City Council Uses Free Cash To Fix Overrun Account
By: Andy McKeever On: 09:59PM / Tuesday June 28, 2011
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city drained its free cash account Tuesday to cover a shortfall in veterans' benefits.
The City Council approved transferring $163,833 from free cash to cover the overrun account and even more reserves are expected to be used next month to finish off the 2011 budget.
The transfer had to be completed before the end of the month before the state freezes that account.
The city saw a boost in the number of benefits the city has given to 48 different veterans. The state will reimburse the city 75 percent of the benefits but not until next fiscal year.
"A lot of it's outreach and a lot is the economy," Mayor Richard Alcombright said. "It's about $100,000 more than the year prior."
Alcombright pointed to the depressed economy to explain the sharp increase. Veterans' unemployment benefits are running out and they must now turn to the city, he said.
The deficit only covers the benefits for North Adams veterans, Alcombright said when asked about the shared agent with Williamstown and Adams. The city pays for the agent and the other towns pay the city proportionately, which enters the budget as revenue. Earlier this year, Williamstown also reported an increase in benefits given out.
"The only thing we see at city hall is North Adams cases," Alcombright said. "The benefits and salary gets split."
The move nearly drains the free cash account to finish off the fiscal year, which ends next week, he said.
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You mean you have to have money on hand for overruns????
I though you could spend the accounts down to zero in the budget and never worry about it.
Nevermind.... that was John Barrett bragging about the time he almost took the city into default in 1990. Dummies.
I wonder how Cardimino would have reacted if they said "No" to city based veterans benefits. I wonder how they will be affected in next year's budget. Shouldn't those be a federal expense, anyways?
Maybe Bloom was drinking his TEA! Writing his resignation as the Finance Chair maybe? The arrogance of Bond is getting to me as well....
It's almost as if they were thinking the over ride vote never happend.
And just an observation.....if you look at the Transcript today you would think the meeting last night never happened...again selective reporting. Even iBerkshire, which has just 2 reporters...was able to make it.
Anyone know where Bloom and Lamarre were?
Alcombright when asked how much was left in
Free cash, " I don't know." How come the Council never asked if the transfer would cover the entire short fall in the Veteran's account? I guarantee that the money put into the Veteran's account will not be enough. Say what you want about JB but he got the job done and he did it without an override. By the way did you ever stop to think how the city survived with 3.5 million in cuts over the last few years? I'll tell you why, JB put money away and please don't say he took it from the medical fund because that dog just don't hunt anymore.
There were plenty of times Barrett didn't attend council meetings. The mayor is not required to attend the meetings. Did you ever think he had another appointment to go to? I remember when Barrett didn't attend meetings until Marden got Cardiminow under control.
It's summer time. Bloom and Lamarre could have been away on vacation with family.
Hey Taxed Enough - If you are such a cretin that you "enjoy" putting people out of work, etc... You just might be a psychopath.
Yes, there will be cuts and such. Yes, this is a democracy and the Nos won because some people did not want to, or could not, dig any further. But that does not mean that they are enjoying their neighbors losing their jobs.
And follow money - You are crazy if you don't think that, not just paying the $800K settlement, but the $2.1 million that was used to pay bills instead of going into the insurance trust as mandated by law did not allow John to avoid the tough decisions that he kicked down the road to Dick. That's NOT getting the job done, unless you see "the job" as beginning and ending every fiscal year. It's your kind of short-term thinking that has made this mess much worse than it needed to be.
Editor: This one was edited too. This this the third and last time. No name-calling. You can comment about the story but you can't wage personal attacks. I will be deleting comments. -Andy McKeever. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
I hate criticizing BUT this Mayor and the council was elected by all of you and the rest of the citizens. Instead of all the complaining, which is kind of amusing, fix this in the next election. Take back control of your city that is fast turning into a pit. Population is declining and the school system is worthless. Take a ride through the neighborhoods and it says it all. Your property value is going downhill fast. Very sad.
NLG- This would be funny if it were not so misguided.
Property values are low because the schools are bad. The schools are bad because of the poverty in North Adams. It was the elderly low-income population in North Adams that just defeated an effort to maintain the schools.
Poverty begets poverty. One set of folks who receive checks from the government just made sure that a different type of check receiving population will be able to find cheap rent and will keep moving here when other communities get too expensive. There kids will continue to be more expensive and more difficult to educate and the schools will stay near the bottom of the state. Congrats.
