Home About Archives RSS Feed

Overtime, Snowstorms Put Budget In Red

Tammy Daniels

Public Safety Commissioner E. John Morocco explains why the public safety salaries are running above budget.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city is running a deficit in several of its line items — including police and fire — because of unexpected costs.

Four accounts are significantly over budget or close to being emptied. Police and fire have accounts that have expended more than 80 percent of their balances because of overtime; the snow and ice account is more than $84,000 in the red and the veterans account is expected to be $170,000 over.

The update was the first of what Mayor Richard Alcombright said will be regular budget control reports to the Finance Committee.

"We were budgeting for the exact dollar salary ... we kept the budget accurate and projected overtime but we didn't project for four [officers] to go to the academy and we didn't project for five firefighters on long-term disability," the mayor told the committee on Tuesday. "That's something to keep in mind as we begin budgeting for next year."

Public Safety Commissioner E. John Morocco said the department paid extra officer salaries for about 48 weeks to cover four officers at the academy plus two long-term disabilities on the force. Morocco said it was unusual for four officers to attend the academy in one year. It was caused by the number of retirements and departures and the fact the state scheduled the academies back to back. Another officer has retired as of March 1 and that means his replacement will attend the next academy.

Morocco did note that some revenues, such as the $15,000 reimbursed by the Solid Sound Festival last summer for overtime, do not show up against his budget but in the general receipts.

Nevertheless, "we're looking at a very sizable shortfall here but I think you're going to see there are a lot of smaller things that we — turnbacks — use," said the mayor. "There are some places we will not spend up to our budget."

The snow and ice account, the only account municipalities can overspend, will get some relief from federal reimbursements for the Jan. 12 snowstorm. The mayor said he expected to get $47,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency toward the $58,000 spent in man-hours, material and equipment to battle the massive Nor'easter.

The veterans services account is already $47,000 over and is expected to spend another $31,000 a month for the next four months. Seventy-five percent of those funds will be reimbursed by the federal government but not until the next fiscal year.

Alcombright said the uptick reflects the large number of veterans who have served in the Middle East and Afghanistan. "We're serving a lot of veterans through this district office," he said. "This money goes back into the community; it pays for rent, it buys groceries, it does all these things. It's a program that needs to be there."

The mayor said city is also keeping an eye on Department of Public Works salaries, which were elevated becuase of the amount of overtime to fight the near-constant snowstorms, and the health insurance account, which is currently projected to be about $100,000 over, "but we're hoping it will fall in line."

Also in deficit: the mayor's office because he didn't realize he had to budget $2,000 in dues to the National Mayor's Association. He promised to do it right next year.

Overall, the city is running about where it should be three-quarters of the way through the fiscal year, said Alcombright, with half its expected revenues received and most accounts having spent between 60 percent and 70 percent of their budgeted amounts. The fiscal year ends June 30. 

Among the good signs are some $90,000 collected in back water fees; a projected increase in school tuition and about $50,000 more in transfer station revenues; more back excise taxes collected; savings of up to $50,000 from taking over the water filtration plant; and bundling of utility costs for all departments which could mean another $70,000 in savings.

The city is also preparing to sell off a number of properties later this summer, including two 64-acre lots off West Shaft Road. A solicitation for bids from auctioneers is being prepared for publication.

The sewer fee is expected to show a deficit its first year because a first-quarter payment couldn't instituted in time.

"It ain't pretty but I think it's doable," said the mayor. "We're going to continue to watch revenues very closely."

Alcombright also provided the committee and those in attendance with the city's responses to recommendations from the state management review and the audit done by Scanlon & Associates. Many of the issues were in the process of being developed or implemented; others, such as adopting current budget procedures as ordinances, were found to be too complex to adopt before the fiscal year begins. They will continue to be worked on.

He said the city was also following the Governmental Accounting and Standards Board, or GASB, rules by accounting for unfunded post-retirement benefits. The city is projected to have future liabilities of $92 million.

"If were to start funding it it would be $3 million a year," said Alcombright. "The accounting practice says you should be banking for this but it would bankrupt every city in the state."

