Somerville's city charter gives the City Council the power to make cuts to the Mayor's proposed budget, but the council cannot add or reallocate funds to the budget. To the great frustration of many of us, that won't be changing even with the entirely new proposed charter the council sent to the Mayor last year.

The good news is that the current administration has requested City Council input on budget priorities from individual councilors all three years so far, prior to building the budget. As the Chair of the Finance Committee, I thought it would be helpful for the council to come together and identify our top shared budget priorities. So on Tuesday, March 26, at 7 PM, we will meet as a Committee of the Whole for the third year running to attempt to do exactly that.

You can attend the meeting in person in the City Council Chamber at City Hall (93 Highland Ave) or watch virtually on Zoom. We will start with a trip around The Horseshoe with councilors stumping for their favorite individual budget priorities to garner support from colleagues. Then councilors will complete a survey to express their support for up to 10 top budget priorities. Following a short recess for tabulation, we'll reconvene to hash out resolutions for the areas receiving the most support, with the resulting resolutions being sent to the Administration in advanceof their work putting together the FY25 budget.

For an administration acting in good faith, this shared budget priorities process gives them something manageable to respond to with a memo explaining how they did or didn't address council budget priorities when the proposed budget is released. If we had an administration acting in bad faith, this is a safeguard against them simply funding low-hanging fruit from councilors' individual budget priorities -- or things an administration already was planning to fund anyway -- and touting these as proof of integrating council priorities into the budget.

Here are some other things happening around Somerville:

Reuniting the Wildcats

Wildcats Can't Wait yard sign

On Friday, March 8, the Winter Hill Community Innovation School (WHCIS) community received an email from Somerville Public Schools with distressing news about the highly-anticipated reunion of the WHCIS Pre-K and K classes with the rest of the school. The email explained that a change to the assessed value of the Edgerly building now housing WHCIS meant that the work scheduled for this summer to renovate the basement of the building for Pre-K and K classes could not proceed as planned. Under state regulations, when renovation costs over a three-year period exceed 30 percent of that building's assessed value, this triggers mandatory accessibility and other code upgrades. Therefore, SPS was alerted WHCIS families via that email to the possibility that the planned reunification of the entire Pre-K to Grade 8 WHCIS community under one roof in the fall was up in the air. More

FY25 budget priorities public hearing recap

The Code of Ordinances requires a public hearing on the mayor's proposed budget every June. But at that point the community is left commenting on a meticulously prepared budget that already has made tough decisions about how to allocate limited budgetary funds. when the City Council added language requiring a public hearing on budget priorities prior to the beginning of the budget creation process, it seemed like a good idea to give that a try this year. So on Tuesday, March 19, the Finance Committee -- meeting as a Committee of the Whole -- held a public hearing on exactly that. More

Somernova, Take 2

Somernova property plan

I had written about Rafi Properties' original Somernova master plan and zoning amendment petition back in early February, before it was due to come before the Land Use Committee. Then came word Rafi Properties was withdrawing their petition and would be coming back with a revised proposal for the 7.4 acres between Union and Porter squares in Ward 2. While we don't know exactly what this revised proposal will look like, I have my theories based on conversations with the developer and City staff. More

Emergency Response Community Workshop

RSJ Emergency Response Community Workshop

The idea of an unarmed civilian response to non-violent emergencies is one that enjoys broad support in our city. From the City Council to constituents to the police, I don't talk to many folks who don't think this is something we should be pursuing. What divides opinion is the form this program would take: who is responding (clinicians or members of the community), what model that response uses (co-response with a police officer or just a civilian), and where this program would be housed (within the Police Department or another department, like Health and Human Services).

The City's Public Safety for All Task Force is hosting an Emergency Response Community Workshop on Wednesday, April 3, from 7 to 8:30 PM in the cafeteria of Somerville High School. I plan on being there unless there's a City Council committee meeting scheduled at the last minute for that night, and I hope you'll join me.

Morrison Ave sewer community meeting

Morrison Ave sewer community meeting

I get a lot of pleas for help from residents in the Trum Field and Ball Square areas as a result of the flooding many of them are experiencing in their homes as climate change gives us more and more extreme rainfall events. As part of our City's obligation to modernize our sanitary and stormwater sewer systems, there is work planned for Morrison Ave in 2026 that should bring some degree of relief to some streets. The community is invited to a community meeting on Monday, March 25 at 6 PM on Zoom to learn more about the work and give feedback as we approach the design phase. 

CPA funding resident survey
Somerville's Community Preservation Act funds improvements related to affordable housing, historic preservation, open space, and outdoor recreation. The City is currently surveying the community ahead of the FY25 funding cycle. Please take the survey and attend the public hearing that will be held via Zoom on Wednesday, March 27 at 6:30 PM.

Multi-member body opportunities
The City of Somerville's multiple-member bodies (boards, committees, and commissions) are a great way to be an active part of our city and contribute to the community. The Administration currently is seeking members for the following multi-member bodies:

Did You Know...
Not a governmental fact this week, but rather an important food safety tip that many people don't know: Leftover rice quickly can become contaminated with a bacteria called Bacillus Cereus, or B. cereus, if it is allowed to sit out for more than an hour. If you want to eat leftover rice, make sure to get it into the fridge or freezer as quickly as possible after it is cooked, and don't eat rice that has been in the fridge for more than 24 hours. Ask me how I know...

Donate to fund this work

2024 Jake for Somerville ActBlue donation form

Office Hours
Come join me and Ward 3 Councilor and City Council President Ben Ewen-Campen for our joint office hours at Culture House Union Square (64 Union Square) on Saturday, March 30 at from 1 to 3 PM.

If you can't make this or you'd prefer to meet individually, you can find a date and time to meet with me that works for you via my Calendly.

The week ahead
Here's what I'll be attending this week, if you're interested in joining me:


Jake Wilson


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