Ambrosino Submits $174 Million City Budget

Ambrosino Submits $174 Million City Budget

With a proposal that increases spending by nearly $10 million, City Manager Tom Ambrosino submitted a City Budget to the Council this week for consideration at the May 7 meeting.

The $174 million budget is rather lean and creates only two new positions, but does contribute extra money to the School Department and covers the final year pay increases of several union contracts.

As submitted, the budget is out of balance by $790,000 – which Ambrosino said would not be a big deal to cover in the months ahead.

“We continue our improvements in the downtown and our support for the schools,” he said. “We have created two new positions in the DPW, one in the Water Department and a Junior Engineer.”

There are no new positions for Police and Fire this year, in contrast to the last two years when record numbers were added to the Fire Department through federal and local funding.

“There are not new positions in those departments this year,” he said. “We’ll maintain the current contingents.”

There are now 111 Police officers on, and just shy of 100 firefighters.

Other fixed costs included increases in health insurance, rubbish disposal/collection, and retirement system funding.

The two new positions relate to growth and water meters, he said.

The junior engineer will help the city with all of the ongoing projects, while the Water Department employee will be a liaison to the public regarding the many issues with the City’s current water meters.

Ambrosino said he has instructed the Department to begin the process of getting new water meters, but until then, the new employee would help sort out customer complaints.

“The City is looking into new water meters because our existing meters are old and not functioning well,” he said.

For the School Department, he said they gave an additional $1 million on top of the $1 million added last year. He said they have given the schools 5 percent more than required by the state this year.

However, he said that cannot continue forever.

“There is a balancing act in how much a City can contribute to the School Department without putting its own budget out of whack,” he said.

The School Department is primarily funded by state money, and the City is required to pay a certain portion of the funding as well through a state formula. This year, that mandatory payment is going to be $91.2 million. The City has given over and above that in the last three years.

Following their receipt of the City Budget on Monday, Council President Damali Vidot will schedule a full slate of budget hearings for the month of May and June. The City Budget must get Council approval by June 30.

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Tobin Bridge Project to Begin April 1

Tobin Bridge Project to Begin April 1

The contract for the multi-year Mystic/Tobin Bridge Rehabilitation project will begin on April 1 for the first full year of construction on the upper and lower decks of the Bridge.

The project is fully separate from the controversial Chelsea Viaduct project – which is adjacent to this project – and is still in the design phase.

JF White received its notice to proceed last October and the contract begins on April 1, which will clear them to move in and begin work, particularly on the Lower Deck (outbound) part of the Bridge. The Lower Deck in each of the three-years will have one lane closed for concrete structure repairs.

Another major component will be the temporary closures at different points during the year of the Everett Avenue on-ramp, the Beacon Street off-ramp and the Fourth Street off-ramp.

“The Lower Deck is a little more involved because it requires milling and paving and replacement of the existing concrete deck,” said John McInerney of MassDOT. “It’s a steel grid so it’s a little more tedious to replace that concrete. Because of worker safety and the fact that the work is tedious and we have to pour concrete and let it cure, the three lanes on the Lower Deck will be down to two throughout the job.”

On the first year, this year, that will be the right lane of traffic that will be closed outbound. On the second year, it will be the left lane, and on the third year, the middle lane.

Paving and milling operations on the Upper Deck (inbound) is less intrusive and will only be done in off-peak hours with no lane closures expected.

The ramp closures will likely be the most impactful thing for Chelsea residents this year, but McInerney said they will not close multiple ramps at the same time for construction. They will do one at a time.

The first ramp up will be the Everett Avenue on-ramp, which is in deplorable shape.

He said it will likely be closed from late April to May.

“We are going to want them to really focus on that when they close a ramp,” he said. “We aren’t going to let them close a ramp and only work on it three hours a day. We want them to get it done as quickly as possible.”

Once that is done, they will move to close the Beacon Street off-ramp for two months. When it is completed, they will move to close the Fourth Street off-ramp for about one month. That is anticipated to happen in November.

“The bottom line is these three ramp closures are anticipated for this construction season and they won’t close simultaneously,” he said. “They have to have to come one after the other.”

He added that the MBTA is working with them to talk about changes to bus routes that use those ramps.

McInerney said there will also be extensive steel repairs on the Bridge, but the extent isn’t totally known right now. Once crews are able to set up access points, they will be able to examine the steel more closely.

McInerney said before JF White proceeds on April 1, there will be a community meeting to address any concerns. Dates for those meetings are forthcoming.

The project contract ends each Nov. 30 for the three-year period.

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Ward 4 Democratic Committee Elects Delegates to the State Convention

Ward 4 Democratic Committee Elects Delegates to the State Convention

Registered Democrats in the City of Chelsea Ward 4, held a Caucus on February 3, 2018 at the Chelsea Public Library to elect Delegates to the 2018 Democratic State Convention.

