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From The Desk of Methuen Mayor Bill Manzi


As I approach one year in office as Methuen’s Mayor I would like to take this opportunity to discuss our achievements as a community and our goals moving forward. During the course of the past mayoral campaign many critical issues were discussed, and we are taking the steps necessary to implement a positive agenda for our citizens. Lets look at some of the critical areas. 

Our educational system: The consensus view during the campaign was that Methuen needed to immediately address the issues at our High School. We have moved expeditiously on that front, submitting a Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority that places us in the system for a major renovation to our High School. With the moratorium on School Building Assistance scheduled to be lifted in July of 2007 we are poised to make the case to the State for Methuen’s inclusion in the first round of funding. SBA Executive Director Katherine Craven has visited Methuen High School and hosted a Methuen delegation in Boston. We have also had State Treasurer Tim Cahill to Methuen and made our case directly to him. We will continue to make this a priority for Methuen. Methuen’s Statement of Interest is posted online at
www.ci.methuen.ma.us

Methuen’s new Superintendent Jeanne Whitten has been faced with some class size numbers that were less than desirable. She acted quickly to address these concerns by adding staff to insure that our class sizes are conducive to a positive learning environment. She has also created a citizen committee to deal with this issue on a longer-term basis. 

One of the issues most talked about has been out of district students attending Methuen Public Schools. Our new Superintendent and the School Committee have made this a priority and strong measures have been taken to identify and remove those attending our public schools improperly. We have taken the first steps and will continue to work diligently in this area. I have pledged to the Superintendent that where needed city resources will be given to aid the schools in this effort.

Veterans Services: Part of our core responsibility in government is to provide critically needed services to our Veterans community. In that regard we have acted quickly to improve those services. I have re-located the Veterans Service Office to our first floor at the Searles Building, providing substantially easier access for our veterans. I have requested, and Methuen’s City Council has generously agreed, to create some clerical assistance for our Veterans Service Agent Ed Curran. Mr. Curran has been handling a substantially increased caseload without the benefit of such assistance. Our Veterans will be the beneficiaries of this improved ability to deliver the services that they need. I thank the City Council for their willingness to agree to such an important improvement.

Planning: When I took office our Planning Department was in transition, with a part time director and key vacancies. Additionally the management structure was disjointed, and honestly needed overhaul. We submitted to the City Council a re-organization of that Department, creating one full time Economic Development Director, eliminating a Department Head position, and re-organizing the support staff to insure that land use and Economic Development work together to produce the best results for Methuen. Our goal has been to integrate our permitting, so that business looking to come to Methuen can deal with one person. I was fortunate to have hired Karen Sawyer Faust as Methuen’s new Economic Development Director. For any land use or business questions please email Karen at
ksfaust@ci.methuen.ma.us .

Business: In addition to re-organizing planning to create a one stop shop for business I have created by Executive Order a Mayoral Commission on Business regulation. This Commission, chaired by Councilor Joseph Leone, has been tasked with examining our regulatory burden and finding ways to reduce or eliminate duplication or needless regulation. Additionally this Commission will examine the ways in which citizens interact with government, and seek ways to reduce expense and paperwork for our citizens. The use of Information Technology will be a key component in that effort. In line with that the City has produced a brand new website that is a big improvement over the prior version. It is accessible and contains some interactivity that we will build on in the future to create additional opportunities for citizens to get information and do business with the City over the Internet. This new website was created in house without the hiring of a consultant. My thanks to King Lough and John Molori, who worked very hard to produce the new site in addition to all of their other duties.

Recreational Opportunities: Methuen provides terrific recreational opportunities for our kids. These opportunities are the result of the hard work put in by all of our youth groups, and the partnership with the City. In an effort to foster greater communication between the Youth Groups and city government I have, by Executive Order, created the Mayoral Commission on Youth Sports. The Commission consists of every major youth organization in Methuen, and is charged with fostering better communication amongst themselves and the City. Methuen’s Recreation Director Bill Pare has been instrumental in making this a success.

I would also like to thank Fred Corey, the President of Methuen Youth Soccer, who has generously agreed to chair this group and was instrumental in its creation. Methuen is also blessed to own the so-called former Bea’s site, and has received a state grant of $250,000 to make improvements to the site. It is one of the parcels we talked about improving during the campaign. As part of our Master Planning process I have appointed a Committee chaired by City Councilor Deborah Quinn to study and recommend what improvements should be made on the site. Councilor Quinn’s Committee is continuing to meet, and will likely soon issue recommendations. Please drop Councilor Quinn a line at
drquinn@ci.methuen.ma.us if you have any comments or suggestions.

Fire Department: With new Chief Clifford Gallant on board I have recommended, and the City Council adopted, management changes to our Department that will make the Department easier to manage and more reflective of standard management practices. I am grateful to Chief Gallant and the Fire Union for working together to produce change to help modernize our management structure.

Finances: Despite an operating deficit inherited we have managed to steady our financial house and make steady strides forward. Our free cash position has just been certified at about 2.3 million dollars, and the budget cycle we are in dramatically reduced the use of one-time revenues. Our bond rating remains strong, and the city’s financial position has continued to improve. We remain millions below the Prop 2 Levy limit, with strong business growth. With continued fiscal discipline and a positive business climate I believe we can manage these difficult financial times without the need for large tax increases.

It has been a busy year, and one that I have truly enjoyed. I look forward to continuing on a positive and upbeat political path. I have had a truly great working relationship with this City Council. My thanks to Chairman Zanni and the entire City Council for working positively to bring a great number of initiatives to fruition. I look forward to another great year in 2007. Please call or drop me a line at
wmmanzi@ci.methuen.ma.us


 



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The November, 2006 Edition of the Valley Patriot
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