Worcester City Council Preview: Plastic Bags, PILOT Program, and Problem Properties

Worcester City Council Preview: Plastic Bags, PILOT Program, and Problem Properties

WORCESTER – The Worcester City Council meets Tuesday night, September 17.

Ahead of each City Council meeting, ThisWeekinWorcester.com [TWIW] will provide a preview to help keep readers informed of the on-goings of the city’s governing body.

Each preview will highlight items from the City Council agenda for that week that haven’t already been covered by TWIW.

This week’s preview consists of the City’s plan for plastic checkout bags, an update on PILOT programs, and what’s the City doing with its problem properties.

How the City Might Enforce a Plastic Bag Ban 

At the August 13 City Council meeting, City Councilor At-Large Moe Bergman requested that City Solicitor David Moore look into what is being done at the State level in regards to banning single-use plastic checkout bags.

A plastic bag ordinance is currently pending before the City Council. In Massachusetts, 122 cities and towns have already enacted a ban.

In response to Bergman’s request, Moore states the following:

  1. In Massachusetts, there are two general plastic single-use bag bans: one that measures the bags thickness at four mils or less, an another at three mils or less. The one before the Council is a ban on plastic bags three mils or less. 
  2. Another variable is whether or not to charge a fee for plastic bags. State legislation proposes a flat ten-cent fee or allow the retailer to impose a fee. The proposed Worcester ordinance would charge a fee of not less than five cents — which would be retained by the retailer.
  3. The final item to consider is whether or not there will be a statewide uniform ban of plastic bags in the future. The proposed Worcester ordinance would supersede any statewide action if enacted before a statewide ban takes place. 

Lukes Wants Update on PILOT Program

City Councilor At-Large Konnie Lukes is requesting a status update on the City’s PILOT [Payment in Lieu of Taxes] programs with the colleges and other non-profits in Worcester.

Lukes is requesting information on PILOT programs instituted in the past ten years and those that are currently still in effect.

The PILOT program agreements require that nonprofits like local colleges pay the City in predetermined lump sums or in percentage of property values in lieu of paying property taxes. For example, for the past ten years, WPI has paid a percentage of the property value of more than two dozen residential student housing properties. This year’s payment was for more than $700k. 

Along with WPI, the City current has PILOT agreements with Holy Cross, Clark, MCPHS and UMass Medical School. 

 

Mero-Carlson Wants Clarification on City’s Problem Properties

District 2 City Councilor Candy Mero-Carlson is requesting that the City Council be provided with a list of all current problem properties in the court system or foreclosure process.

Mero-Carlson is also asking City Manager Ed Augustus to provide the City Council with an overview of the system the City uses to track problem properties and to provide follow up on issues concerning said problem properties. 

 

Lead photo credit: Great Beyond on Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-SA


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  • Worcester City Council Preview: Plastic Bags, PILOT Program, and Problem Properties 1

    Patrick Sargent is the founder and lead reporter for ThisWeekinWorcester.com. He was born and raised on Grafton Hill and is a graduate of Holy Name high school and Worcester State University. Over the past two years, he worked as a contributing reporter for the Worcester Sun. Previous to that, over the course of several years, he had stints with GoLocalWorcester, Worcester Magazine, the Leominster Champion and Fitchburg Pride. He is the owner of Sargent Media, LLC and can be contacted at [email protected] or 774-232-1223.