Elected Delegates are:

Olivia Anne Walsh

91 Crest Ave.

Luis Tejada

103 Franklin Ave.

Thomas J. Miller

91 Crest Ave.

Theresa G. Czerepica

21 Prospect Ave.

This year’s State Convention will be held June 1-2 at the DCU Center in Worcester, where thousands of Democrats from across the Commonwealth will come together to endorse Democratic candidates for statewide office, Including Constitutional officers and gubernatorial candidates

Those interested in getting involved with the Chelsea Ward 4 Democratic Committee should contact Attorney Olivia Anne Walsh, Ward 4 Chair, at 617-306-5501.

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Chelsea Wards to Elect Delegates to Democratic State Convention

Chelsea Wards to Elect Delegates to Democratic State Convention

Registered Democrats in these will hold a caucus on February 3, 2018, 10:00 a.m. at Chelsea Library to elect delegates and alternates to the 2018 Massachusetts Democratic State Convention.

This year’s state convention will be held June 1-1 DCU Center in Worcester, where Democrats from across the state will come together to endorse Democratic candidates for statewide office, including Constitutional Officers and gubernatorial candidates. The caucus is open to all registered and pre-registered Democrats in Chelsea Wards 1, 2 & 4.

Pre-registered Democrats who will be 18 by September 18, 2018 will be allowed to participate and run as a delegate or alternate.

Youth, minorities, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ individuals who are not elected as a delegate or alternate may apply to be an add-on delegate at the caucus or at  www.mass.dems.org.

Those interested in getting involved with the Democratic ward committee Committee should;

Jose Vaquerano Ward 1 617-279-3867

Sandra Brown Ward 2 617-466-1548

Olivia Walsh Ward 4 617-305-5501

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Plan, Wash Hands and Stay Healthy for the Holidays

Plan, Wash Hands and Stay Healthy for the Holidays

By Seth Daniel

The holidays present a unique month-long time of the year when people often can find themselves in a much different pattern than during the rest of the year. Such changes can often lead to unhealthy behaviors or illnesses – and triggers for those struggling with overeating disorders or substance use disorders.

Going into the holidays with a plan and a watchful eye – from the dinner table to the kids’ toys – is a necessity.

To learn how to stay healthy during this unique time of year, why not ask the best?

Dr. David Roll, a primary care physician for all ages and the medical director at the CHA Revere and CHA Everett Primary Care practices, was recently named on of the region’s Top Doctors in the Boston Magazine December issue. The annual list looks at top doctors in every specialty and in primary care as well.

Roll said he is fortunate to have a good team around him, and that is crucial in medical care delivery.

“I’m very fortunate to have a great team in Cambridge Health Alliance and at our clinics in Everett and Revere, with a great range of physicians, physician assistants, nurses and other staff to help improve the health of our communities,” he said. “Medicine today is a team sport and there are no top doctors without top teams.”

From the area’s Top Doctor, here are some things to watch for on the holidays as it relates to one’s health.

Q: Many people find it hard to stay healthy over the holidays. There are numerous flus, colds and other maladies that are brought into parties and celebrations. What are the best precautions to take over the holidays?

A:  I make sure everyone in my family gets a flu shot and I advise all my patients to do the same. It’s not possible to get the flu from the shots we use today. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for the kids and grandparents in your family, who could end up in the hospital if they get the flu from you. Also, cover your cough and wash your hands frequently – simple but important.

 Q:  Food and the holidays are literally tied at the hip. For a lot of people, keeping to a diet or keeping a healthy eating pattern is difficult. What do you recommend?

A:  It’s all about balance. If you’re snacking more during the day, take a small plate for dinner. If you’re planning for a big holiday meal, eat light and drink lots of water throughout the day. If you want to try everything, take a bite or two of each dish.

 Q:  Everyone always talks about post-holiday depression. Is that really a thing? If so, how can people prepare for it and do they need to?

A:  I think it’s real. Sometimes people feel there’s nothing to look forward to after a long-awaited vacation and time with family. One solution is to schedule an event or a long weekend two or three weeks after the holiday – something else to look forward to. As the new year approaches, you might also want to think about scheduling your annual physical for 2018, to talk with your care team or schedule any health screenings that are overdue.

 Q:  Is it an old wives tale that one can get sick by going out in the cold without a hat and coat, or is there some medical soundness to that old claim?

A:  It’s mostly myth. Cold temperatures and dry air make a slightly more hospitable environment for some viruses in your nose and throat.  But colds are caused by viruses and the main reason people get more colds in the winter is spending more time indoors with other people.

 Q:  What are some of the common holiday-associated problems that patients have presented to you and your staff over the years?