Guess what? Your property values dropped even lower on June 21st and you don't even realize why. When the working family down the street leaves for greener pastures, don't be shocked.
Diogenes- I am the cynical one this time. 75% means that we are still paying 25% of a federal benefit. That seems odd. I think that career and combat vets should be well taken care of, but why is that partly the job of the municipality? Aren't the states and the VA better equipped to handle such distributions?
NotLookinGood is Notthinkinwell. Going downhill fast? The population has been declining since the 50s and took a steep dip from the 80s to the 90s. Population dropped 20000 to 14000 when JB was in office and now people want to blame Alcombright? The school ratings are better now than four years ago when they were red flagged by the state. People this special election felt education was good enough to take cuts and not be effected by it. I wish my property value dropped so I wouldn't have to pay as much taxes. It increased $100000 the past ten years and I did nothing to my home. That was JBs way of not raising the tax rates. He doubled the value instead which doubled my tax bill.
I agree with Just Me. The federal and state are already taxing us to pay for veterans. Now we get hit a third time with local taxes required by law. I support our vets but $300,000 of local taxes to help support the vets who can't find jobs? That should be the federal government paying the whole amount. Unlike the federal government who can have an infinant amount of debt, local towns and cities are required to balance a budget. An extra $100,000 or 20% increase this year towards that is heavy when the budget is being slashed and cut everywhere else is unfair. The city has no say in this as its another state mandate.
If your going to require the truth then stop the false statements being made. There were never 20,000 people in North Adams when John Barrett was Mayor. In fact you will find there were around 14,200 when he took office. There was never any prof that the medical fund was underfunded by 2 million dollars,just more union claims. I would suggest that the Alcombright defenders stop trying to disparage John Barrett's service to our city and start urging Dick Alcombright to do the job he was elected to do. He promised jobs, no high taxes, work on the Mohawk, work on our schools, helping the poor along with many more promises that have not been kept. The failures of this administration to keep its promises are numerous. Since Dick Alcombright became Mayor we now have higher taxes, a sewer fee and benches. Not an impressive 18 months! North Adams sent a loud and clear message to this Mayor and the city council, lets hope that they got the message. The message is not about cuts being made, the message is that the majority are not happy with the direction in which the city is going.
Editor: In the 1980 U.S. Census there were 18,063 people in North Adams. In 1990, there were 16,797. You are both wrong. Why does everything have to devolve into the Barrett/Alcombright fight? -Andy McKeever.
I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Hey Phlip the population dropped almost 7% since the last census. That's the biggest drop ever. You do bring up a good point though...time for assessed values to go down. Good luck with that one.
I still find it unbelievable that a city can be found responsible to repay millions in benefits that were "mismanaged" and there are still people hoping for that type of management back in North Adams. Why don't you just come out and say "I don't care if what we do around here is legal or not, just as long as I pay less tax". What's wrong is wrong (even if it is good for our pockets) and to turn a blind eye is wrong too.
Andy- You asked why everything comes down to an Alcombright versus Barrett scenario?
The answer is very simple. Barrett cannot walk away with dignity. He has to show up at meetings and try to defend his actions that helped create this mess. But to do so, he attacks the current mayor, lies about the insurance trust (two independent audits and an opinion from the state DOR said he screwed up), threw the city treasurer under the bus because she did what HE told her, misrepresents what he did in 1990 to make it look like Dick had the option to spend the reserves in FY 2012, ignored the rules of the council during the city council meeting to direct his comments directly at the mayor rather than through the president of the council who was running the meeting, had the gall to accuse the current mayor of not funding the schools as well as he had, and generally acted like the bully he was for 26 years.
Then we can address the fact that in his final meeting as mayor, he sucked out almost $600k of the reserves rather than raise the levy, saying that we can pay for it later. Had he raised the levy in December 2009, the override vote would not have been required.
Some people still believe and based their No votes on his lies and distortions. Some of us who pay attention (unlike 98% of the electorate) are not going to let him, or his supporters (who would love nothing more than 26 more years so that they can get back to own little Stockholm syndromes) get away with revising history.
John was very effective most of the time. The last few years, though, he was scrambling. He ruled with an iron fist, caused a lot of people to not want to do business in North Adams because everything (I mean every last detail) had to go through John Barrett rather than just being handled by the boards, commissions and inspectors.
