By: Tammy Daniels On: 12:48AM / Thursday May 19, 2011
Finance Committee members Alan Marden, Chairman Michael Bloom and David Bond reviewed the fiscal 2012 budget with Mayor Richard Alcombright and department heads. Also in attendance were Councilors Marie Harpin, David Lamarre, Michael Boland, Lisa Blackmer and President Ronald Boucher.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Public Safety Commissioner E. John Morocco will retire at the end of the fiscal year to "take pressure of the budget" it was announced at Wednesday's Finance Committee meeting.
The disclosure came during discussion of the Public Safety Department's budget in which the commissioner's salary was slashed to $21,000.
"He knows the plight we're in ... he will be retiring at the end of the fiscal year," said Mayor Richard Alcombright, who added that the commissioner had approached him about retiring within the last week or so. "I want to keep the commissioner on for at least six months to work on the transition, then he can offload the things he does to other people."
Public Safety Commissioner E. John Morocco will stay on for six months to help the department transition. He said it would be difficult for the fire and police directors to take over his duties.
The Department of Public Works union is also cognizant of the tough times, said Alcombright. "They voted as a body to forgo their fiscal 2012 raise."
"These are people who unfortunately do not make a lot of money," Alcombright said. "They do a lot for the city. It makes a difference if the average guy made $300 a year [with the raise]; if the 2 1/2 override passes, they're probably going to get hit with $250."
The mayor halted contract negotiations with some of the other unions; he said the teachers, who have settled, have indicated they may reconsider their contract as well.
The City Council submitted a home-rule petition to the Legislature last year to extend Morocco's tenure two years past his mandated retirement age. At the time, city officials were considering whether to dispense with a commissioner. Keeping Morocco on was to give them a two-year buffer to research the matter, although little progress has been made in that direction.
Alcombright said the Morocco's leaving did not indicate a change in the public safety structure and the commissioner's position would remain active until the city determined what to do. The mayor said he didn't think the savings of eliminating the position would be significant.
"You're going to go away from the commissioner but nobody knows what I do," said Morocco. "I've brought in $5 million in grants; someone has to maintain those."
The police and fire director jobs would have to change, he said. "Call them what you want, they still have a job to do so to say they're going to their job and do what I'd do managing grants and budgets and stuff ... ."
Morocco's partial departure reduces Public Safety's administrative budget by $63,000. The rest of the departments are for the most part level-funded and there are no increases for department heads with the expectation of the assessor, whose salary reflects the position's change from four days a week to five.
The mayor defended hiring a new tourism director, saying it would be a source of revenue.
The administrative officer position is funded for a half-year, with hopes it can be filled by next January. An assistant information systems director has been added at $50,000 but an assistant inspector of buildings will be left vacant as will two posts in the library — the assistant director and an office clerk.
The Finance Committee recommended slashing stipends from city boards, including the City Council, on Wednesday but voted 2-1 to keep the tourism director position after nearly a half-hour of discussion.
Committee member Alan Marden called for all volunteer boards to have their stipends slashed and the City Council to accept $1 each this year, a $27,000 cut, "just for one year to send a message."
Alcombright said some of the stipends may be required by state law. "They may be mandated but there's no reason they have to accept it," said Marden.
"I think this is a vital position for the city of North Adams," he said, comparing it to the Megan Wilden's work in Pittsfield's Cultural Office. "I think that this position has the ability to generate revenue, I think this position with the right person has the ability to generate grants, that it has the ability to reach out and in a sense be the face of the city.
"I really think this is a very, very important part of us moving forward."
Councilor David lamarre wondered if it would be better to wait a year to offer a higher salary and attract better candidates for the vacant post; Alcombright said the eight people to be interviewed, including "five who are spectacular," had been told the $34,000 salary and indicated it was acceptable.
Councilor Marie Harpin asked if the Develop North Adams and the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, or staff at Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art could coordinate city events. The mayor and Finance Committee members Chairman Michael Bloom and David Bond said it would be difficult and unlikely.
"If they were to bring in a half-million, the $34,000 would be money well-spent," said Bloom.
Bloom and Bond voted to recommend the position; Marden voted against, adding "this is the hardest vote for me."
A public hearing on the $15.6 million school budget will be held Tuesday, June 7, and presented to the Finance Committee the next day. The city budget will be presented at next week's City Council meeting.
The draft budget is below and can be found on the sidebar. The document was created horizontally but, unfortunately, appears vertically on Scribd. We will try to find a way to post it so it's easier to read.
iBerkshires.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
It is with interest that I read the proposal by Councilor Marden to change the compensation for City Councilors from $3000/year to one dollar/year in order to save approximately $27,000 in the FY 2012
budget--it would as he said be "symbolic"- not a bad idea. However, I don't think it can be done. Section 17A of the City Charter prohibits any change of compensation for Council (and for Mayor) in the year that it is voted. If that is the case, the compensation change- whatever it might be, would not take effect until January 1, 2012 half way through the fiscal year. The savings would therefore be cut in half.Still a noble gesture. And it would go into effect after the next election so that everyone would know what the compensation would be. However, that compensation would be locked in for the full calendar year of 2012.
