Councilor DiFlorio Proposes Practical, Tangible Changes to Improve Lives of Residents

At the meeting of the City Council on Monday, April 8, Councilor Rosa DiFlorio introduced three separate resolutions that she believes would make life easier for Everett residents.

•Trimming Treacherous Trees

According to Councilor DiFlorio, trees are no laughing matter.

According to some of her constituents, the overgrowth of some poorly positioned trees have caused wind-whipped branches to lash out at the faces of unsuspecting passersby.

“Small trees are hitting people in the eyes,” explained Councilor Wayne Matewsky.

Councilor DiFlorio is requesting that all trees under six feet tall have their branches trimmed to avert a public health crisis, and not just in her ward but across the city.

“They should make this a priority every spring,” she said. “I want something in writing the next meeting to see what their plan is.”

Councilor Michael McLaughlin mentioned that the Council had been told that the City had put out an RFP to address the tree situation and he wondered what the progress of that was.

“I had a conversation with the arborist,” said added Matewsky. “There are a lot of dead trees in this city.”

The matter was unanimously voted and the Council hopes to hear solutions from the City at the next Council meeting.

•Easing Water Bill Woes

Payment of water bills has been causing headaches in Everett.

Councilor DiFlorio heard from the City’s Chief Financial Officer Eric Demas about what could be done to remedy that.

“We want to start maximizing technology and making residents’ lives easier,” Demas said.

He reported that the Water Department received a grant to “revamp” its website and put out an RFP to seek a web developer.

“We’re looking for something different with a focus on [usability],” said Demas. “We want to make it easy for anybody on a smartphone or tablet.”

The CFO noted that with the changes to the website, residents will be able to make payments online, as well as access permits and other resources.

“Let’s get it functional and easy for our residents to conduct business,” he said.

Demas also announced that residents would be able to set up automatic monthly payments.

“We’re developing a paid platform to make it easier for the residents to pay their bills online,” he said. “You’ll be able to set up [autopay] automatically.”

The autopay option would be based on the actual bill amount each month and not a fixed amount like most autopay options.

Demas noted that lines and wait times at the Water Department were already down.

•Extending a Warmer Welcome

Currently, when new residents move to Everett, there is no single place they can go to find out how to access local resources. Councilor DiFlorio wants to change that.

Tony Sousa, the director of the City’s Department of Planning and Development, addressed Council to discuss how Everett can create a physical “welcome packet” for new residents.

The packet would include information about voting, registering children for school and paying bills online. Councillor DiFlorio also wants new residents to know who their elected officials are and how to contact them.

She also emphasized that a physical packet was important for people who didn’t use computers.

“It doesn’t have to be fancy or cost a lot,” Councilor DiFlorio said. “We don’t want to make this difficult. We want people to know who we are, what we do and what our programs are.”

She also added that the packet should be made available in multiple languages.

Sousa reported that the Planning and Development communication team is already working on a welcome packet.

Councilor Peter Napolitano wanted to know how to track new residents arriving in the city, especially if they are renting and not buying homes.

“I want to make sure we have a means to reach out to these people,” he said, mentioning the idea that landlords could be required to disseminate the packets among new tenants.

Councilor DiFlorio also mentioned that not only new residents would benefit from a resource booklet.

“You could have been here 50 years,” she said. “You could have these books at City Hall or the Senior Center.”

Sousa said he is eager to work with the Council to realize the project.

The Council voted to revisit the matter in one month by which time Planning and Development will have come up with a rough draft for Council that can be sent to committee to review.

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