If the economy was better, it would be much easier to ignore the sour grapes, but people are lashing out because of the pain and need scapegoats. Since most people cannot think past the end of the day, let alone in a continuum, they blame the easiest targets rather than than actually look at the big picture.
And THAT is why every city issue becomes an Alcombright versus Barrett - we live in an A.D.D. world.
Editor, sorry you are having to put up wiht the former administration bashers and tax hikers. Sadly, since their ideas of raising taxes during a recession have never worked, and were clearly voted down, all they can fall back on is personal attacks. I feel sorry for them. I would welcome a logical arguement for raising taxes during a recession.
hey editor . Last week we had the the most importannt vote in two years and what happens. The first council meeting after this vote , two councilors are a no show and the mayor rushes out the door well before the end of the meeting??? It seems like they did not get the message. Voters are tired of elected officials doing their job.
Editor: What exactly did you want them to do? They don't have a new budget yet. The vote is already done. -Andy McKeever. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Hey Justme, property values are not low because "the schools are bad." They are low because the housing stock is very old and has not been maintained well by a population that is primarily low to moderate income, and by select landlords who take the money and run. The per capita income in North Adams is significantly lower than almost any other community in the area. Your knowledge of the economy is off base.
Almost every pro-side prophet claimed that the city's taxes were "lower than almost any other city or town in the state," and yet when you review the DOR certified tax rates for FY 2011, North Adams' rate of $14 per thousand is average. There are 201 other cities and towns with lower rates than $14 per thousand. Our actual "dollar" figure taxes seem lower because of the poor value of the housing stock, since the tax levy is based on the overall value of all properties.
I voted for the Mayor, and I have had discussions with him about this. He is fully aware of why our valuations are low - and it's not the quality of the schools. It's the lack of quality of our housing, where we have some major landlords who take every dime out of their rents for profit and put nothing back in renovations and upkeep, and one of them feels he is not obligated to even pay most of his real estate taxes. His back taxes alone would have helped to narrow the budget gap.
@ No Taxes
I suggest you look at the national job data by state looking a which states have had job growth since 2009 and which states have failed to get off the ground. Those which have slashed are flailing while those who cut less and kept revenue flowing are doing better.
Raising taxes at the federal level during a recession is problematic on a macro level, but these are local taxes and only have a an effect on the micro level. They do not affect the economy as a whole.
Republican/Limbaugh orthodoxy on various taxes has been shown time and time again to be absolutist and incorrect.
Econ, that has to be the worst arguement ever made, and it completely false. As a former Economics major, it doesnt matter who raises the taxes, the point is people have less disposable income to spend. Never, not once in this century has raising taxes resulted in economic growth. Only by cutting taxes has, like Reagan did, and oh yes...a liberal guy from Massachusetts named Kennedy...
The two biggest periods of growth in the past 50 years happened after very large tax increases in '82 and again in '93. On the flip side, growth was anemic and eventually fell off a cliff after the largest cuts in recent history for the past decade.
Data is stronger than conservative dogma. You would have made a poor economist.
Too bad you had to explain this to the Mayor. After 10 years on the Council and telling us how he was going to improve housing stock and he still does not get it. Mayor Barrett understood your philosophy and went after these landlords and he took down what seemed like a hundred houses. I think you voted for the wrong guy as did a lot of us.
The Alcombright people were very good at making it appear during the last election, and still do, that Dick Alcombright is Mr. Handsoff and John Barrett was a control freak. Lets take a look at the real facts. The first thing the Mayor did upon taking office is to remove Bill Schrade from the School Committee Negotations committee and make himself Chairman. This was done so he could take care of the teachers. The Mayor then appointed a school building needs committee made of mostly city employees and made himself the chairman. He would have gotten away with his plan for Conte if the state did not catch on to his tactics. He told the people wanting to open a business that they no longer had to get a permit from the Planning Board and all they were required to do is send him a letter and he would approve their plan. Another example is when he ordered the Health Board to recind their vote on fees as it would cause him "political problems". Guess what they had to vote to recind the increase because some of the businesses complained. Or how about when another business was denied a permit because they owed back taxes and he ordered the inspector give the business the permit. Save your propaganda about this Mayor "empowering boards to do their job without interence from the corner office. It is too bad that the press does not report these things as it is going on right under their noses. Everything I have said is factual and did happen. If Marie Harpin did not question what was happening with the Planning Board the Mayor would still be contolling the process. Good job Marie as what you did took courage. The rest however continue to look the other way.
