Category Archives: Uncategorized

Road Construction and Traffic Update for July 22-23

Lebanon Street will be closed from East Emerson to Porter Street from 8 p.m. tonight until 7 a.m. tomorrow morning for water main improvements. Porter Street will be closed between Rowe and Lebanon. Main Street traffic passing the intersection can expect delays.

Water main improvements at the intersection of Marvin Road and Franklin Street will take place starting at 8 p.m. and continue until 8 a.m. Westbound traffic will be detoured at Tremont Street. Eastbound traffic can expect delays.

Global Education in Melrose award ceremony is tonight

On Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at 7:00 PM, Melrose High School’s Global Education in Melrose program, together with the Melrose Human Rights Commission is celebrating the achievement of MHS students in the field of Global Education. Global Education in Melrose (GEM) was created six years ago by a team of high school faculty, parents, and other members of the community, many of whom represented the Human Rights Commission, School Committee, and Rotary Club. The program aims to foster students’ cultural awareness, recognize the accomplishments of students who represent the school around the globe, and provide graduates with skills for participating in and contributing to an increasingly international society.

In order for a broader sector of the Melrose community to attend and share in the appreciation of students who have committed themselves to fulfilling the rigorous requirements of the program – particularly graduating senior Monica O’Shea – the GEM award ceremony is being held in the Great Room, Oak Grove Village, 12 Island Hill Avenue. Ms. O’Shea will present her final GEM project – in which academic work is integrated with creative, reflective, and exploratory endeavors, all inspired and informed by travel, language study, reading, and research.

This event formally marks the continuation of a focused collaboration between the high school and the Melrose Human Rights Commission (MHRC), recognizing that the philosophy and purpose of the Global Education in Melrose program and that of the Commission have much in common. Both the high school and the MHRC extend their congratulations to all Melrose High School students who are committed to the acquisition of knowledge that will enable them to interact and build relationships with people from other world cultures; develop their own values and opinions; demonstrate respect, open-mindedness, understanding, and flexibility in behavior and thinking; and help others to embrace multiple perspectives.

Members of the public are cordially invited to join in celebrating GEM’s achievements and especially to recognize Monica O’Shea’s impressive accomplishments.

MHS all clear

This is the message that was sent for the all clear to parents.

Good Afternoon,

Melrose Police Chief, Fire Chief, NEMLEC & STARS have done a complete sweep of Melrose High School and surrounding areas. They have deemed Melrose High School safe for occupancy. All students were dismissed at 2:11 p.m. All afternoon activities will be held as scheduled.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Marianne Farrell signature

 

 

Principal

Melrose High School

MHS evacuation: Additional information

The following Connect Ed message was sent to homes of Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School students:

Dear Parents,

Good afternoon! This is Principal Brow at Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School. The purpose of this message is to inform you that today –Thursday, April 17, 2014, Melrose High School received notice of a written threat in the third floor boys’ bathroom. The Melrose Police, Melrose Fire, and Public Safety Officials have established an incident command center and determined that the high school students will be relocated to the Melrose Athletic Field. It has been determined by the public safety officials that there is no threat to the students and staff at Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School. The NEMLEC and STARS teams have been called to sweep Melrose High School and the general surrounding areas. We anticipate a normal middle school dismissal at 2:05 p.m. We would like parents to know that school and police officials are conducting an investigation to identify the responsible individual(s). We take all threats seriously and implement this protocol for any threat. The focus of school officials and the police department is the safety of our students and staff.

If this incident has triggered feelings of anxiety, please inform your children that we will have counselors available to meet with any child who is concerned. We wish to thank everyone for their cooperation in allowing the school and public officials to do their job and keep our students safe. Thank you.”

Sincerely,
Tommy Brow, Principal
Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School
350 Lynn Fells Parkway
Melrose, MA 02176
781-979-2100

MHS evacuation

This is a statement from MHS principal Marianne Farrell:

Good afternoon. This is Marianne Farrell of Melrose High School.

On Thursday, April 17, Melrose High School received notice of a written bomb threat in the third floor boy’s bathroom.

Students will be evacuated to the football field. NEMLEC and STARS teams have been called in to sweep the high school and general surrounding areas. Students will be brought back to the building as soon as it has been cleared and we anticipate a normal dismissal at 2:11 p.m.

Principal
Melrose High School

Public safety officials have determined that there is no risk whatsoever to Melrose Veterans Memorial Middle School. The students remain in place and are safe.

