Highlights of what we’ve accomplished recently
Plastic Bag Ordinance
The Plastic Bag Ordinance officially passed at the March 8th City Council Meeting. Since then, we’ve stood up a group now known as “Newport Re-uses” that is working with the schools, local nonprofits, and other organizations to distribute reusable bags across the city. The bags were able to be purchased by the City through a generous donation by a local resident, Lisette Prince. The distribution of these “Newport Re-uses” branded bags will be focused first on low-income residents, students and their families, and senior citizens.
Communication & Transparency
At the May 1 Budget Workshop, the Finance Department provided the first demonstration of OpenGov, a collaborative, cloud-based budgeting application. The City Council approved the purchase and usage of the OpenGov software in February and while data is still being input, it was wonderful to see how the software has helped streamline the budgeting process. OpenGov also allows for more transparent viewing of the City’s finances. I highly recommend that everyone take a look.
At the March 22 City Council meeting, we approved a contract with CH2M Hill/Rafteli’s Financial for a Stormwater Utility Study. This study will provide recommendations on if a separate stormwater utility is a viable and appropriate option for Newport and provide recommendations on what such a utility would look like for our city.
The City of Newport has received a $1M grant from RI Department of Environmental Management to construct the First Mile of bike path in Newport! This is fantastic news and this funding comes out of the Green Economy Bond that was passed in the 2016 election. Stay tuned for more updates on construction.
During the April 1 Workshop with Newport’s Legislative Delegation, increasing the hotel tax and the meal & beverage tax was discussed. These revenue from these taxes would not go into the general fund, they would only be able to be used on the schools and infrastructure needs. Our infrastructure needs are increasing and school facilities will need lots of work in the coming years. At the April 26 City Council meeting, resolutions were passed asking the General Assembly to allow the City to increase the meal & beverage tax and supporting a bill that would increase the hotel tax.
Economy and Innovation
At the April 26 City Council meeting, the Council approved two ordinances directly related to renewable energy. We approved entering into a Memorandum of Agreement with the Town of Middletown to form a Purchasing Cooperative. This will allow Newport and Middletown to jointly negotiate the purchase of renewable energy. Tied into that agreement is the ordinance passed to hire the consultant Clean Energy Development with Middletown to provide services and recommendations on renewable energy projects.
There are multiple Workshops on the proposed 2018/2019 Municipal Budget planned throughout the month of May: May 8, May 11, and May 25. All Workshops will take place at 5:30 pm at City Hall in the Council Chambers. Additionally, there will be 2 hearings on the proposed 2018/2019 Municipal Budget at the May 10 and May 24 City Council meetings.
More meetings and events will be added to my website’s calendar as they are planned, so keep an eye out.