By: Tammy Daniels On: 11:08PM / Tuesday July 12, 2011
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday night authorized the transfer of $786,441.46 from a number of departments to close out the city's books for fiscal 2011.
The amounts ranged from $2,627 from the wire and alarm account to $225,000 from the School Department to balance the books in other accounts, including significant overruns in police ($264,000) and fire ($180,279) salaries because of overtime, disabilities and four officers away at academy.
"It is lengthy but no different than any other year," said Mayor Richard Alcombright of the number of transfers. "This is required to be done by July 15."
The mayor told the council that he had kept the Finance Committee informed of existing overruns, which included a significant deficit in the veterans service account that required a $164,000 transfer from free cash, emptying that account
Councilor Marie Harpin is sworn in by City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau for service on the Housing Authority Board. Harpin was appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick as the state representative on the board.
"While we have overruns due to spending increases in school and city departments, we were able to hold back in many areas," he said. "We're fortunate that with exception of free cash transferred two weeks ago and a $50,000 order you will see coming next from reserves, we were able to cover all other expenses in this year's budget despite a $400,000 shortfall in local receipts."
Councilor Lisa Blackmer questioned the small amount — $4,198.36 — transferred from the tourism department considering the director had left in March. Alcombright, after confirming with Business Manager Nancy Ziter, said that account, like a number of others, had not been emptied.
All unexpended funds from each fiscal year are rolled over into free cash once the books are certified by the Department of Revenue.
"The cost savings we projected were somewhere in the $30,000 to $40,000 range and after [Public Works Commissioner Timothy Lescarbeau] did some analysis, it was closer to $70,000 to $75,000 that we saved," said the mayor.
The council also approved a $50,000 transfer from the landfill reserve account to the Department of Public Safety's trash removal service account as a "buffer" in case unanticipated bills come in. If nothing comes in, the money will fall into free cash.
Resident Robert Cardimino asked how much was left in the city reserves. Alcombright said there was zero in the free cash account after the last transfer; about $310,000 in the stabilization and, after the transfer, $212,000 in the combined landfill and parking meter reserve accounts.
The mayor said he expected to dip into the reserves to help in balancing the fiscal 2012 budget. Last year, the city used some $1.2 million from what was left in the land sale account to balance the fiscal 2011 budget.
"There was not a lot in there but we just found out today that about $75,000 more is coming our way in state aid," he said, adding the passage of the state budget this week also holds up hope for more funds from some $65 million targeted to local aid.
Meanwhile, the deficit has been cut from more than $1 million to $404,000. The mayor expects to present the Plan B budget at the next meeting.
In other business:
• The council approved the rappointment of Pearl Mullett to the Housing Authority and the appointment of Ross Jacobs, an alternate on the Zoning Board, to complete the term of permanent member Ernest Gamache and for Gregory Roach to fill out Jacobs' term, both terms ending next year.
• Approved a request by Ernest Dix of Clarksburg to connect to the city's water system.
• Heard a statement in open forum by Mark Trottier addressing the importance of allowing residents to speak to the council.
• A request from Big Shirl's Kitchen owners Renee and Mark Lapier to allow their establishment to offer "bring your own bottle."
:: 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.