After discovering that there were more questions than answers, the City Council recently postponed taking a vote on this year’s $11.1 million Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) budget.
During the June 28 meeting, Ward 1 Councillor Fred Capone raised concerns about purchasing a fire ambulance for $250,000. “My concern is the nuts and bolts of the ambulance service; we haven’t had that conversation,” he said.
However, Fire Chief Anthony Carli said all of Capone’s concerns are addressed in his Strategic Plan. He also emphasized that the Fire Department is in no way looking to replace Cataldo Ambulance Service, adding that Cataldo takes 70 percent of the calls that come into the Fire Department. “This is not an attempt to get rid of our vendor; this is an attempt to work with them,” said Carli. “I don’t have to tell you that seconds count.”
Capone also recommended cutting $425,000 which had been earmarked to design and build a park on Summer Street. He said that in speaking with residents in that part of the city, their desire is to have assistance with off-street parking. “The last thing they were looking for was a park,” said Capone, adding that a neighborhood meeting is still needed. “Without a neighborhood meeting, I couldn’t support that.”
Ward 3 Councillor Anthony DiPierro recommended removing the $610,000 line item for the design and construction of Beautification Way as the city is not ready to move forward on that project.
However, Chief Financial Officer Eric Demas said the $3 million line item for street and sidewalk repair is crucial and cannot be cut. “That would be an absolute must,” he said.
The council will meet on July 8 to vote on the CIP budget.
Summer break and sports betting
In other news, the council voted 8-3 to suspend its meetings for July and August with the exception of the July 8 meeting.
“Just because we may not meet regularly for these two months doesn’t mean the work stops,” said DiPierro. “I work harder in those two months.”
Prior to the vote, Ward 6 Councillor Michael McLaughlin suggested meeting once in July and once in August.
The council voted unanimously to support the sports wagering bill which is currently pending on Beacon Hill.
“Sports betting is a big thing in Massachusetts,” said Ward 5 Councillor Rosa DiFlorio, adding that it could be offered at Encore Boston Harbor. “It could be right down the street; it could bring in revenue.”
City Council President Wayne Matewsky said a recent poll showed that 76 percent of Massachusetts residents support the bill. “The money that this would generate would go to education,” he said. “We’re the only state that doesn’t have sports betting.”