January state revenue collections up almost 7% over last year

The following is the February report from the state Department of Revenue stating that they had a banner year in state revenues. It should also be noted that lottery receipts are at an all-time high. Yet after state assessments on the City of Melrose, our net state aid in the Governor’s budget is $6,200. That means we have $6,200 more to fund all of our public schools and all of our City. This makes no sense to me…

There either needs to be Proposition 2 1/2 or revenue sharing. When revenue sharing does not exist, the burden is always on the local government and the local homeowner, through increased taxes and fees. That is a regressive policy that the State needs to change.

January Revenue Collections Total $2.430 Billion

(Boston – Wednesday, February 4, 2014) – Revenue Commissioner Amy Pitter today announced that preliminary revenue collections for January totaled $2.430 billion, $143 million or 6.2 percent above revenues collected last January. Better than expected performance in withholding and corporate/business tax collections offset relatively weak performance in sales tax collections to end the month $83 million above the monthly benchmark based on the FY2014 revised revenue estimate of $23.2 billion.

Revenue collections seven months into the fiscal year totaled $13.194 billion, $856 million or 6.9 percent more than at this time last year and $83 million above the year-to-date benchmark.

“January collections not only met but also exceeded the newly revised monthly benchmarks. Much of the January surplus is due to time-shifting in withholding collections, income tax refunds and corporate/business refunds,” said Commissioner Pitter. “Withholding collections reflected what DOR noted in December’s revenue report that at least $30 million in anticipated December withholding was actually paid in January.”

Commissioner Pitter also noted that income tax refunds were lower in January most likely because the IRS delayed the opening of the tax filing season and many taxpayers file federal and state returns around the same time. Income tax refunds, as well as corporate/business refunds, are expected to increase in February or March, offsetting a significant portion of January revenue surplus.

Total income tax collections for January were $1.682 billion, up $86 million or 5.4 percent from last January and $59 million above the monthly benchmark. Year-to-date income was $7.718 billion, $431 million or 5.9 percent over last year and $59 million over the year-to-date benchmark.

January withholding collections totaled $985 million, $80 million or 8.9 percent more than last January and $33 million above the monthly benchmark. So far this fiscal year, withholding collections are $6.110 billion, $266 million or 4.5 percent over last year and $33 million above the year-to-date benchmark.

Estimated income tax payments brought in $682 million for the month, $7 million or 1.0 percent less than last January and $10 million over the monthly benchmark. Year-to-date estimated income tax collections totaled $1.464 billion, $92 million or 6.7 percent over last year at this time and $10 million over the year-to-date benchmark.

Income tax payments with returns or bills brought in $28 million for the month, $2 million or 6.5 percent less than last January and $3 million above the January benchmark. Year-to-date income tax payments with returns or bills totaled $370 million, $90 million or 32.1 percent over last year at this time and $3 million over the year-to-date benchmark.

Corporate and business tax collections for January were $55 million, $19 million or 53.2 percent above last January’s collections and $37 million above the monthly benchmark. Year-to-date corporate and business tax collections totaled $1,001 billion, up $91 million or 10.0 percent from the same period last year and $37 million above the year-to-date benchmark.

Sales and use tax collections for January totaled $521 million, up $25 million or 5.0 percent from last January and $8 million below the monthly benchmark. Collections through seven months of the fiscal year totaled $3.267 billion, $192 million or 6.2 percent more than the same period last year and $8 million less than the year-to-date benchmark.

What snow means to you

As mayor, it is my job to talk about some of the challenges we face as they come up. Many of these challenges are not of our own making, and today I would like to take a little bit of time to talk about one of them: Snow removal. Regardless of cost, we will and must maintain our City in a proper way to ensure public safety and vehicular and pedestrian travel, but here are some economic realities that are the consequences of an extraordinarily snowy winter.

  • If you look out five or six years, the average amount the City spends on snow removal is $700,000. That takes into account high snow years, low snow years, and everything in between.
  • This year, the City of Melrose budgeted $700,000 for snow removal: $500,000 in the budget and $200,000 in free cash. This is the highest amount the City has ever budgeted for snow. It has been a multi-year goal to increase the amount budgeted for snow because it is the fiscally prudent thing to do, and it’s great that we have been able to achieve this goal. I believe the average over a five-year period is the prudent number, understanding that it also includes some escalation of material costs and labor.
  • It should be noted that snow removal is the only line item in which you are allowed to pay off the debt in the next fiscal year. That obviously should be avoided if possible.
  • One of the operational changes we made with an eye on some cost avoidance was the privatization of trash. This allowed us to utilize former trash staff for landscaping operations in summer and snow removal in winter. Why is this helpful? The answer is that in-house employees are cheaper than contracted employees, and I would also argue that in-house employees take more care and have a more personal connection to the community, which I believe equals better service. We have been able to decrease labor costs this year by 6% for the second year in a row.

