See How Much the City Proposes Charging New Developments to Fund Affordable Housing

Watertown City Hall

The City of Watertown recently received approval from the state to charge linkage fees on new developments to raise money to create affordable housing. A zoning amendment has been proposed that would set the fee to be paid by new developments. The special legislation approved by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Charlie Baker in December allows Watertown to charge up to $18 per square foot on projects over 30,000 sq. ft. The exact amount must be set by amending the Watertown Zoning Ordinance.

Watertown City Councilor Elected to Mass. Municipal Councilor’s Association Board

Lisa Feltner seeks re-election as District B Town Councilor. District B City Councilor Lisa Feltner has been elected to serve on the board of the Massachusetts Municipal Councilor’s Association. The group provides opportunities councilors to network and share ideas, pursue educational opportunities, meet with state leaders and subject-matter experts, and participate in the advocacy work of the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA). The following announcement was provided by the MMA:

Member groups representing the state’s mayors, councillors, town managers and administrators, and select board members elected their 2023 officers at their annual business meetings held during the recent Massachusetts Municipal Association’s (MMA) Annual Meeting & Trade Show in Boston. Women Elected Municipal Officials (WEMO) also named its 2023 Steering Committee at its annual Leadership Luncheon during the MMA Annual Meeting.

City Councilor John Airaisan Hosting Annual Public Meeting

Councilor At-Large John Airasian. As part of the changes to the Watertown Charter all City Councilors must have an annual meeting to meet with the public. City Councilor At-Large John Airasian announced dates for his constituent meeting. See info below. Join City Councilor John Airasian at his Individual Annual City Councilor Meeting on Tuesday, January 31, 2023 from 6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. in the Watertown Police Station Community/Training room, 552 Main St., Watertown.

State Rep. Owens Seeks Applicants for Legislative Intern

The following information was provided by State Rep. Owen’s Office:

Rep. Owens serves the 29th Middlesex District, which consists of Watertown and North/West Cambridge. It includes some of the country’s most significant cultural landmarks: Historic Brattle Street, the Perkins School for the Blind, Mount Auburn Cemetery, Fresh Pond Reservation, the Watertown Arsenal. It’s also a source of technological innovation, a center for education, and home to some of the most engaged and accomplished residents of the Commonwealth. Prior to his election to the legislature in 2020, Rep. Owens spent 20 years as a transportation consultant, where he developed freight and logistics data solutions for public and private sector clients. He has applied this expertise both to his work on the Watertown Transportation Task Force and now in the House, where he seeks solutions to improve access to public transportation while helping reduce the state’s carbon footprint.

Residents Discussed How Watertown Should Spend ARPA Money

The following announcement came from Watertown Forward:

Watertown residents came together on January 22, 2023 for a Watertown Forward City Chat to learn more about how the city could spend the one-time $10.5M allotment in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. (ARPA). Jared Knowles, founder of Civilytics Consulting a data science consulting firm here in Watertown, and frequent resource to communities around Massachusetts and the country for the allocation and use of ARPA funds, provided an overview of the funding guidelines and insight into what other communities have done with their funds. Knowles commented that communities have used this funding in a wide-range of applications, for instance, to address affordable housing and houselessness by constructing new housing or providing rental assistance, to give childcare workers bonuses for their efforts as essential workers, and to invest in the public water infrastructure by installing public water fountains or water bottle filling stations. According to federal guidelines, there are three categories of funding that Watertown can consider: respond to the public health emergency of the pandemic and its impact, make investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure, and provide premium pay for essential workers.

City Council Votes to Raise Its Salary Based on COLA, Will Examine Figure Next Term

The City Council voted to give itself a salary increase based on cost of living adjustments (COLA), and will voted to create a resident committee to look at whether to raise the number even more in the future. The Watertown Charter requires raises for the City Councilors to be approved by a Council vote amending the City Council Salary ordinance. Under the amendment approved on Jan. 24, Councilors will be paid $8,700 a year beginning on Jan. 1, 2024, up from $7,500, and the Council President’s salary will go from $10,500 up to $12,000.

City Manager Outlines Schedule for Renovating Watertown Parks, Other Capital Projects

City of WatertownAn aerial view of Victory Field. Multiple projects at the complex are on the City’s five year capital improvement plan. Watertown’s five-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) includes preparing the former Parker School to house City departments, upgrades to the skating arena, park and recreation projects, and making municipal facilities more energy efficient and less reliant on fossil fuels. The proposed Watertown Capital Improvement Plan for Fiscal Years 2024-28 includes $245.74 million in projects and equipment purchases, of which $161.39 million would be funded with general obligation bonds. City Manager George Proakis told the City Council on Tuesday that the numbers could change depending on the rising cost of construction, inflation, and how much tax revenue from new developments (known as new growth) occurs in Watertown.

Council to Hear from Public on How to Spend Watertown’s Federal ARPA Funds

Watertown City Hall

The City of Watertown will receive $10.5 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds, and next week the City Council will host a meeting to hear from residents about how they would like to see the money spent. The Council’s Committee on Budget & Fiscal Oversight will hold the meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 1 at 7 p.m. in City Hall and there will be a remote option. Meeting information and the remote link will be posted here. Watertown must have a final plan for where the ARPA funds will be spent by Dec.