Sep 18, 2020

North Adams City Council Finance Committee Budget meeting

May 29, 2019
Meetings & Notices

North Adams City Council Finance Committee
Budget Meeting
Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 6:30 p.m. — City Council Chambers
• Call to order
• Approval of minutes
• Discussion and review of final budget
• Open budget issues
• Requested reports and five year capital improvement plan
• Budget recommendation
• Adjournment
Marie T. Harpin
Chairperson, North Adams City Council Finance Committee
Posting date: May 24, 2019
cc: Mayor Thomas Bernard
Michael Canales
North Adams City Council Finance Committee
Budget Meeting Notes
Wednesday, May 29, 2019, 6:30 p.m. – City Council Chambers

Call to order: 6:32
Attendance: Councilor Cohen, Councilor Wilkinson, Councilor Harpin all here.
Attendance other Councilors: Councilor Bona, Councilor LaForest
Approval of minutes from meeting #5, General Govt and Compensation plan
Motion to approve by Councilor Harpin, Second by Councilor Cohen, Councilor Wilkinson abstained, motion approved.

Discussion and review of budget with changes from 1st draft:
• Stipend for City Council Committees - Councilor Harpin summarized the communication recommended to Finance Committee by Councilor LaForest regarding how we pay stipends for note taking at city committee's and commissions and how difficult it is for City Council committee's to do their own notes at long, well attended meetings.
Mr. Canales noted some receive $100 per month, it's more than meeting notes, it's also filing notices after meeting for regulatory boards, files grants and grant assurances and boards that make final decisions. Others paid $50 per meeting.
Councilor Bona, some minutes are really small and not every meeting have items that are filed. What are alot of papers? Canales said some meet more than once a month.
Councilor LaForest, top end boards are making final decisions but council committee isn't making final decision? Mr. Canales said no, final decision made at Council.
Councilor Wilkinson, not good at notes was more at directing meeting. Not all committees need help with minutes but Finance Committee is more cumbersome.
Councilor Harpin, indicated it was difficult to keep notes, direct the meeting and participate all at once. The Council was under budget last year, is there extra room this year? Can we use some of our own budget that we don't use?
Mr. Canales - we can change line description.
Councilor Wilkinson - who would decide what meetings would get? Would be in council rules.
Councilor Laforest - The City Clerk gets same stipend as other boards but our meetings are longer and go on 12 pages sometimes and she gets the same pay of $100 per month.
Councilor Wilkinson - clerk is in ordinance and would need to make change to the ordinance but we can request budget line ahead of ordinance change.
Councilor Bona - last night's council meeting was 3 hrs and Clerk will get 50 bucks for it. our meetings are 2 -3 hrs. Some other committee meetings go half hour and some our unpredictably more time. Majority of meetings are not too difficult and chair should be able to handle and this responsibility.
Mr. Smith, responding to Councilor Bona and stating some will be new councilors and should have some training and assistance
Recommendation to Mayor - Councilor Harpin made a motion to change line for City Council Expense to Legal notices - Secretarial and change amount from $4,000 to $5,000, second by Councilor Cohen, all in favor.
• Assessor office manager line adjusted down $7,041 due to retirement and new hire per Mr. Canales
• City Clerk Clerical part time clerical adjusted up $6,000 for larger than normal elections in fiscal year with spending up to City Clerk. If additional funds needed, they can be requested at time per Mr. Canales.
Councilor Cohen indicated we need to keep an eye on this as more funds may be needed.
Councilor LaForest noted the City Clerk in Pittsfield make $70,000 per year and has a staff of six.
Councilor Bona indicated Pittsfield is much larger than North Adams.
Councilor Harpin indicated it was still the same job tasks and this is a significant job in the city.
Recommendation to Mayor – Councilor Wilkinson made a motion to recommend the City Clerk get a stipend of $100 per City Council meeting for note taking, second by Councilor Harpin. All in favor.
• Law Department Expenses adjusted down by $5,000 based on analysis that last year we had two cannabis community host agreements and a court case that we will not have in 2020 per Mr. Canales.
This became a long discussion initiated by Councilor Bona regarding the City Council having full access to legal advice as council had in the past. The issues raised by several Councilors (Bona, LaForest, Wilkinson, Cohen, Harpin): The Council is a separate legislative city body that should not be hindered to legal issues/questions by the Administration. There are times when Councilors will need to contact legal for ordinance issues or other legal questions that should not be reviewed/approved by Administration. The administration of questions through council will need to be set up through council rules to limit what type of questions and who can request to keep expense line to a minimum.
