City Council Approves $18 Million CIP Plan with Some Reservations

With a few adjustments, the City Council approved City Manager’s proposed $18 million Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) budget for Fiscal Year 2020. About $4.7 million of that proposal comes from the City’s free cash reserves.

The Council held a special meeting Tuesday night, May 28, to pass the CIP before the June 1 deadline.

The major changes to Ambrosino’s requests included paying for the second phase of the Mary C. Burke School roof project through $825,000 in free cash rather than the school stabilization fund, and doing away with $450,000 in the FY20 CIP for an updated Master Plan.

“Even though I am a huge proponent of the Master Plan, I think we should take a step back,” said Councillor-At-Large Leo Robinson.

He said the City will be looking at some zoning issues in the near future, and should focus on that before it moves forward with a Master Plan update.

Earlier this year, City Manager Thomas Ambrosino presented the proposed 2020-2024 Capital Improvement Plan to the City Council. That document included 45 projects totaling $18 million for FY20.

“It is my strong belief that this comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan fully meets our promise to invest the City’s strong reserves in projects that enhance the quality of life in our City,” Ambrosino stated in a letter to the City Council.

The program areas addressed in the CIP for FY20 include equipment purchases including furniture, desktop replacements, and vehicles for the library; roadway and sidewalk improvements; improvement and expansion of open spaces, including the Mary C. Burke playground; replacement of police cruisers, radio communication equipment, and a new engine pumper; and nearly $7 million for infrastructure improvements including utility replacement on Upper Broadway, mitigation of localized flooding and expansion of the City’s lead service replacement program.

“This gives our City Manager the leverage to go out and continue to fix our sidewalks and roads and also help with school projects and water projects,” said District 8 Councillor Calvin T. Brown. “It’s a lot of money, but it needs to be done to improve the quality of life in Chelsea.”

District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero voted in favor of the CIP, but questioned why the Council vote is necessary, since the City Charter already requires the annual adoption of the CIP. “The charter is telling you it has to be approved,” he said.

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