Write a comment - 30 Comments       Tags: Finance Committee, budget      

Auditor Recommends Financial Director

Tammy Daniels

Tom Scanlon of Scanlon & Associates gave a presentation on his company's audit of the city's fiscal 2010 finances at Monday's Finance Committee meeting. Present were committee member Alan Marden, left, Chairman Michael Bloom and Mayor Richard Alcombright.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The city's auditor is recommending it look into creating a financial director to provide stability and continuity over North Adams' financial structure.

The advice wasn't part of the 19 written recommendations submitted by Scanlon & Associates as part of the firm's audit for fiscal 2010, but Tom Scanlon suggested such a position might benefit the city during his audit presentation to the Finance Committee on Monday afternoon.

The complexity of federal and state laws and grant requirements, the development of a rapport with the state Department of Revenue and a sense of continuity with auditors, financial authorities and municipal staff has led municipalities of North Adams' size to invest in a financial chief, he said.

Scanlon went over the 19 deficiencies identified by the audit and suggested the city research getting a finance director.

"I know it's tough to put that position in and fund it, but it adds stability to the financial picture," continued Scanlon, adding that high staff turnover can affect bonding and other funding matters. "You want to have public confidence that when a taxpayer walks in a door and pays their real estate bill it's being accounted for correctly."

Mayor Richard Alcombright said different positions within the City Hall have taken on some of the duties of a director depending on their backgrounds and experience. After taking office, the mayor, a banker, created a finance team of certain department heads, including the auditor, treasurer and assessor, but much of the role has landed on business manager Nancy Ziter.

"This city is no less complex than Springfield or Boston ... We do all the same things those municipalities do but our staffing is incredibly low," said the mayor. "We have to startng thinking of ways of keeping people in City Hall, keeping them in these positions."

The city will begin interviewing for a new administrative officer this week and may look more toward someone with human service or financial acumen, he said, rather than law experience as in the past.

Scanlon said his suggestion wasn't meant to disparage the city's current staff. "I can't say enough about the staff," he said, adding they had done a good job in managing the city's finances and that the finance records were "free of material misstatement."

The firm listed 19 deficiencies it found, which were supplied to the committee along with the administration's responses. The mayor related some of the problems to the Finance Committee at its last meeting. They include the need for better internal controls, too much reliance on reserves, the need to account for future liabilities (because of a change in state law), better purchase controls, capitalization planning, long-term strategic financial planning, oversight of related accounts, investing, reviewing trust and revolving accounts, and implementing fiscal policies. 

North Adams Audit 2010

North Adams Single Audit 2010

North Adams Management Letters

The mayor said the city is in the process of implementing new controls and reporting measures but some deficiencies may require time or software investment.

Scanlon & Associates also "tested" (or single audited) the city's compliance in expending five federal grants and found no errors that would require reporting to the governement.

The company did not look back beyond fiscal 2010, which ended June 30, 2010, to compare results; however, it has been contracted to audit fiscal 2011 and 2012.

The City Council will be provided with the three documents — the audit, the single audit and the management letter and reply — at Tuesday's meeting. All three documents can be found on our Scribd site and on the sidebar.

In attendance were committee members Chairman Michael Bloom and Alan Marden; David Bond was absent. Also in attendance were Councilors Marie Harpin, Lisa Blackmer and David Lamarre, Business Manager Nancy Ziter and Assessor Ross Vivori.

Write a comment - 0 Comments       Tags: audit, Finance Committee      
Page 2 of 2 1  2  

Support Local News

We show up at hurricanes, budget meetings, high school games, accidents, fires and community events. We show up at celebrations and tragedies and everything in between. We show up so our readers can learn about pivotal events that affect their communities and their lives.

How important is local news to you? You can support independent, unbiased journalism and help iBerkshires grow for as a little as the cost of a cup of coffee a week.

