City Council Looks at Zoning, Borrowing Issues
The City Council on Tuesday, Oct. 12, will be asked to authorize the borrowing of $650,000 to complete the airport project and $150,000 to renovate and construction bathrooms and a concession stand at Windsor Lake and its campground.
The Finance Committee heard both issues at its meeting Thursday. The committee has recommended adoption of the borrowing order for the airport and, while not formally endorsing the lake spending, reacted favorably to it. The lake spending had not been presented to the council nor referred to the committee to act on.
The council will also be asked to call a joint public hearing of the council and Planning Board at the behest of Planning Board Chairman Michael Leary. The city is pursuing a state Green Community designation that will require "by-right zoning" for certain green businesses. Leary said the city has by-right in three zones but still requires a special permit if a site plan approval is needed. New language would clarify a site plan review is not part of a special permit process.
Christopher Lamarre quit as chairman of the Board of Assessors to become the chief assessor in Great Barrington last month. In a letter to the council, Mayor Alcombright said that the qualifications for assessor made the position difficult to fill.
He is asking that the residency requirement for the full-time, chief assessor be removed. "It will always be my preference to hire a resident, if qualified," he wrote. The residency requirement would not change for the two part-time assessors.
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Language Changes Delays Action on Insurance Borrowing
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.
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