PHOTO BY BETHANY DOANE
Revere High School students Erin Mahoney, 15, Gabriela Barroso, 15, Savannah Hart, 17, represent RISE (Revere Intersectional Support for Education) at City Hall.
By BETHANY DOANE
REVERE — Online services that will make local government more accessible was one of the city’s highlights lauded by Mayor Brian Arrigo in his State of the City Address Monday night at City Hall.
“Online services means you won’t have to wait in line at City Hall,” Arrigo said to a packed room of more than 100 people.
Construction of a new 31-constituent call center is underway, so residents can call, text, tweet, email and Facebook Revere city staff members to resolve community issues, he said. “The call center will open new avenues of conversations for residents, and allow city staff to collect and analyze data to improve management practices.”
A new online database tracking all Inspectional Service reports reduced response times to resident complaints to less than two business days. Additionally, residents can now pay property taxes, excise taxes and water bills online.
“I like the new innovation of technology; we’re seeing the fruition of hard work to update technology from the past few years,” said Tony Zambuto, Dean of City Council.
Making services available to everyone through the internet was a much-needed change to the establishment, said Dimple Rana, a Revere resident and City Hall employee. Family members used to speak to City Hall staff through Rana because going there in person was too overwhelming, she said.
Arrigo, who also promised more government transparency, will propose a new ordinance to bring Revere into full compliance with state ethics and conflict of interest laws. “Our first training with the State Ethics Commission will take place in March.”
As far as the city’s 2018 fiscal budget goes, Mayor Arrigo said he’ll ask department heads to hold the lines on costs, while investing in the city’s infrastructure.
The project on Revere Beach Parkway will become a reality this year, bringing a new hotel to Revere for the first time in 20 years, and providing hundreds of jobs. The $3.63 million Infrastructure Program grant Revere received to kick off the Revere Beach Parkway project will also allow the city to improve water delivery, sidewalks and pedestrian access to the Beachmont neighborhood.
A pressing issue to the city’s budget is the disrepair of the water and sewer infrastructure, which resulted in a multi-million dollar EPA consent decree for violations of the Clean Water Act. Arrigo said his administration is seeking to extend the consent decree term to alleviate future rate shock.
He also said the administration will be even more effective in the city’s battle against opioid addiction. He launched a new Substance Use Disorder Initiative office last year and the office reports that overdose calls went down 24 percent in 2016.
To build on the battle against addiction, Revere will secure funding for a school-based program about prescription pill abuse, starting in middle school, he said.
“I’m concerned about opioids, and I’m on board with the mayor’s efforts,” said Kathleen Heiser, president of the Beachmont Improvement Committee. Heiser said she lost her daughter to opioid addiction in November of 2016.
Lastly, the mayor had a special message to the city’s immigrants.
“This is a city that has always thrived on immigrants,” he said, as the room erupted in applause. “For new immigrants to Revere and to your families: we are richer for your presence and proud that you sought to make a better life for yourselves in our community. Remain proud of your heritage, and be proud of your new home here.”
Students representing Revere Intersectional Support for Education (RISE), and Women Encouraging Empowerment (WEE) also had a message for immigrants. “We support inclusion and we’re here to welcome the public with open arms,” said Savannah Hart, 17, a student at Revere High School.
The message of inclusion resonated with other community members.
“As a lifelong resident, hearing the mayor welcome Revere to everyone makes me proud of my city and our mayor,” said Rana.