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City Seeking $3.2M Interest Free Loan For Projects

New Brooks Estate road, school security system cameras, police cruisers among items that could be paid for by an MWRA loan.

The Medford City Council approved a first reading of a paper Tuesday night that could eventually lead in the procurement of $3.2 million in loans from the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA).

The MWRA loans are interest-free and can be used for any purpose and not just water improvements, Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn explained to the council during a committee of the whole meeting.

Before the end of the year, the MWRA approached McGlynn about their Local Pipeline Assistance program.

McGlynn said the city had a balance in its account from zero or low-interest loans approved by the council.

Under the program, the city could produce documentation for all water work appropriated from city accounts dating back to 2000 and applied to be reimbursed for that amount.

McGlynn said that total for Medford comes to $3.2 million. If the city goes forward with participating in the program, McGlynn currently has $1.43 million in projects for which the money can be used.

The remainder would be used to "replenish" accounts previously used for the water improvements.

The biggest project McGlynn proposed for the $1.43 million was $950,000 to build the road to enter Brooks Estate.

Also, McGlynn is proposing $150,000 for a complete upgrade to the school system's security cameras. He also discussed purchasing five new Medford Police cruisers, new identification system equipment for police, a new pumper for the Medford Fire Department and lighting improvements in the city.

The council will have to give the plan three readings before it is approved by the city and then the MWRA would have to give their approval.

"Nothing's done until it's done," McGlynn said.

During Tuesday's regular meeting after the committee of the whole, the council voted 5-1 to approve the first reading. 

Although he voted in favor of the reading, Councilor Robert Penta expressed some concerns on behalf of taxpayers. He noted the city will have to pay back the loan to the tune of $320,000 a year.

"Even though this is a zero interest loan, you still have to pay it back," Penta said.

Councilor Breanna Lungo-Koehn voted against the reading, expressing "reservations" about the loan payback amounts.

"My reservations are about the years where we have to pay that back," she said.

Councilor Michael Marks was not present Tuesday evening.

James Toms February 13, 2013 at 01:44 PM
I don't understand how this can be considered anything more than a tax increase. The projects which generate eligibility for the loan have been completed and paid for (or are being paid for) and they have been included in previous budgets. To borrow this money and use it for new projects will only increase the liability for the City in future budgets. If budget discussions could happen and then be reduced by $320k for the next ten years, this would be a terrific way to fund that portion of the city's budget. However if future budgets are increased to include the $320k, this is nothing more than increased taxes for the citizens of Medford. The identified projects are worthy projects and should have the benefit of open and full debate with prioritization as the next year's budget is reviewed and approved.
Jeanne Martin February 13, 2013 at 02:15 PM
Dear Neighbors, consider that there is no such thing as "free money", we will have to pay it back, or lets say more accurately your kids will have to pay it back - but it is interest free. While I do agree with the mayor on a couple of the items like the cruisers, I would warn you that last night they included a $900,000 loan for the roadway leading up to the Brooks Estate. The Brooks Estate is a luxury for this city to borrow against. The public needs to know how the mayor and council is spending your money. I couldn't disagree with this more. We have a police station to rebuild. Consider that $900,000 is just shy of 1 Million dollars - for the road alone. This is not considering the 2.3 million for the Brooks Estate itself. What could this city do with $900,000 dollars in necessary projects for this city. Mr. Penta is also on the board of the Brooks Estate and should recuse himself from voting on anything to do with the project. He can not be objective. So, let's cleave off the Brooks Estate portion of the no interest loan in the second and third readings. Let's move forward on the cruisers and other five improvements which benefit the entire city and are a special interest. Respectfully, Jeanne Martin
raymay February 13, 2013 at 08:37 PM
I am personally looking forward to massive layoffs at City Hall. Whenever I sit there, it's McGlynn's cronies sitting around on their larded petards.

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