North Adams Council Re-elects Officers, Delays Raise Requests

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Councilors David Bond and Marie Harpin pull the names and corresponding numbers for the council's seating arrangements for the coming year.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday night sent a request to change the compensation and classification plan to include new stipends and raises, mostly in the Public Safety and Public Services departments, to the Finance Committee for review.

The stipends included $5,000 annual payments for the police and fire directors and the police lieutenant in recognition of the added duties to those posts with the elimination of a public safety commissioner. The stipends will roll into salary once the city's ordinances are rewritten to reflect the new public safety structure.

Also included in the request was a one percent raise for all union staff effective Jan. 1 with a retroactive raise to July 2012; the reclassification of the part-time clerical post in public services to raise the wage from $10.28 an hour to $12.24 because the clerk is now a backup for the mayor's office; and a one percent raise (retroactive to July 2012) as well as an 8 percent "adjustment" for emergency dispatchers.

"City dispatchers are the lowest paid compared to Adams, Williamstown and Pittsfield," said Mayor Richard Alcombright, adding that the raise will still set them 5 percent to 15 percent below their peers.

Councilor John Barrett III said it was a case of "spending, spending, spending" and questioned why some city workers were getting raises and others not.

"There are several positions in city government that deserve these raises and there are several that do not deserve these raises," he said. Barrett said he did not have a problem with the directors' stipends but wanted to know what duties they had taken on to deserve them.

He also objected to non-union employees making more than $60,000 getting a raise and said a part-time clerk should not be making more than the city's reserve officers who are wearing guns and "working the toughest shifts."

Councilor Jennifer Breen wondered if it was under the council's jurisdiction to make changes to salaries set by the administration. "I think we need to vote it as it is," she said.

Barrett responded it was definitely the council's jurisdiction since it was a spending request and none of the changes were union or contractual.

City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau swears in council President Michael Bloom and Vice President Lisa Blackmer.

The mayor said he would wait for the committee's review to respond but noted he was not asking the council for money.

"This is not asking for an appropriation, this is all funded through grants and is in the budget," said Alcombright. "All I'm asking for is a modification of salaries."

Councilor Alan Marden said, chairman of the Finance Committee, said there was no rush since the raises were retroactive. He suggested waiting to see what the governor's budget was going to be.

After some discussion on procedure, the original motion was rescinded and the order motioned to the committee without a first reading to return to the full council in February.

In other business:

The council reorganized, with Michael Bloom retaining the presidency (nominated by David Bond and seconded by Lisa Blackmer) and Lisa Blackmer the vice presidency (Nominated by Marden and seconded by Marie Harpin).

A proposed change of rules was postponed.

The council approved a list of reappointments for the coming year:

Airport Commission: Trever Gilman and Jeffrey Naughton; Commission on Disabilities: Mark Patenaude and Brian McCarthy; Human Services Commission: Jennifer Boland, Suzy Helme and Maria Diamond; Historical Commission: Joanne Hurlbut and Jake Elder; Mass MoCA Commission: JoAnn Bates and Sandra Thomas; and the appointment of Robert Burdick to the Planning Commission, to fill the unexpired term of Donald Keagan.

Fiscal 2013 bonding levels were set at $250,000 for the treasurer/tax collector; $62,500 for the assistant treasurer; $15,000 for the city clerk.

License applications were approved for Lawrence Bassett of State Road, Edward Bunn IV of Greylock Avenue and Daniel Johnson of Isbell Street to drive for Tunnel City Taxi Inc.

•  The council also presented a card and gift to Peter Gentile in thanks for his volunteer work in broadcasting the meetings for Northern Berkshire Community Television.

Tags: city council,   public safety commissioner,   raises,   reorganization,   

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