The mayor unveils his budget this week, so all things financial dominate the League’s weekly Digest.
That means lots of red (environmental issues took green, so finance took the red highlighting).
At the time the Digest debuted, the Citizens Advisory Group was releasing its reports, which showed a lot of red ink in the City’s finances–mostly deferred capital projects and maintenance.
Many of the CAG findings still hold true, although the mayor and aldermen have chipped away at some of Newton’s deficits.
One that still looms is the state of the storm drain system. Like the sewers, we know this needs repair, but unlike the sewers, we don’t know where and how much. The mayor has postponed a proposal to increase storm water fees for those who own a lot of pavement (mostly big box stores), which will only defer maintenance further. Study would cost about $400,000, which in this budget is small change.
Why does this matter? Because soon the EPA will require the city to not only fix but improve its treatment of stormwater–making less of it run freely (with pollutants) into the Charles, Crystal Lake, etc. Some of those pollutants–like phosphorus, a component of car exhaust, increases the incidence of blue-green algae–that’s the stuff that closed Crystal Lake last summer. It creates a toxin that can kill dogs who drink the water, and give skin rashes to people.