This past week, we bid farewell to current Cambridge City Manager Rich Rossi and welcome to the helm Mr. Louis DePasquale. Mr. DePasquale (or "Louie" as we call him around City Hall) is a long time employee of the city, having served in various fiscal management roles since 1975. I look forward to working with Mr. DePasquale in our efforts to keep Cambridge livable, affordable, and most importantly, focused on our neighborhoods.
The City Council also met this week to discuss, among other things, the city's property tax rate classification and the expected new buildout of the Lechmere T Station in East Cambridge.
The city has done an admirable job in keeping residential property tax rates extremely low. In fact, over the last four and a half years, while Cambridge has seen average home values increase by more than 57%, the residential tax rate has stayed roughly the same for a large majority of Cantabrigians. It's important to point out that two/thirds of all Cambridge residents are renters, and that part of the reason they rent is because they cannot afford to actually buy homes in the city. In efforts to help relieve this population of sky rocketing rents and further deal with our affordable housing crisis, I propose that we investigate ways to use tax dollars from a home's assessed value, to benefit those at the lower rung of the tax ladder. In the video below (4min 23sec), I request that we take a strong look at the residential tax classification system and ways that it can be improved in order to help the people who need it most.
The second piece of information that I wanted to share with you is about the planned buildout of the Lechmere T Station in East Cambridge. Due to unanticipated costs related to the Green Line Extension project, funding for the new Lechmere T Station is largely insufficient. The City of Cambridge is working with developers to bridge this financial gap but I think we need to do more. My fear, is that the new Lechmere T Station will look much like the Yawkey Way Station in Boston, which is a metal skeletal construction providing very little shelter from the elements like sun, wind, rain, and snow. Furthermore, it lacks any pleasing aesthetic quality. I understand the financial reality of the situation and am willing to accept it (albeit begrudgingly), but have requested that any buildout of the Lechmere T Station give the city the ability to make future improvements and enhancements. Considering the situation, I think it a reasonable request, and I look forward to getting it done in the future. In the below video (4min 49sec), I strongly suggest that the city "gracefully allow for the possibility" of making future design improvements so that our future T station may be first rate, just like the rest of our city.