Legislative Affairs Update by Terrence F. Smith
Changes at all levels of government
The New Year brings a new City Council, a new US Senator and an open State Senate seat. The Cambridge City Council was sworn-in on January 4. Leland Cheung is the new face on the Council. No Mayor was elected at the inaugural Council meeting. The School Committee was sworn in the same day with two old faces returning to the School Committee, Richard Harding and Alice Turkel.
In mid-January, Wareham State Senator Scott Brown was elected to fill the remainder of the US Senate term formerly held by the late Senator Ted Kennedy. Also in January, State Senator Anthony Galluccio resigned from the State Senate. A Special Primary Election for this seat has been scheduled for April 13, with the Special Election scheduled for May 11.
2010 will be an interesting year with elections for statewide and legislative offices dominating the political calendar and continued economic difficulties impacting government operations and services. Last year the City of Cambridge was able to absorb reductions in state assistance due to new construction and rising property values in 2008 and new taxes on meals and hotel rooms and use of so-called free-cash to fill gaps.
Several reports on the 2009 real estate market suggest that property values have dropped and little new construction occurred, which may require the City to consider a combination of increased tax rates and reduction in services to balance the budget. One positive piece of news is that the State budget submitted to the legislature by the Governor called for no decrease in local aid.
Stretch Energy Code Adopted
The City Council ended the last term by enacting the Stretch Energy Code at the last meeting of the year. Between January 1 and June 30, 2010 property-owners may chose to use either the base building current code or the Stretch Energy Code. After July 1, 2010, all new commercial and residential buildings and many residential renovation projects will be required to comply with the Stretch Energy Code. The City has posted information on the Stretch Energy Code at www.cambridgema.gov/cdd/et/stretchcode/index.html and has arranged through the State’s training contractor, the Center for Ecological Technology, a session on the commercial code in Cambridge on February 24. A Cambridge session on the residential code is to be scheduled for the spring.
Members of the CCC’s Government Affairs committee will get a preview of the City budget and financial condition from City Manager Robert Healy on Tuesday, February 23 at the first GAC meeting and luncheon of 2010. The meeting will be held at noon at the Institute of Politics, Kennedy School of Government, 79 JFK Street. Thank you to IOP Director Bill Purcell and his staff for hosting this event. Please RSVP to email@example.com.
The 2010 Government Affairs program is sponsored by Genzyme Corporation. For more information on GAC activities or to sign up to receive a weekly GAC e-mail, contact Director of Government Affairs Terrence Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or (617) 876-4213.
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