At the final Town Council meeting of 2019, Town Manager Austin Faison shared a number of updates with the community.
ZenCity is a company that collects public data from a town’s social media platforms, news channels and 311 calls and uses it to inform local governments about what concerns are most pertinent to residents. It also claims to be able to measure public support for specific town projects.
According to ZenCity data for the month of November, the most discussed issue in town was human relations and services, with 2,529 interactions, a 153% increase over the monthly average. Other popular conversations centered around education, public safety, political affairs and cultural affairs. Sentiment analysis showed that 58% of public sentiment was positive, compared to the 39% monthly average. Projects featured in conversations included the middle school site redevelopment, the 2020 Census and the Eruzione Center.
Town officials can use the data provided by ZenCity to inform its decision-making going forward. For example, an analysis of SeeClickFix showed that the launch yielded low public discourse but high positive sentiment. This may mean that more needs to be done to increase public use of the program. An analysis of Veterans Day conversations showed that residents were most interested in individual veterans and less interested in the Town Hall ceremony honoring veterans. A suggestion was to use individual veterans stories when publicizing events in order to boost attendance and engagement.
Faison announced that he wants to continue to grow public participation in SeeClickFix, as it is currently the most direct way to report infrastructure concerns to DPW. He noted that submitting work orders makes the town aware of issues, but does not guarantee a specific timeline for addressing them.
Residents access SeeClickFix on their computers or smartphones and directly report on things that need attention where they live and work. Town officials then manage the assignment of issues and communicate back to the citizen on any progress made.
On December 17, department heads attended an offsite training on anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, including sexual harassment. According to the state website, Massachusetts Law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and employers are liable for the sexual harassment by senior employees. Employers with six or more workers are required to develop a written sexual harassment policy and are futhermore encouraged to provide training on sexual harassment at regular intervals.
Winthrop received grant funding from the State for the purchase of computer and technological hardware, and vehicles for the DPW.
Faison made a point to thank retiring Council President Ron Vecchia, and Councilors Linda Calla and Heather Engman for their service to the town and leadership to the community.
The Fiscal Year 2020 tax rate was certified by the Bureau of Accounts for Winthrop.