A department giving back a raise that was already approved. That would never have happened under Barrett. It shows these departments trust and understand what the current administration is dealing with. Kudos DPW for thinking about the people.
from Did the mayor lie. Two weeks ago the mayor said he settled the contract with the dpw so they would not take the city to arbitration . He said if they did it could cost the city a lot of money. Now we find out that the dpw can NOT take the city to arbitration at all. Also now he tells us that the people that were going to take the city to arbitration are going to give back some of the negoitated raise??? Sounds like he threw the dpw under the bus by not telling the truth about why he settled the contract.
Just Are you talking about the same department that the mayor settled with so they would not take the city to arbitration ?? The same department that we were told by the former mayor could not take the city to arbitration??? It sounds like the mayor was throwing the dpw under the bus to get what HE wanted. Is the mayor ever going to tell the truth ???
The teachers have talked and they walked on the Mayor. The Yard guys almost got suckered but they to will tell Dickie to take a walk. So Wow take the message back to your leader that it ain't going to happen. Your Mayor knew about the fiscal plight of the City and he still agreed to three years of raises less than two months ago. Now the esteem members of the City Council will approve these raises on Tuesday. Another day in Paradise with tricky Dick!
North Adams is one of smallest if not the samllest city in the state. Why does the mayor need an assistant?? If the job is to much for him then quit, don't ask the taxpayers to come up with money they do not have just because you are unable to handle your job. As far as every department needing a vehicle?? Why? Is that like the dog officer needs a vehicle while she stands on the bridge all day ?? You said that sometimes someone needs to go to Pittsfield for the city. OK then why can't they take a bus??? People need
to speek up the spending is out of control.
Wow How about this, Mr. Wow. Someone asked the mayor about a statment he made about closing the library. He said he never made that statment?? I am sorry I am confused. An article in the North Adams Tanscript , While the mayor has not yet presented cuts that would need to be made should the override fail, He has said, non-critical services such as the LIBRARY, THE SENIOR CINTER,and Winsor LAKE would be SHUT DOWN in addition to layoffsand furloughs for city employees. So I guess you could say the gossip came from our local paper . I guess you would have to talk to the reporter not me.
Yes Wayne, you are confused! The Mayor said that these things could be closed if the override fails. At that time I don't believe plan B had been completed! Please watch the City Council meeting tonight and we will look forward to your remarks tommorrow!
Supporter The problem is he denied he said it. Did he say it as a scare tactic ??? Like the dpw could take the city to arbitration if he did not settle the contract??? Was the former mayor confused when he said the dpw could not take the city to arbitration, or were we not being told the truth??? AGAIN !!!
Wayne - A union can ask for an arbitration hearing for many different reasons, and they will often get it. Often it is not clear cut. It's a little like (but not really) suing someone - you can file with the court/state/board/etc... and see if it sticks. Considering John's losing percentage in such hearings, you might want to take his word with a huge grain of salt.
Also, your seeming insistence that the quote in the transcript is 100% accurate and in context is laughable. (Cut and shut sound just a little bit alike.) Also, someone giving examples off the top of his head when final decisions have not been made are hardly a scare tactic. The cuts are real. The library has already lost a librarian even if the Prop passes.
I assume you will be sitting next to Mr. Cardimino tonight. I'll wave at my TV.
I would like to know the real story? With The little guy all of the sudden back in the picture and showing up at all these meetings.He had better be carefull he has created alot of enemys over the years.Man I can't believe how deep the water is getting with all these dirty politicions in this city it's amazing to watch.But I do agree with one thing we definetly have way to many chiefs and little or no indians making way to much money on city paid jobs starting with the Mayor!!! Why can't they cut back thier yearly salary a little bit a year for a little while and get used to living on that like every one else in the city.Any way people we live in a beautifull city but boy the water shure is getting deep when it comes to local politics.
Do you Alcombright bashers HONESTLY think someone else could fix all of the issues he is dealing with? If so....you are delusional. 1% here, 2.5% there isn't going to fix damage that was done a long time ago,added to HUGE state cuts, that are now finally biting us. No matter who sits in that corner office...we're in a mess that can't be fixed overnight, or fixed by anyone else for that matter. The mayor is simply trying to stop the bleeding, and make up for State cuts, past mismanagement, and redundancy. Go ahead...complain, fall on the floor yelling and screaming, throw your tantrums. People are already beating the drums of new mayor war. Just DO NOT complain if he gets voted out, and someone else does an even worse job afterward. But I know you'll all complain then too...un-knowledgeable people always blame the guy that's in charge NOW...never the guy who came before him, or the MASSIVE state/federal cuts. I guess Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Trillions spent on our current wars, etc is all Obama's fault too eh? Ignorance may be bliss, but it's still ignorance!
:: 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.