Now for the bad news:

  • Our per-inch cost to remove snow is up to $12,800. This is much higher than in past years, due to the frequency of storms this winter. There have been many average-sized storms this year—not really big ones—but high-accumulation storms are actually cheaper due to the economies of scale. For example, last year most of our snow happened in one storm, which was a 29-inch storm. This year’s storms also have happened on weekends, which means straight overtime.
  • The increased regulations on the chemicals, or what some people call “salt,” that are used during ice storms have also skyrocketed. The cost for this chemical is up 6% and we have been using more of it than usual this winter, because of the constant temperature changes that have caused repeated freezing and melting cycles.
  • After the storm last night, we will have spent $1 million in snow removal, and it’s not even March 1. We have seen 25 inches more snow this year than the average—and we still have four weeks to go. We usually average about a foot of snow from February 20 to March 20. That could put us potentially at a half-million dollar snow deficit above the budgeted average. Why is that a big problem? We certainly understand that sometimes we are going to go above average, maybe $100,000 or $200,000, but half a million dollars is an extremely large number.
  • To put it simply, when we create next year’s operational budget, in which the City of Melrose will bring in about a million dollars in new revenue, the deficit, which we estimate at $300,000 to $500,000, will have to come off the top of that. This is a major blow to our ability to fund programming, be it public schools or anything else.
  • Coupled with that, according to the Governor’s budget, Melrose will only see a net increase of $6,200 in state aid. With revenues significantly over last year’s numbers in the state, this lack of revenue sharing with localities, which are dependent on this assistance, due to Proposition 2 1/2, is outrageous.

We will attempt to narrow the deficit in this fiscal year, but with the budget two-thirds done, the options are limited. Nonetheless, we will try. Our hope is that it will stop snowing, but obviously we cannot decrease snow removal services. We will, as we did last night, use mainly in-house staff, which may mean that we take more time to clean up after a storm. These tactics might be utilized, say, on a Sunday morning, or a weekend, when there is less traffic. But what needs to be noted is that the economic structure of Melrose, which is 96-97% residential, coupled with stagnant state aid and decreasing federal aid, leaves us terribly susceptible to these forces of nature at no fault of our own, and raises the risk of real negative impacts on core services that are critical and enrich our community. Unfortunately, that’s where we are today, on February 19, 2014.

Here are some facts about snow removal this winter:

Cost per inch of snow removal:

  • 2011-12: $11,950
  • 2012-13: $11,200 (big benefit from blizzard 29” all in one storm)
  • 2013-14: $12,800

40% of expenditures are chemicals & fuel .. up from 34% in 2012-13 .. again, see reasons above

35% of the budget are contractual expenses. Slightly down from 2012-13 (39%) and 2011-12 (47%)

Snow update

The snow is very heavy right now, and visibility is low. Our equipment is out but rush hour is going to be treacherous. Please be patient, take your time and use caution, especially on hills. The storm should be out of here by 7:00.

We have not declared a parking ban, but please try to avoid parking on the street if possible.

All questions should be directed to the Snow Operations Center, 781-665-0142.

No parking ban this evening

Yes, it’s snowing again, but we anticipate that the snow will end between 5 and 6 p.m., so at this point we are not declaring a parking ban. However, it would be helpful if anyone who has an alternative could avoid parking on the street.

As always, call the DPW Operations Center at 781-665-0142 with any snow-related problems or questions.

Melrose High School recognized for rigorous standards

More recognition for our Melrose High School in an article about the MassCore course of study, which is recommended by the state and increases requirements for mathematics, English, science, social studies, plus a foreign language.

The Melrose Public School district just north of Boston was among the first to make the MassCore course of study a requirement. “We’re asking more of students,” said Margaret Adams, the district’s chief academic officer. “If we help and support them and give them the tools to be successful, they rise to the occasion every time.”

Read more: Massachusetts Districts Adopt Rigorous MassCore Course Requirements for High School Graduates.

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