Editor: These are some pretty serious allegation here. Can you prove them? -Andy McKeever I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Econ, I am sorry but you are dead wrong. Taxes were decreased in '82 by Reagan, and that resulted in the largest period of peacetime economic growth in US history....followed by the early sixties after Kennedy dropped the highest mariginal tax rate from 90 to 27 percent.
Not sure where you are getting your info from, but it is not accurate.
Editor: Alright, we should probably try to move this discussion back on track. This story is about an overrun Veteran's Services account in the city of North Adams. -Andy McKeever I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Editor The voters expect them to show up at meetings. If they can not or do not want to show then step down. As far as the mayor , I have been to almost every council meeting and this was the first time the mayor has walked out. It is not just the budget it is about doing the job they were elected to do. Why have council meetings if the councilors do not show ??
No taxes - Reagan cut in '81. In '82 the nation was still in recession, but raised taxes anyways. There was massive growth spike, caused mainly by Volker's fed policies that brought inflation back under control. During the huge spike, the fed had to increase the prime to cool off inflation's return. Then taxes were hugely raised again on the middle and working classes in the social security deal. By 1988 most of Reagan's cut was gone.
The '93 hike predicated the longest period of sustained growth post WWII.
Growth in the 60's has nothing to do with your absolutely false premise that "Never, not once in this century has raising taxes resulted in economic growth." But I'll tell you what, Let's go back to Kennedy era rates, or better yet Reagan's. If we did that you would have to admit that taxes in 2011 are lower than they have historically ever been in the modern US economy.
It's clear you believe what you hear on the radio or read on right wing blogs rather than what the facts are. Have a nice day.
Is it common that the editor and the other reporter(s) are constantly chiming in to correct everyone and let them know when they are off topic. I just started reading these forums recently and it seems like the editor and others can't just stay out of it. What's up with that? I can understand deleting things that are out of line, other than that let 'em talk! It's starting to sound a little arrogant and maybe even biased. Ease up.
Editor: Yes. It is common. We consider ourselves moderators. If you would like a free-for-all "forum" there are others out there. We prefer that the comments on our website be relevant to the story and without personal attacks or foul language. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
"Keith" seems to love half truths. There its nothing scandalous here at all. He sounds like just another crony who lost all his influence when JB3 lost.
Aside from the smears perhaps you should check out exactly what the purview of the Planning Board is, and how their approval is not needed unless there is a change of use. They were Barrett's gatekeepers. Their votes were always predetermined by the mayor himself. They forced businesses to jump through hoops that were not required, but that the mayor wanted. They used their leverage to mandateoperational details of businesses that they had no right to interfere with. At least now the board had their own discussions and does their own examinations.
And if someone is going to complain that Mayor Alcombright uses the permitting process to his advantage, when the facts are that Barrett used to sick the inspectors on his perceived enemies ask the time while ignoring problems with his crony's businesses?! Give me a break.
As for the chair reassigning duties on boards... The problem with that is....?.
Grapes don't get much more sour than this guy Keith's.
I just read that Glenn Beck's final show after getting sacked by Rupert and Roger was last night. You must be in mourning. So sorry for your loss.
And you are 100% incorrect about attendance at meetings. People miss meetings and work all the time. If you read the charter, Council meetings are the the Council's, not the mayor's. Dick shows up as a courtesy unless he is asked to appear (which I don't believe he have has formally been asked to do.)
Just because you seemed to envision a meeting where Marie Harpin would wield a sword and start singing a song of victory, with everyone else hiding under the table, does not mean that that was going to happen. The actual business of the city is far more important than your tea-party fantasies. When the slashed budget is presented later this month, then you can start your whining again.
Not sure if Keith is Maries's son or a fictional name. Either way he is way off. Barrett was the school committee chairman for 24 years. Why should it be different for Alcombright. One line he's complaining he changed the way it was. In this case your complaining he kept it the same way Barrett had it. Make up your mind.
The school building committee was made up of parents, teachers, elected councilors and school committee members, principals and all the meetings were public from day one. What else would he want, a meeting in his kitchen so he didn't have to drive to them?
Kudos to Mayor Alcombright for trying to make the business process easier in North Adams by streamlining the process for everyone. Marie Harpin claims victory that she now made it harder once again for businesses to open. Real smart Marie.
