Last night, CM Bernie Lynch spoke a room of about 15-20 downtowners (and one civic-minded Centralvillean) at the City Building at MCC.
Lynch opened up by stating that this was part of his initiative to get out to meet and greet with each of the neighborhood groups. His goal is to get to each group roughly twice per year to discuss new developments and trends in the city.
While most of his other talks to LDNA (at least, in the two-year memory of this 'grow-in') have focused on the budget, this talk centered more on management.
The shift had to do with the fact that the city's books look better than they have in years past -- the surplus has grown significantly in the past four years (I scribbled the numbers but I won't write them here for fear of likely transcription error), while reserves on hand have shot up more than tenfold in that time.
As Lynch stated, previous actions to streamline the workforce (15% overall cuts) and to improve efficiency have begun to pay off in the form of a rosier financial picture.
The two major improvements that Lynch spoke about were in management and code enforcement. With respect to management, our adoption of software similar to that used in Somerville, Amesbury, and Baltimore, MD has enabled an analyst (Michael Herbert) to catch patterns that direct city resource allocation as well as other facts that otherwise may have slipped through the cracks (like the yet-uncollected fines leading to liens on property that could be worth as much as $250k to the city).
Lynch also spoke in some detail about recent streamlining in city code enforcement, which has cut out previous inefficiencies (such as people needing to drive all around the city to go from office to office for various licenses), and has improved the perception that the licensing process takes place on an uneven playing field.
That perception, he added, is dangerous if it scares off would-be investors in the city. Speaking of which, Lynch talked about several major employers actively looking at mill spaces in which they would place as many as "hundreds" of white-collar jobs.
This Thursday (30 SEP), the unveiling of the latest round of Jeff Speck-inspired proposals for downtown will be unveiled at the Lowell Plan breakfast.