A City Council committee will make recommendations on the replacement of City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau, who is retiring at the beginning of next year.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — An ad hoc committee appointed by City Council President Keith Bona will be reviewing operations at the city clerk's office because of the coming retirement of City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau.
"Our current city clerk has unfortunately announced her retirement at the beginning of next year so we need to put some thought into the process of ... what's going to happen with the position," Bona said at Tuesday's council meeting. "The city clerk's office is the only office in City Hall that the council oversees hiring of the positions."
Gomeau has worked in the city clerk's office for nearly 20 years and succeeded longtime City Clerk Mary Ann Abuisi, who retired in 2003.
Bona appointed himself and Councilors Marie Harpin, Paul Hopkins and Joshua Moran, who was absent, to the ad hoc committee. The committee will make recommendations for Gomeau's replacement and determine if changes in staffing are required in terms of training.
"It would be wise to have a trained [assistant] clerk in place before the city clerk leaves," Bona wrote in an email last week.
The city clerk's budget for fiscal 2019 includes $5,400 for two months salary in case someone has to be brought in during a training period.
Assistant City Clerk Deborah Pedercini joined the office in January 2017. Should she be considered for promotion, she would still require more training, Bona wrote. "She hasn't been with us that long, and still learning the office herself."
Gomeau, speaking at Wednesday's budget hearing at the Finance Committee was concerned that two months' training would be too little.
"This person coming in for two months won't see an election," she said, advocating for longer, part-time period of training. Bona said that was something the ad hoc committee can take up. The council may hire the replacement and recommend training, but the budget for that comes from the mayor's office, he said.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the City Council approved appropriations and transfers for voting machines and the Hill Side Cemetery Restoration.
Some $25,500 was appropriated from certified free cash for five new optical scanner voting machines. The current machines were purchased in 2007 but are now outdated and important parts are no longer available. The new machines would be similar but have updated security controls and be more user-friendly with a larger screen that will tell voters when their ballot is excepted and if they over voted.
The optical scanning machines, which read ballot cards but are not connected the internet, would be purchased from the same company, LHS Associates, as the current machines. Gomeau is recommending this purchase, saying that LHS would also provide training and have representatives on site the first time they are used.
The machines are being purchased in concert with several other communities so the city will get a rebate for the bulk purchase and will also get a $2,500 credit for returning the old machines and stands. Their lifespan is expected at 20 years. In response to questions about security, Gomeau said LHS did a recent audit of 48 random precincts and found the machines' counts were 100 percent accurate to the paper ballots.
The vote was unanimous for the appropriation but the council will have to make a separate vote on purchasing these particular machines.
The $4,000 was transferred from the Tinker Fund, set up by New York banker Edward R. Tinker in 1957 to maintain the Tinker mausoleum and surrounding cemetery. Mayor Thomas Bernard said the fund currently has $40,611. The volunteer Hill Side Restoration group has dipped into the fund several times over recent years for support in restoring the more than 200-year-old cemetery, including the purchase of a custom-made tripod for lifting heavy stones. Gravestones have been cleaned and righted, deteriorated bases repaired and broken and shattered stones restored.
Serious work in the cemetery began about three years ago and has been spearheaded by Roger Eurbin, who said the funds will be used for materials such as concrete, wood for building forums for bases and tools as needed. He anticipated completing the north side of the graveyard by early summer and moving across the street to the south side.
"In 2012, the town of Lenox determined that they had 49 headstones that were in a dangerous situation, 49, they allocated $45,000 to fix these 49 stones," he told the council. "We have done over 300 stones."
The mayor called the effort "really a labor of community investment."
In other business, the council gave final approval to the retail marijuana ordinances related to public consumption and fines.
• The mayor also provided the council with amendments to the ordinance on licensed marijuana facilities to take into account medical marijuana. The original passed by the council did not have that included and city officials declined at that point to reopen the ordinance so as to have a law in place by April 1, when the state began accepting applications. The changes were referred to the Planning Board and the Public Safety Committee.
• The council also authorized the mayor to lift the winter parking ban effective Monday, April 16, and approved a secondhand dealer license for Mary Ann George of Maryann-Tiques & Gifts on Ashland Street.
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