Alderman-At-Large Will Mbah July Newsletter

Summer Recess approaches…but important work remains! In this newsletter I hope to tell you about the passing of the city budget, the progress on the Transfer Fee Home Rule Petition, my resolution on Cameroon, upcoming public hearings on the Demolition ordinance and recognition of the Union Square Neighborhood Council, as well as some construction updates/warnings.

1. City Budget

It took 12 board meetings of review and questioning that spanned 48 hours of meeting time, but we finally passed the city budget proposed by Mayor Curtatone. For newsletter readers who may not understand the city budget process, the Board of Aldermen does not write the budget, it only has the power to approve or reject it. The one power they do have when approving a submitted budget is the ability to cut items. They can’t add items in, only remove or cut. This time around, the Board of Alderman was able to save the city $1,132, 866 in cuts. No essential services were cut during this process. I hope the city can use this savings to put toward important future projects on housing, labor negotiations and public service initiatives.

2. Progress on Transfer Fee

The Transfer Fee Home Rule Petition passed by the Board of Aldermen made it through its first hurdle at the state house. After a Public Hearing before the Joint Committee on Revenue on Wednesday, June 20th, the proposal made it out of committee with a favorable review and will now advance to a secondary committee for further deliberation. Stay tuned for more updates and possible ways you can support its passage at the state level.

3. Cameroon Resolution

I was proud to present my Resolution to the Board of Aldermen on June 28th calling on the Cameroon government to address the current humanitarian crisis plaguing the English-speaking region. A special thank you to the activists Fru Nkimbeng and Ndi Ernest who passionately testified before the board.

This is a crisis the world needs to pay attention to, and it was great to have the support of my colleagues on the board.

Now, I need all of your support. Please sign this online petition calling on The Secretary of State of the United States and the government of Cameroon to act swiftly to resolve this crisis before it results in a civil war.…/resolve-the-humanitarian-crisi…

Thank you for your support!

4. Families Belong Together March

My story as an immigrant to this country is so important to my identity and the great love I have for this country and the city of Somerville. That is why I thought it was extremely important that I stand with immigrants and their allies at the Families Belong Together March in Boston. We must resist the awful immigration policies of this administration that are literally tearing families apart at our border. Immigrants and immigration have always been the backbone of this country, and it is time that we started treating everyone with the human dignity that they deserve. I hope you will join me at future actions/demonstrations as we resist against the policies of hate this administration enacts towards immigrants.

5. Public Hearings Upcoming

Two important opportunities to provide public input on one night, Monday, July 9th 6pm. The Board of Aldermen will take public testimony on the Demolition Review Ordinance (proposed revision) and Union Square Neighborhood Council designation.The meeting will begin with a 20-minute presentation by Planning Director George Proakis followed by the Public Hearing on Demo Review Ordinance.  Immediately following the first Public Hearing will be the second Public Hearing on the application of the Union Square Neighborhood Council (USNC) requesting to be designated by the City as the neighborhood council for the Union Square area.

I think that the model of the Union Square Neighborhood Council is exactly what I was campaigning for. We need democratically elected representation from the communities in which development is taking place. Community-led development is essential to maintain the social fabric of our neighborhoods and city. Please come down and testify on these important issues.

6. Construction Updates:

From the City of Somerville:

Beginning the week of July 2, National Water Main crews will be cleaning sewers along the eastern end of Somerville Ave. Drivers should expect isolated lane shifts around manholes between Webster Ave. and Medford St. so that workers can safely access those sewers. On-street parking may also be affected depending on the location of the work at a given time. These cleanings are expected to take about three weeks to complete. There are no expected impacts to water service as a result of this cleaning.

Barletta crews are also making progress as they work toward replacing an old water main beneath the Plaza. To do so, they need to set up temporary water service, remove the old main, then install the new piping. During their overnight operations this past week, they began this process by cutting into the main water line and installing two new valves. Prior to installation, the temporary water system will be tested the week of July 2, and once it’s determined to be working safely and effectively, select building services will be transferred from the old water main to the temporary water line.

During this cutover, anticipated for the week of July 9, a small subset of properties in the area will experience a short interruption to their water service. This interruption is only expected to last about one to two hours, and impacted properties will be notified directly by the City.

Excavation continues in Union Square Plaza as Barletta works to replace a 24-inch sewer line. The fenced-in work zone in the Plaza is expected to remain in place until late July. During this time, bicycle traffic should continue to share the lane with motor vehicle traffic on Somerville Ave. westbound.