Mr. Canales indicated there are times when questions can be answered by city leadership who have been to training on issues or can provide Mass General Laws.
Recommendation to the Mayor – motion made by Councilor Cohen to add an expense line for City Council for Legal in the amount of $5,000, second by Councilor Wilkinson, all in favor.
• Mayor Salaries (Mayor)- Councilor Bona indicated it’s been since 2009 since there has been an increase in the Mayor’s salary.
Councilor Wilkinson agreed the Mayor salary was low.
Councilor Cohen said if the Mayor can increase the Administrative Assistant salary then he should increase the Mayor salary to maintain the integrity to the service of the city.
Recommendation to the Mayor – motion made by Councilor Wilkinson to increase the Mayor’s salary by $4,000. Second by Councilor Cohen, all in favor.
• Mayor Salaries (Administrative Assistant) – Councilor Harpin said the increase of $3,623 for Mayor’s assistant seemed high as she was hired in 2018 and essentially this was her first year.
Mr. Canales indicated she also has stipends from planning board and conservation board.
Councilor LaForest said it was a 7.75% increase.
Mr. Fierro said she was moving into a new step as she came in with experience and this moves her to the five year increment increase.
Councilor Harpin said the classification plan is based on year’s of service to the city, not year’s of previous experience.
Recommendation to the Mayor – motion made by Councilor Wilkinson to change increase of Administrative Assistant to 3%, which is $1,810. Second by Councilor Harpin, all in favor.
• Office of Tourism Director Salary, Mr. Fierro stated this is an adjustment that was missed due to her hitting her five year service to the city adjustment. This is an increase of $1,356.
• Treasurer, Salaries total decrease of $17, 893, due to some restructuring which will now be three full time and 3 part time employees, per Mr. Canales.
• Public Safety Administration, Salaries decrease of $9,903 is also restructuring with one full time and one part time employee, per Mr. Canales.
• Building Inspector, Salaries increase of $1,257 due to step increase of long time employee (16 years), per Mr. Canales.
• Animal Control, Salaries increase of $6,209 for Animal Control Officer. Councilor Wilkinson stated the job is a continuous on-call job and requires immediate attention when issues arise for any animal control.
• Fire, Salaries Overtime increase of $12,015, Mr. Canales stated this was adjusted due to issues with workers comp.
• Tuberculosis increase of $200, not in original draft budget in error.
• Visiting nurses increase of $8,075, not in original draft budget in error.
• Police Salaries, decrease of $56,898, Mr. Canales stated this is due to the retirements and expected hire of four new officers.
• Public Services Salaries, decrease of $9,944, Mr. Canales stated this is due to a long time employee leaving and a new hire taking the position.
• Library Salaries, increase of $1,343, Mr. Canales stated due to new Liberian.
• Capital Expenses Road Paving, increase of $10,000 for potholes as requested by Councilor Harpin.
• Interest Expense, decrease of $7,403, due to audit with provider per Mr. Canales.
• Debt Expense, increase of $480, due to audit with provider per Mr. Canales.
Other questions:
Several Councilors asked questions on the report provided for parking meter revenue which was showing sticker revenue in the report as well. Councilors were concerned about accountability of position that pays $10k for collections and maintenance of meters and making enough revenue to pay for cost of operating. Mr. Canales stated he would get another report specifically for the revenue of parking meters. In addition, we would check to see if there are counters on the meters to indicate what was put into each meter for tracking purposes.
Councilor Harpin asked about the cost of security monitoring service at Council on aging as addressed by Gail Nelson. Mr. Canales indicated the city will pay the yearly cost.
Park and Recreation stipend for note taking of $600 was an outstanding question asked by Councilor Harpin to review if still needed. Mr. Canales stated the Chair of committee takes notes.
Recommendation to Mayor – Motion to delete the stipend for note taking for Park and Recreation of $600 made by Councilor Cohen, second by Councilor Harpin, all in favor.
Mr. Sapienza asked about the Family Leave Act and Mr. Canales sated the City Council can adopt but feels city is already covered.
Due to long agenda and getting late, Councilor Harpin opted to postpone reviewing requested reports and five year capital improvement plan to another meeting TBD.
Councilor Harpin motioned to Adjourn, second by Councilor Cohen, all in favor.
Meeting adjourned: 8:45 p.m.

cc: Mayor Thomas Bernard
Michael Canales