A:  This time of year we see a lot of people worried about a persistent cough. Most people aren’t aware that the average duration of a cough is about 18 days. Usually it can be controlled with home remedies or over-the-counter medications, and it rarely requires antibiotics. At the CHA Revere Care Center, we offer sick visits Monday-Friday and Saturdays until 1 p.m., to help people who need to been seen for an illness.

Q:  Are there signs that parents should watch for in their children both before, during and after the holidays?

A:  Aside from the usual respiratory and stomach viruses, this is the time of year when food, fuel, and housing insecurity have their sharpest sting, and disproportionately affect our most vulnerable patients, especially the young and the old. For those who can, it’s a great time to think about donating to local food pantries and supporting the services that are most needed in the winter.

 Q:  Substance abuse can invade the holidays for some people. How do you address that with patients who struggle with substance use disorders?

A:  If you’re in recovery, make a party plan in advance for those high-risk or high-stress occasions:  Go late, leave early, and take a sober friend along. If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help. The assistance you need may be as close as a friend, a coworker, your doctor’s office at Cambridge Health Alliance, or one of our partners in the community.

 Q:  There are a lot of toys and gifts that can be harmful or dangerous to children. Should parents think about toy safety over the holidays, or is that overdoing it?

A:  Well-meaning family and friends often give gifts that are not appropriate to a child’s age. Age limits are on toys for a reason, mostly to prevent younger children from choking on small parts. In the end, there is no substitute for parental supervision, especially with small children and small toys. Also, if you gift a bike or skateboard, buy the protective gear to go with it.

 Q:  What is your favorite holiday treat?

A:  I love date bars, just like my mother used to make. It’s one of those rich treats you have to balance with good eating, especially if you can’t resist a second trip to the dessert tray.

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Brass Tax: some residents will see a decrease in property taxes this year

Brass Tax: some residents will see a decrease in property taxes this year

The Chelsea City Council unanimously set the property tax rates for residential and commercial properties on Monday night, instituting an increased 27.5 percent owner-occupant exemption that will lead to a reduction in taxes for most single-family homeowners.

“(These tax rates) will result in a reduction in the average tax bill for owner-occupied single family homes, and a modest tax increase to other owner-occupied parcels,” wrote City Manager Tom Ambrosino.

The new residential tax rate is $14.17 per $1,000 of value, and the commercial tax rate is $29.75 per $1,000 of value. Both tax rates are still pending state Department of Revenue approvals – which could result in minor adjustments, if any adjustments.

With that, the average owner-occupied single family home will see a decrease in their bill from $2,723 last year to $2,654 this year. There are 843 single-family homes in Chelsea.

Condos will see an increase from $1,893 to $2,100, while two-families will see a very small increase compared to previous years – going from $3,657 to $3,781 on the average bill.

Three-family homes will also see a much smaller increase than in previous years, going up 3.8 percent over last year ($4,927 to $5,114).

The largest tax bill increase came on the condo properties, which will rise 11 percent over last year. Condos also are the most prevalent properties in the city, with 1,839 properties units.

The Council does have the option to increase the owner-occupant exemption to 35 percent, but instead continued to keep with the incremental increase towards that higher number. Last year, after first having the ability to go from 20 percent to 35 percent, the Council chose the conservative approach, ratifying a 25 percent exemption.

This year, they chose the 27.5 percent exemption.

“By selecting the 27.5 percent residential exemption amount, the City Council will have the opportunity to spread the benefit of the 35 percent exemption limit over several additional fiscal years,” Ambrosino wrote.

The Council did not debate the matter much, but voted 11-0 the tax rates and other related measures.

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Brass Tax: some residents will see a decrease in property taxes this year

Brass Tax: some residents will see a decrease in property taxes this year

The Chelsea City Council unanimously set the property tax rates for residential and commercial properties on Monday night, instituting an increased 27.5 percent owner-occupant exemption that will lead to a reduction in taxes for most single-family homeowners.

“(These tax rates) will result in a reduction in the average tax bill for owner-occupied single family homes, and a modest tax increase to other owner-occupied parcels,” wrote City Manager Tom Ambrosino.

The new residential tax rate is $14.17 per $1,000 of value, and the commercial tax rate is $29.75 per $1,000 of value. Both tax rates are still pending state Department of Revenue approvals – which could result in minor adjustments, if any adjustments.

With that, the average owner-occupied single family home will see a decrease in their bill from $2,723 last year to $2,654 this year. There are 843 single-family homes in Chelsea.

Condos will see an increase from $1,893 to $2,100, while two-families will see a very small increase compared to previous years – going from $3,657 to $3,781 on the average bill.

Three-family homes will also see a much smaller increase than in previous years, going up 3.8 percent over last year ($4,927 to $5,114).