News Headlines
Doe Saved From Adams Flood Chute
'Ready Player One': It's All a Game
Concert Benefits Girls Empowerment
MCLA Presents 'Into the Woods'
Three Berkshire Communities Could Benefit as 'Opportunity Zones'
BCC Students to be Inducted Into National Honor Society
NCF Honors 13 Williams Students, Alumni
SVHC's CEO Named One of Becker's List of '50 Rural Hospital CEOs to Know'
MCLA's Delta Mu Delta Inducts Students, Honors Alumna
Pittsfield Cooperative Bank President Named to Federal Reserve Bank Council

Voting Registration Deadlines

:: 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.


City Council

Returned Papers
As of 8/9 at 5 p.m.
 Lisa M. Blackmer* Yes
 Michael Bloom Yes
 Keith Bona* Yes
 David Bond* Yes
 Marie Harpin* Yes
 Alan Marden* Yes
 John Barrett Yes
 Eric R. Buddington Yes
 Nancy P. Bullett Yes
 Robert Cardimino Yes
 Catherine Chaput Yes
 Roland G. Gardner  
 Diane M. Gallese-Parsons  Yes
Shane Gaudreau  
 James B. Gyurasz  Yes
 Michael Hernandez  Yes
 Jennifer Breen Kirsch  Yes
Brian L. Flagg  
 Kellie A. Morrison  Yes
 Greg Roach  Yes
 Gail Kolis Sellers  Yes
18 candidates returned papers
 Richard J. Alcombright*  Yes
 Ronald A. Boucher  Yes
 Robert Martelle  Yes
 Preliminary election will eliminate one
 School Committee  
 Mary Lou Accetta* Yes
 Lawrence K. Taft* Yes
 Leonard Giroux Jr.  Yes
 Tara J. Jacobs  Yes
 David Lamarre Yes
McCann School Committee  
 George M. Canales Yes

Polling stations

St. Elizabeth's Parish Center

Ward 1
Ward 2
Ward 3
Ward 5

Greylock Elementary School

Ward 4

Draft Budget FY2012

School Budget FY2012

Compensation Plan

Classification Schedule 

Fiscal 2011 Budget

Fiscal 2011 Tax Classification

North Adams Audit 2010

North Adams Single Audit 2010

North Adams Management Letters 2010

North Adams School Building Options

Boards & Committees (58)
budget (17)
buildings (12)
City Council (47)
City Hall (8)
Courts (1)
Development (19)
DNA (4)
Downtown (48)
Events (29)
Fun Stuff (32)
Hadley Overpass (2)
Heritage State Park (5)
Housing (2)
Inspections (3)
Library (1)
Mayor (49)
MCLA (8)
MoCA (10)
People (30)
Planning Board (9)
projects (31)
Relations (2)
Schools (24)
Services (14)
stores (19)
Streets (21)
Zoning Hardman Industrial Park Holiday Parking Vendors Restaurants Wilco School Project Conte Fall Foliage Tourism Windsor Lake Campground Override Agenda Contest Airport Scarafoni Ordinance Lue Gim Gong Election Main Street North Adams Finance Committee Sullivan Armory Budget Jobs Trees Master Plan Ordinances Transcript Water Planning Board Insurance
Popular Entries:
Council Will Review Mayoral Term, Public Safety Post
Desperado's Returning to City
Alcombright Seeks Funds for Campground, Lake
North Adams Panel Takes Up Vendor Rules
Fall Foliage Children's Parade Celebrates Heroes
Main Street Brings Back Mystery Shopper
North Adams Rejects Override Proposal
Planning Board OKs Land Division, Business Signs
Conte School Option Prompts Protest
Scarafoni Asks for Tax Deal on Transcript Building
Recent Entries:
Public Safety Committee OKs Montana Parking Ban
Eclipse Residents Query Mayor on Collapsing Neighbor
Walmart Expected to Submit Plans for New Store
School Committee Endorses 2-School Plan
North Adams Water Safe to Drink
City Questions Parking Ticket Revenue
City Council Agenda for Aug. 23, 2011
Planning Board to Look at Ordinance Change
Mattress Maker Picks Green Mountain Site
City Still Pursuing Bedmaker