I'm still annoyed with how much iberkshires allows to be posted. Rumors, lies, false information. insults, and a bunch of BS. They get a little slap with a post that says "stop it" and two posts later another lie or insult is posted, with another warning. It's left there for the world to see, get angry and does nothing but devide the community. Topix is bad enough why does iberkshires feel it needs to lower themselves more clicks?
Editor: Moderating these discussions are not nearly as easy as you would think. You say we don't do enough, another posters says we do too much. We love that people can use our site for discussion. Sharing opinions and talking about issues is what democracy is all about.
However, venom pervades everywhere and judging who goes over the line and separating opinion from attack is tricky and pretty subjective.
We are in constant discussion on the best way to manage comments posted on our site. We hope to install a registration process in the near future. -Andy McKeever. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Hay just me Do not believe anything you read in the Left Wing papers about Glen Beck. You and others on the left will wish he was back on for only one hour a day. Stay tuned.
You must be broken hearted about the election. How do you like Tea. As far as the budget I will not be whining, the voters of the city have spoken so stop your whining. The budget should have been cut a year ago. It took the Majority of voters to force the mayor to do his job. So slash away please.
The mayor RAN out the door during the last meeting to avoid hearing from the public. Perhaps Mr. Bloom did not show for the same reason.
So have a cup of TEA and a nice day.
So again....I get that you don't want personal attacks or foul language. I have been reading these things for days now and that's not the case. You decide what's relevant and you comment whenever you feel like it. That's not a moderator. Let's not get dramatic, no one is asking for a free-for-all. Either get in the conversation or stay out. Don't just get involved when you don't like a comment.
Everything said is factual. It is your job to find out if they are true. Start with the Health Board and see their minutes or ask a member. Ask Bill Scrade if he got dumped or look at the minutes of the School Board. Ask the Health Inspector if he was told to give a license to a local business by the Mayor even though they owed the city taxes. Start digging and you will find other special favors given to another business who owes the city a lot of rent money.
By the way I'm not Marie Harpin's son.
Editor: FYI: Keith has not dug up anything. Keith claims certain things have happened and then says go check the minutes but offers no actual proof. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Keith, I am going to ask you to do your own digging. Please correct any of the following if they are wrong.
In his public comments, Mr. Schrade, a person I think exemplifies North Adams' hard working ideals, makes every effort to say that he is retiring from the school committee because he has served long enough. There is absolutely no mention of the negotiating stuff or being forced off the board. None. Zero. Nada. If he said something in private to you, then you should really think twice before betraying his confidence again.
Go ahead and ask Manny about the permit. While I don't trust anything you say, even if it is true, is there an ordinance requiring a business to be fully paid up to get a health permit? Manny has a ton of integrity and would not do something illegal, so I have to believe that your charge is trivial at best.
Why on earth would the board of health go back on their vote unless they were presented with a good reason? They are not paid by the Mayor and volunteer their time. If what you allege to be egregious behavior is indeed fact, why have none of them resigned or publicly protested? I've been persuaded to change my mind by people who make good arguments. (Obviously a skill you lack.)
As for rent, the mayor has publicly said that the city should get out of the commercial landlord business. I take this to mean that the city doesn't make much money and that it is a burden that is best handled by the private sector. With that in mind, I know several businesses that are in arrears with their rent to private landlords, but are making good faith efforts to catch up. Why should the city be any different? Do they have potential tenants knocking on their doors who will pay the rent?
The fact is that you can see anything in this city as a negative, or you can view it through the lens of reality. You obviously have a chip on your shoulder and seemingly nothing short of John Barrett becoming mayor again will make you (or Marie Harpin) happy. Barrett made far more under the table moves, back handed deals and hand picked board members for loyalty rather than expertise. Why don't YOU look that up and get back to us.
In the mean time, I am going to enjoy a beer on my patio. This is too lovely an evening to spend inside.
:: Preliminary Election: Deadline to register is Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Office open from 8 to 8.)
:: General Election: Deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 18
Registration can be completed at the city clerk's office at City Hall.
Absentee ballots are now available at the city clerk's office for the Sept. 27 preliminary city election. Voters may come in between the hours of 8 and 4:30 weekdays. Written reguests for mailed ballots can be sent to City Clerk's Office, 10 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Sept. 26, at noon.
The preliminary election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, to narrow the field of three mayoral candidates to two. The general election to select nine city councilors and a mayor will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.