayor discussed the financial management of the past year, which led to not only the aforementioned Capital Improvement Plan, but a nearly $5 million free cash estimate for the 2014 budget.
“Through sound fiscal management, the administration spent nearly a million dollars less than they were budgeted in the last fiscal year,” noted DeMaria. “Diligent collections led to a million dollar increase in anticipated revenues, and our tax title attorneys collected an additional one million dollars in past due taxes. . .We saved 1.1 million dollars in our stabilization fund, the city’s saving account, keeping the balance over ten million dollars. And we kept the tax levy $1.4 million dollars below the limit, which saved the average family 145 dollars.”
He also discussed the need to alleviate the burden on single-family taxpayers, by adopting the 30-percent homeowner exemption for residential property owners in single-family homes.
“Our future is about Pride and Progress and Possibility,” noted the Mayor. “I am proud of Everett. I am proud of our long history, of who we have been. I am proud of who we are now, and the progress we have shown. I am proud that Moody’s thinks well of our future. I am proud that the State Office of Business Development thinks well of our future. I am proud that companies are moving into Everett and recognizing our potential, and I am proud that we have laid the groundwork for our future success with the Lower Broadway master plan. . . I am proud of the possibilities before us, proud of who we can be. And, I hope you are too.”