Please note that construction will wrap up by noon on Tuesday, July 3, for the Fourth of July holiday. Work will resume Thursday, July 5, at 7 a.m.


Please refer to the project website for project background and other important information. If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact one of the project staff:

• Jess Fosbrook, City of Somerville Project Manager: 617-625-6600 ext. 5416,

• City of Somerville Construction Communications,

• The City of Somerville’s Constituent Service Center: 311 (617-666-3311),

I hope you and your families enjoy a wonderful summer! Stay tuned for news about an August fundraiser I will be holding here in Somerville.

Your Public Servant,

Will Mbah

Always feel free to reach out over email to sign up for the newsletter or to ask questions/voice concerns at or call me at 508-718-8126.

Alderman-At-Large Will Mbah

6 thoughts on “Alderman-At-Large Will Mbah July Newsletter”

  1. I think the thing is that we just had an election season & the people who got elected were the folks who want to do things like the transfer tax (as was stated in their campaign literature). It’s like you want a do-over because the print wasn’t big enough or something? Sure, having a scumbag in the white house helped them mobilize & their numbers will dwindle a bit, but hard to fault the Aldermen for ignoring the loud, cranky few who come to forums like this to whine about every little thing.

    1. to yet another poster,

      to me:

      a far more equitable system would be one where a lot more people involved are paying. it would broaden the base and lower the rate.

      And on Washington – the federal reserve has increased the money supply around three times since & after 2008. It resulted in pushing housing prices way higher.

  2. Those elected should at least answer all of the questions asked. Oh I get it, its not election season.

  3. Alderman Mbah,

    Please stop ignoring issues and go on the record on the negative consequence of the real estate transfer tax to property owners.

    If a private investor buys the property from a resident, and “the tax is imposed on the buyer, the buyer will simply reduce their purchase offer ” (RKG Associates – REAL PROPERTY TRANSFER FEE IMPACT ANALYSIS Somerville, Massachusetts October 2017).

    “Data show that Toronto’s 1.1% tax caused a 15% decline in the number of sales and a decline in housing prices about equal to the tax” (Journal of Economic Geography Advance Access published May 6, 2011)

    1. Do you believe that it is acceptable for current residents to indirectly pay for the tax, through possible lower home sale prices? A large portion of Somerville is non-owner occupied so moving forward a large portion of the buyers will inevitably a large portion of the buying market will be paying the tax and thus reducing their purchase offers. This is in line with economic theory, Somerville’s own report and empirical evidence. If so why was this not discussed or disclosed to the public?

    2. You clearly state that current residents will not pay the tax, but will current residents be indirectly impacted by the tax through lower offer prices?

    a. If you believe current residents will not be affected, do you have a source of information that counters Somerville’s own report by RKG, empirical evidence and economic theory. And if so, why was why was this issue not disclosed to the public?

    b. Will this assessment hold true when the real estate market is a buyer’s market?

    3. Were you even aware of this issue during deliberations? I wrote many emails to all Board Of Alderman highlighting this issue. If you were aware of this issue, why was this issue not disclosed to the public in any of the numerous fact sheets and articles written by Board of Alderman in support of the tax?

    1. Matt, you fail to understand that this is about what they want. End of discussion. This has nothing to do with what we want. It has become more and more about what the powers that be and not the wishes of the people. No matter how many facts yo give them it will not deter them from THEY want to do.

  4. we got our property tax bill yesterday. There was not ONE mention of the proposed property transfer tax and nothing on right of first refusal.
    How much would it have cost the city to inform ALL taxpayers of the current proposals? Is it supposed to be a secret? Did any of the alder people want to let people know that their wallets were about to take a hit in the thousands of dollars?

    I am against both proposals. I feel that if we want more affordable housing that it should include a lot more people such as the owner occupied properties *which get residential exemptions worth a few grand per year*. Or do a city wide income tax. Or do a moving into the city one time tax.

    If the city wants to slow down the condoization of multis, the city should be looking at ways to reduce the operating costs so the rents are lower (property taxes, water and sewer bills, eliminate block rate water billing).

    Maybe the city should be investing its retirement funds into rental housing. Then the retirees can decide what rents they want to charge which will be their pensions.

    How solvent is the city’s retirement funds? The state is funded around 62 percent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.