Lowell, Massachusetts

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Administrative Officials
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Transparency grading process
Lowell is a town in Massachusetts.

Introduction

Lowell is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. According to the 2010 census, the city's population was 106,519. It is the fourth largest city in the state. Lowell and Cambridge are the county seats of Middlesex County.

Website evaluation

The good

  • Budget information is available via search on the city's website.[1] Information extends back to 2008.
  • Minutes and agendas for city council meetings are available and searchable online.[2]
  • Many names and direct emails for department heads are listed on the website, on one page.[3]
  • Zoning codes are available online.[4]
  • Building permits and forms are available online. Lowell, Massachusetts. Permitting/
  • Real Estate Taxes and Motor Vehicle taxes[5], can be paid online. Residential and commercial tax rates[6] are all available online.

The bad

  • Council members names are posted. However, emails are not. Councilors are contactable by a web form.[7]
  • Information on audits were either unavailable or difficult to find.
  • Invitations for bids and requests for proposals were posted on the website. However, individual contracts or bids over $10,000 were either unavailable or difficult to find[8]
  • Information on taxpayer funded lobbying was either unavailable or difficult to find.
  • Public records do not seem to be searchable online. Additionally, only information on vital records is available on the city's website.[9]

Elected Officials

Lowell has a "Plan E form" Council-manager government. There are nine city councilors and six school committee members, all elected at large in a nonpartisan election by proportional representation. Elections are held every two years. The City Council chooses one of its members as mayor, and another as vice-mayor; the mayor serves as chair of the council, serves as the seventh member of the school committee, and performs ceremonial duties.

The current members of the city council as of September 2011 are:

  • James L. Milinazzo (Mayor)
  • Kevin P. Broderick (Vice Mayor)
  • Edward C. Caulfield (Councilor)
  • Franky D. Descoteaux (Councilor)
  • Rodney M. Elliot (Councilor)
  • William F. Martin (Councilor)
  • Joseph M. Mendoça (Councilor)
  • Rita M. Mercier (Councilor)
  • Patric O. Murphy (Councilor)

Administrative Officials

Administrative Officials are hired at the discretion of elected officials. They help maintain the functions of a city and often carry out the legislation passed by government bodies. However, administrators often make policies that effect voters significantly, even though they are not elected.

City Manager

The administrative head of the city government is the City Manager, who maintains the city's day-to-day functions. He or she is hired by and serves at the pleasure of the City Council as whole. Lowell's current City Manager is Bernard F. Lynch. His full contact information is available on the city's website[10]

Lynch has released 2011-2012 strategic plan for Lowell. It is available online.[11].

Spending

The City of Lowell's budget is available in PDF format on their website.[12]

Lowell, Massachusetts spending, FY 2010 - FY 2012 Adopted (Abridged)'
' FY10 Actual FY11 Approved FY12 Request FY12 Manager FY12 Approved
Personal Services 46,237,528 49,447,761 49,927,378 50,007,735 50,007,735
Ordinary Expenses 7,895,505 8,881,324 14,157,322 13,787,047 13,787,047
Debt Service 20,323,433 19,580,311 17,951,592 17,951,592 17,951,592
Health Insurance 23,628,463 25,797,928 27,087,824 26,131,093 26,131,093
Retirement 15,025,159 14,710,890 15,791,900 15,791,950 15,791,950
Medicare Tax 2,019,450 2,000,000 2,100,000 2,100,000 2,100,000
Unemployment 837,607 745,000 745,000 745,000 570,000
Workers Compensation 873,905 592,000 592,000 592,000 692,000
Legal Claims 1,439,822 1,050,000 1,050,000 950,000 950,000
Trash Removal 5,661,313 6,000,000 6,000,000 6,000,000 6,000,000
Surplus/(Deficit) 16,986,404 15,897,892 13,715,357 15,701,160 15,701,160

Transparency and Public Records

The City of Lowell, Massachusetts does not have its public records request processing guidelines posted online. However, fees are available for records request.[13]

Taxes

Lowell, MA FY 2011 Tax Tates (Per $1000 assessed)[14]
Residential Commercial, Industrial & Personal Property
$14.27 $29.73

More information about taxes, revenue, and rates are available in the city's budget.

Emergency Personnel

Police Department

Lowell, Massachusetts employs its own police department. The current Superintendent of Police is Kenneth Lavallee.[15]

Fire Department

Lowell employs 201 men and women in the city's fire department. The current fire chief is Edward J. Pitta.[16] The department is sometimes called to serve neighboring communities.

External links

References