I chaired a Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 12, 2024. We met for exactly 30 minutes to cover a short, four-item agenda. The item that generated the most discussion from the committee was a request from the Administration to bond (borrow) and appropriate (spend) around $2.2 million to take part in the state's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund for the Lead Line Service Replacement program. This is a great financing option that features an interest-free loan with some degree of loan forgiveness. We expect a lower rate of loan forgiveness than the approximately 45-percent loan forgiveness we received last year, but it's still a good deal for the City.

Lead Line Replacement Program update

The Lead Water Service Replacement Program is a great example of your municipal government making the lives of folks better, by incentivizing property owners to replace lead water lines by doing that replacement of entire length of their property’s lead or other non-copper water service line, at no charge to the property owner. Normally, the property owner would be responsible from the curb to the dwelling, but this program covers all of that.

I asked questions about the current contract and the procurement process that will be used to ward the next contract. I was chiefly interested in how we're ensuring contractors are paying the prevailing wage, a special minimum hourly rate that certain jobs are paid. The goal of this is to prevent a race to the bottom where non-union labor benefits from lowest-bidder preferences in our procurement process to undercut bidding by paying less than union outfits are able to pay.

In the end, we unanimously recommended approval of this mayoral request, then recommended acceptance of a state grant of around $14,00 for firefighter safety equipment and approval of an order to transfer $1,000 from the City Council's Legal Services Account to our Office Supplies Account in order to create a children's space in the City Council Chamber. A number of colleagues didn't even realize this was something we could do until this item appeared before the council, so we'll be delving into the legal and procedural aspects of the reuquest.

Jake Wilson


Somerville City Councilor-At-Large (he/him/él)