The largest tax bill increase came on the condo properties, which will rise 11 percent over last year. Condos also are the most prevalent properties in the city, with 1,839 properties units.

The Council does have the option to increase the owner-occupant exemption to 35 percent, but instead continued to keep with the incremental increase towards that higher number. Last year, after first having the ability to go from 20 percent to 35 percent, the Council chose the conservative approach, ratifying a 25 percent exemption.

This year, they chose the 27.5 percent exemption.

“By selecting the 27.5 percent residential exemption amount, the City Council will have the opportunity to spread the benefit of the 35 percent exemption limit over several additional fiscal years,” Ambrosino wrote.

The Council did not debate the matter much, but voted 11-0 the tax rates and other related measures.

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Chelsea Salvation Army Kicks Off Kettles at Market Basket

Chelsea Salvation Army Kicks Off Kettles at Market Basket

By Seth Daniel

Jane Gianatasio – a life-long Chelsea resident – has been a Salvation Army bellringer for 10 years, helping the local Salvation Army to raise money each holiday season. On Tuesday, she helped a contingent of bellringers to kick off the holiday season at the Market Basket. “My Kettle is always full,” she said.

Jane Gianatasio – a life-long Chelsea resident – has been a Salvation Army bellringer for 10 years, helping the local Salvation Army to raise money each holiday season. On Tuesday,
she helped a contingent of bellringers to kick off the holiday season at the Market Basket.“My Kettle is always full,” she said.

When the holiday season hits, Chelsea’s Jane Gianatasio can be found in one obvious place – ringing a bell for the Salvation Army Kettle Drive.

For the past 10 years, the life-long Chelsea resident has been a bell-ringer for the organization, helping to raise money in their biggest fundraiser of the year.

One of the key places, she said, is the Market Basket, where bellringers are stationed at both doors.

“I do this for the kids,” she said. “I do it so they can have food and Christmas toys. That’s why I’ve been doing it so long. My kettle is always full. Even when my husband comes to pick me up at night, he sometimes sits here for a bit while I take a break, and even he can make $15 in a short period of time. I truly enjoy this time of year.”

The Salvation Army on Chestnut Street kicked off its efforts last weekend, but officially kicked them off with a small ceremony at Market Basket on Tuesday morning.

“The Kettle drive is very important because this is how we make money for our programming and 83 cents of every dollar we raise goes back to the community,” said Capt. Isael Gonzalez. “It is one of our biggest fundraisers of the year. We have 450 families signed up already for Christmas toys and we have 300 families signed up for Thanksgiving.”

Capt. Gonzalez said the goal this year is to raise $90,000 through Dec. 23 with the Kettles.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino joined the kick-off and put in his own donation to start things off.

Ambrosino said he fully supports the Salvation Army efforts and hoped that Chelsea residents would be generous this holiday season.

Capt. Gonzalez said they are still looking for volunteers to be bell ringers, and encouraged local organizations to volunteer for some time during the holidays.

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Community Preservation Funds Waiting for Distribution

Community Preservation Funds Waiting for Distribution

By Seth Daniel

The first-round of Community Preservation Act (CPA) money in Chelsea has been collected from the taxpayers and amounts to around $600,000 locally.

A state match under the CPA is not yet known, but it will likely be known in November.

City Manager Tom Ambrosino said they are estimating that the state money will likely come in at a 15 percent match of what was collected – which would be $90,000.

That would make the total CPA money available in Fiscal Year 2017 to be estimated at $690,000.

The CPA Committee has begun meeting and did meet this week, but they are still getting organized.

Soon, however, it is expected that they will begin considering requests for CPA dollars this year.

“They did meet this week, but we are still in the planning stages of getting operational,” said Ambrosino. “At some point, they will submit proposal and they will have to dole out that money.”

By statue, 10 percent of the funds each have to go to historic preservation, affordable housing and open space. The remainder can be given out at the Committee’s discretion for community needs.

The City Council has the final vote on any awards.

The electorate voted overwhelmingly last November to approve the CPA, and the City has been diligently putting it in place with an aggressive schedule over the last 10 months.

Many municipalities that approved the CPA last year are still in the early planning stages and haven’t even begun to make collections on the tax bills.

The CPA is funded by an extra collection on municipal property tax bills.

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Back to School Cuts

Back to School Cuts

CHEL_20170831_A1

For the second year in a row, Chelsea barbers pooled their resources to help young people in the community look sharp for school. Councillor Damali Vidot, Councillor Yamir Rodriguez, and barber Luis Rodriguez organized the event this year, with music and free haircuts for Chelsea kids at the Boys & Girls Club.
More than 50 kids got spruced up to start of the school year, which began on Tuesday, Aug. 29.

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