NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council delayed action on Tuesday on a home-rule petition to borrow or amortize up to $880,000 at the request of the mayor.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said he'd received new language on the petition from state Department of Revenue just minutes before the council had scheduled a special meeting at 5 to act on the matter.
The borrowing, or amortization, would allow the city to pay the runout of the Medical Insurance Trust Fund for fiscal 2010. The city is dropping its self-insurance plan at the beginning of the fiscal year on July 1 in favor of similar coverage for its public employees through the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association.
"We wanted to get this ... in front of the Legislature and Sen. [Benjamin B.] Downing so they could get this Legislation out more quickly and approved more quickly," said Alcombright. "We sent the language to the Department of Revenue along with Rep. [Daniel E.] Bosley and Downing and thoguht everything was OK."
The modifications appeared minor but substantial enough that the mayor said he didn't want to amend the original draft; the DOR also wanted to discuss the language with him. The council postponed the matter until its regular meeting on May 11.
Among the changes was a reduction of the amount to $850,000, reduction of the borrowing time from seven years to five and expansion of DOR rights over the borrowing and disbursement procedures.
The mayor said he didn't expect the entire amount to be borrowed. Whatever is in the Medical Insurance Trust Fund at the end of the fiscal year will be used to reduce the amount, as well any leftovers once all the runout is paid for.
The former administration had underfunded the insurance account for at least several years, requiring more funds to be placed in the account, according to state law.
The formation of a new business association in the city is being announced Thursday afternoon.
Mayor Richard Alcombright and Brian Miksic, president of Axiom Multimedia and a member of the board of directors of the new group, will talk about the initiative on Thursday, April 29, at 1 next to Persnickety Toys.
Develop North Adams Inc. will be a private development corporation (it does not yet appear in the state's corporate database) "focused on growing and promoting businesses in North Adams," according to a release from the mayor's office.
The group is an outgrowth of talks between city officials, local businesses, cultural and educational entities and former members of the old Downtown Development Inc. to spur creation of a local association to take on marketing and development for the city. It's been merged with the grass-roots NorthAdamsIdeas.com, a Web site created shortly after Alcombright was elected last fall to allow residents to share ideas. The site is now "Develop North Adams."
The first initiative out of the Web site is the Community Day of Service on Saturday that will bring residents and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts students together to work and socialize. DNA (like those initials for a rejuvenation group) will presumably also work with the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce on North Adams-specific projects. Merchants have complained over the lack of a city association after the Northern Berkshire Chamber merged with the larger Berkshire Chamber some years ago.
Chamber President Michael Supranowicz will be a member of the new DNA board, as will Miksic.
Also on board are Blair Benjamin Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; Tom Bernard of Massachusetts College of Liberal Art; Seven Blakeman, photographer and owner of the Elf Parlor; City Councilor Michael Boland; City Councilor Keith Bona of Bona Marketing; David Carver of Scarafoni Associates; Lois Daunis of Papyri Books John DeRosa of Freedman, DeRosa & Rondeau; Ryley Gaudreau of Edward Jones; retired MCLA administrator Steve Green; Paul Hopkins of Northern Berkshire Healthcare; Mary Morrow of MountainOne Financial Partners and the Williamstown Chamber of Commerce; artist and real estate developer Eric Rudd; and Jonathan Secor of MCLA's Berkshire Cultural Resource Center.
A press conference has been slated at City Hall on Thursday with city and union officials on what is likely a mutual settlement of the insurance premium debacle.
The city's seven public unions claimed last year that they've been paying more than the 30 percent in contracted insurance premiums because the city was failing to fully fund the Medical Insurance Trust.
A report commissioned by incoming Mayor Richard Alcombright found that North Adams hasn't been putting in its 70 percent share for at least the last three years. The underfunding added up to more than $1.1 over two years; the city is expected to spend another $500,000 to fully fund the account this fiscal year.
Alcombright had vowed to work with the unions, particularly the teachers' union that has been the most vocal and did the most research on the issue, to come to an amicable settlement. Union officials have indicated they are aware of the city's current fiscal difficulty.
A advisory from the mayor's office states: "The press conference is for the purpose of a joint announcement by Mayor Alcombright and the Public Employee Committee with regard to a settlement of the issues surrounding the Medical Insurance Trust Fund."
iBerkshires will be covering the press conference at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday in the City Council Chambers.
Just got word that Mayor Richard Alcombright is planning his own form of fireside chat on Northern Berkshire Commmunity Television with "Corner Office Connection."
The new show premieres tonight (Wednesday, March 24) at 8 p.m. on Channel 17. North Adams attorney Richard Taskin will sit down with Mayor Alcombright to discuss issues of the city and surrounding area.
Henceforth (sayeth the mayor) there will be a new show on the last Wednesday of every month at 8 p.m.
:: 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.