Watertown’s Budget Includes Study of Improving the Square, Rodent Control & Energy Efficiency

Watertown City Hall

City Manager George Proakis told the City Council that he believes that a key to getting the best bang for the buck in the City Budget is providing competitive salaries and benefits to employees. He also discussed some new initiatives planned to start in Fiscal Year 2024, including studies on Watertown Square, rodent control, and making the City’s buildings and vehicles more efficient. Revenues

The vast majority of Watertown’s budget comes from local real estate and personal property taxes. The City is forecast to collect $152 million in property taxes, which makes up about 80 percent of the $190 million Fiscal Year 2024 Budget. The City budget includes $15.9 million in State Aid, up $1.5 million from FY23.

Budget Forecast Good for 2024, but Manager Sees Gloomy Conditions in Future

Watertown’s budget will be healthy enough to add several positions in Fiscal Year 2024, but City Manager George Proakis told the City Council Tuesday night to expect some challenging budgets in the years to follow. The FY24 budget, which will be approved by the Council in June and begins July 1, will be $190 million. This is 5.9 percent below the FY23 budget, but Proakis said if you take out the money used to purchase Walkers Pond and the former Parker School, it would be 6.99 percent higher than FY23. The stormy seas ahead are due to five converging forces, Proakis said, and they could impact the budgets from FY25-28. The first factor is the cost of construction, which comes at a time when Watertown is taking on the biggest in its history: a new high school which will cost more than $200 million.

This Week: City Budget, Planning Board Discusses Main Street Project & Rodent Control

Charlie BreitroseWatertown City Hall

On Tuesday night, City Manager George Proakis will present the Fiscal Year 2024 budget to the City Council. The next night, the Planning Board will continue its discussion of the proposed six-story mixed-use project at 104-126 Main Street. The City Council will also consider a citizens petition to amend the Zoning Ordinance to create buffers between developments and residential areas. They will meet on Tuesday, May 9 at 7 p.m. in the Council Chamber City Hall and remote. See the agenda and how to participate here. The Planning Board will continue discussing the project at 104-126 Main St.

City Manager Seeks Residents to Serve on Stormwater Advisory Committee

The following announcement was provided by the City of Watertown:

City Manager George J. Proakis is seeking Watertown residents interested in serving on the Stormwater Advisory Committee. Interested applicants should submit a letter of interest accompanied by a resume or other information concerning background or experience by email to citymgr@watertown-ma.gov or City Manager’s Office, 149 Main Street, Watertown, Massachusetts 02472. Board/Commission/Committee:  Stormwater Advisory Committee

Description: The Stormwater Advisory Committee acts as an advisory body to the Superintendent of Public Works. The Committee will review and make recommendations on a new stormwater ordinance and related regulations being developed by the City; identify and advocate for stormwater funding through grants and other sources; develop educational programs to increase public awareness of stormwater management; and perform any other tasks relevant to assisting the Superintendent of Public Works with the implementation of best practices for stormwater management. The Committee shall also make an annual progress report to the City Council.

Council Thanks Longtime Personnel Director on Her Retirement

Gayle Shattuck

This week the City Council bid farewell to longtime Personnel Director Gayle Shattuck on her retirement after 19 years working for the Watertown’s municipal government. The City of Waterotwn sent out the following announcement, including the proclamation approved by the Council:

Congratulations to Gayle Shattuck on her retirement after serving as the City’s Personnel Director! Thank you for your 19 years of service and also for serving as the liaison on the Commission on Disabilities! Here is the Proclamation from the Watertown City Council:

WHEREAS: The quality of life and spirit in a community is enhanced by the commitment and willingness of an employee to give of her time and talents during employment; and,

WHEREAS: Gayle M. Shattuck is being honored by the City Council, the Administration, Colleagues and Community Members for her nineteen years of dedicated service to the Watertown community, and,

WHEREAS: Ms. Shattuck came to Wate11own with a long-standing tradition of serving others in both not-for-profit organizations and municipal public service: she served as the Central Middlesex ARC Program Director in Woburn, Massachusetts for fourteen years from 1980-1994, promoting and protecting the human rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities and as a Human Resources Specialist for the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts for ten years from 1994 until 2004, directly responsible for personnel administration for all Town, Public Safety, and School Department employees; and,

WHEREAS: Gayle M. Shattuck was appointed by Town/City Manager Michael J. Driscoll as the Personnel Director for Town/City of Watertown on February 26, 2004, for which she discharged her duties professionally, faithfully, fairly, and honorably; and,

WHEREAS: During Gayle’s tenure, she served on various committees assisting the Administration and City Council on Screening Committees of Candidates, Budget and Bargaining Teams, and as the liaison for the Commission on Disability; and,

WHEREAS: Ms. Shattuck worked tirelessly in her understated manner to be a strong advocate to the Commission on Disabilities by developing policies and procedures, suppo1iing their mission to serve those affected with disabilities and their families; and she served consecutively up until her retirement on Friday, April 28, 2023; and,

WHEREAS: Gayle, in her retirement, can now enjoy her time with her beloved husband, Mark, and her two “favorite” sons, Brian and Derek as they continue to share her joy of traveling … “It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey!”

Comprehensive Plan to Include Focus on Local Business, Diversifying New Developments

The revised draft of Watertown’s Comprehensive Plan will include some new additions and points of emphasis about supporting small businesses and seeking to diversify the local economy after the input provided by residents earlier this year. On Thursday afternoon, he Planning Advisory Committee heard about the public input from the open house in March, as well as online surveys and emails sent to the project team. They also learned about the process for the final approval of the Comprehensive Plan. Phil Schaeffing, the project manager with Stantec, said the input came from a room full of people during the March 9 open house at the Watertown Library, which was also attended by several people online. They received both spoken and written comments at the event.

Petition to Reduce Size of Buildings Allowed in Watertown Square Sent to Planning Board

The City Council voted to send the petition requesting that the allowable size of new buildings in Watertown Square be reduced to the Planning Board for consideration. Councilors did not weigh in on the request, and were told they were required by statute to send the petition on. The petition submitted with the signatures of more than 200 residents calls for the floor area ratio (FAR) be reduced from 4.0 to 2.2 in the Central Business District, which includes most of Watertown Square. FAR regulates and restricts the height, number of stories, and size of buildings. Other factors impacting the mass and height of the building include the allowable height, the required setbacks from property lines, and the amount of open space required.

This Week: Council Discussing Whether to Rename for Delta in Watertown Square

Watertown City Hall

This week, the City Councilors will discuss whether to rename the delta in Watertown Square. Also, the Affordable Housing Trust will look at housing priorities for the City’s ARPA funds, and the Board of Health and School Building Committee also have meetings this week. Since 1940, the grassy area with large trees in Watertown Square has been known as Columbus Delta. In June 2022, the City Council voted to consider renaming the area after being petitioned by a resident. On Tuesday, the Council’s Committee on Public Works will make a recommendation on the petition asking to the rename the Columbus Delta.