NEWBURYPORT — Mayor Donna Holaday delivered her first “state of the city” address as a mayor serving a four-year term, and indicated that she and her team have six key ongoing priorities in coming years.
They are to sustain the city’s double A-plus bond rating; complete ongoing capital projects on time and within budget; take advantage of new uses for the Brown and Kelley schools; complete a major update of the city’s master plan; come to agreement on the central waterfront; and develop a capital plan for sports and recreation needs.
Holaday spoke about much more in her illustrated PowerPoint presentation, but she focused on areas of interest that she said are in good shape at the moment.
The mayor said that the city’s recent upgrade to AA+ will mean the saving of thousands of dollars as it borrows for voter-approved schools and a senior/community center.
She added that the city has $2.4 million in free cash, which she said was the highest ever. The tax collection department has collected 98 percent of property taxes owed to the city, marking an improvement over recent years, she stated.
Holaday said that the $38 million Bresnahan School (42 percent state money) is 70 percent finished and the $28 million rehabbing of the Nock/Molin complex (45 percent state money) is 65 percent completed.
She said the new Bresnahan Elementary is on schedule to open this fall.
Holaday said that the Brown and Kelley schools will likely have new uses in coming years.
She indicated that the Brown might be used for youth activities, in part because it has a new outdoor playground and a functioning indoor gym. City officials are soliciting suggestions for other uses of the South End structure.
Holaday indicated the Kelley School might be closed and its after-school programs transferred to the Brown.