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.

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.

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.

Watertown One of First Communities to Adopt Energy Efficient Construction Requirement

With the City Council’s adoption of the state’s Specialized Stretch Code, Watertown became one of the first communities to adopt the code and continued efforts to make buildings in the community energy efficient. The Council had already adopted the Massachusetts Stretch Code, but communities have to separately adopt the Specialized Stretch Code, which calls for net-zero energy buildings by 2050. The code applies only to new construction. Adopting the Specialized Stretch Code is another step in the direction that the City has been heading toward energy efficiency, Council President Mark Sideris said before the Council’s unanimous vote. “I think this is consistent with what this City Council has been doing, from solar arrays on roofs and hybrid vehicles in our fleet when possible and net zero schools,” Sideris said.

Council Approves Millions for Easements for Mt. Auburn St. Project, State Still Has Not Released Comments on Plans

The $30 million Mt. Auburn Street reconstruction project will likely go out to bid at the end of 2023, and the 75 percent plans will soon be submitted. City officials, however, are still waiting for the state to release the public comments from the 25 percent designs submitted back in 2018. The project will be paid for by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) using federal transportation funding, but the design occurs at the local level, said Watertown Public Works Superintendent Greg St. Louis.

City Petitions Legislature to Extend Age Police Officers Can Work Road Detail Shifts

Charlie BreitroseA road after being milled and prepared for overlay of new asphalt.

The City of Watertown seeks to expand the age that police officers can work a detail at road construction projects up to the age of 70. Currently, the State caps the age of detail officers at 65, said City Manager George Proakis, but some communities have expanded that age to 70. With many road projects going on through the year, Watertown has trouble filling them with its own officers. With other communities allow older officers this creates some inconsistencies, Proakis said. “Because we are not able to fill all our details we often find ourselves requesting officers from other communities to come fill details in Watertown,” Proakis said.