Joint Session City Council 4-19-22

Two Sessions, 4 Lawsuits, 2 million bucks takes up Gardner MA City Council 4-19-22

The Gardner MA City Council held two separate sessions on April 19, 2022.   First was a Joint Convention of the City Council and School Committee.    The only action taken at the joint session was to approve sending a response to the Scott Graves complaint identified in the packet.  Passed by unanimous vote.

Following the joint session, the Gardner City Council held its regular meeting which lasted for one hour until the cameras went dark for an Executive Session to discuss various matters including 4 lawsuits against the Chair City.

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During the regular City Council meeting, an extra $10,000 was approved for trash receptacles to be installed in Downtown, $75,000 was approved from free cash for landfill expenses, and $1.8 million was unanimously approved to borrow for completion of paving of certain streets. A large slate of appointments was also approved.

Dispute over language in Mayor Nicholson’s request drew some comments from City Councilors

Councilor Boone questioned whether blaming the Russian invasion of Ukraine for the increase was factual. Councilor Boone stated he thought it was wrong to make this political as it is obvious oil prices had gone up well before the Russian invasion. “Why are we bringing this political Russian invasion into our discussion.  It happened way before.  Everybody knows it.  They just don’t want to say it.”

Mayor Nicholson responded that asphalt has recently increased in price from $70 per town to $94 per ton.   He said the cost would have been $104 per ton, but the contract signed 2 years ago had offered some price protection due to an escalation clause. 

Councilor Boudreau stated “Political or not, left, right, or center, I don’t like spending money either, but it’s a dead fact that things are more expensive than they were 2 years ago.  Whether that’s because of a politician or a policy is really unknown.   Some of it is the war, and some of it is Covid, but at the end of the day, we are in the middle of a job and we budgeted a certain amount, and outside factors changed that.  I know I am not a war strategist or a Covid doctor, but I know that we do have to deal with a ongoing and open project where the cards fall. And that’s what we’re doing here tonight.”

Councilor Dernalewicz “I just like to make it clear to Councilor Boone the point was to mention the existing factors that are in the world that led to the increase, not to make any political statement. I’m not sure where you’re getting that, but the point was to say that this is what led to the increase in costs and I’m not making any comment on it any further.

So Who Is Right?

Answer: All. The average closing price of oil per barrel was just under $40 in 2020, up to $68 in 2021, and about $96 in 2022. As we all know from seeing the price of gas and home heating oil climb in the last year, the War in Ukraine simply made already high prices even worse. Oil is used in the production of asphalt and therefore any increase in the price of oil will increase the cost of paving. The Mayor was explaining that due to smart contracting on the part of the City of Gardner, the City is protected somewhat from higher prices of asphalt (about $10 less per ton) until the beginning of the next fiscal year. Therefore, any projects completed before July 1st stand to save Gardner money.