North Adams Keeping Eye on Public Safety Overtime

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Fire Director Stephen Meranti, left, Building Inspector William Meranti and Police Director Michael Cozzaglio appeared before the Finance Committee.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The administration is hoping to reduce the amount of overtime being paid out in the Public Safety Department by calculating coverage needs ahead of time.

The city's ended recent fiscal years well into the red on those line items to keep staffing requirements for firefighters and patrol officers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. By studying historical data, the city's budgetmakers are hoping to anticipate more accurate figures going into fiscal 2014.

"We think this brings as tight a budget as we can get," said Administrative Officer Michael Canales at Tuesday's Finance Committee meeting. "We've been off by large amounts of money."

The police overtime budget was off by $173,000 in 2012; fire by $90,000. The numbers aren't much better this year. It's in part caused by long-term employees, particularly in the Fire Department, who are at or near the top in earned vacation time.

Canales, working with Auditor David Fierro Jr. and the police and fire directors, have looked into the usage of vacation and sick time, and factored in potential disability time. It can't cover all the possibilities, but Canales believes it gets the city's proposed spending closer to its actual spending.

"We believe that gets us a much more accurate budget," he said. "We tell them to stick to the budget but if we're not going give them the actual resources to cover the known costs, they won't be able to."

He expects to keep the lines of communication open on a monthly basis to track how the budgeting goes.

"We think we are now going to have a budget where we should be talking thousands of dollars (in unbudgeted overtime), not tens or hundreds of thousands," said Canales.

Finance Committee member Lisa Blackmer questioned if it would be more useful to hire new firefighters rather than pay overtime — and get a jump on the looming number of retirements.

But Fire Director Stephen Meranti said the department's complicated rotating schedule made it difficult to hire a single "floater" to fill in on vacations.


Overall the 2014 budget for the Fire Department is at $1.48 million, including $185,000 for overtime. The Police Department is set at $1.6 million with $171,000 in overtime budgeted.

The public safety commissioner salary has been eliminated with some of budgeted amounts being used toward raising salaries of the directors to reflect their increased responsibilities. The loss of the position is reflected in a $90,000 decrease in the public safety administrative budget.

The city is expecting to see savings with the consolation of building and health inspections into an inspection services department, similar to that used in Williamstown.

Canales and Mayor Richard Alcombright said they have taken the opportunity to review departments whenever there have been staffing changes. Former Health Inspector Manuel Serrano's departure for a new job lead to the decision to consolidate inspection services.

The new structure will eliminate a $40,000 a year health inspector 1 and a retiring clerk will return at half-time. The building inspector and current clerk will get raises related to increased responsibilities and the current health inspector will become director of health services.

Canales and Building Inspector William Meranti did not anticipate any difficulties or significant delays in providing services to residents but noted that the changes will be watched closely. Canales said that the city will use Berkshire Health Alliance as needed to fill in for inspection duties.

The mayor also informed the Finance Committee that the city is in negotiations with its public unions and they have been informed of the city's continuing difficulties.

The meeting was the third held by the Finance Committee to review the fiscal 2014 budget. Last week, the committee reviewed unclassifed, insurance, pension and capital items.

The mayor noted the fiscal 2014 budget still has a structural deficit, though it has been slowly reduced over the past few years. The gap of $353,000 will be covered with reserves, which are limited.

"We will not overrun our budget this year we can't do it," he said. "Not only are we trying to keep the budget flat, we're being real fiscal hounds on this."


Tags: Finance Committee,   public safety,   

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North Adams Happenings: Oct. 23-29

SAVE THE DATE
NOVEMBER 2nd - Masquerade at Greylock WORKS
On November 2nd, three weeks before FESTIVE, come to gWorks to dance in disguise at our MASQUERADE Halloween costume party! Doors open at 8pm !
Celebrate your costume ingenuity with DJ BFG spinning seamless upbeat dance music within immersive theatrical lighting choreographed by LJ McZawa.
Whether you're coming out in a dramatic mask + your favorite party clothes or a full-body transformation, our local friends are joining in on the fun to motivate your creativity with Costume Themes and PRIZES.
https://www.facebook.com/events/406993753316580/
Wednesday 10/23
9:00 A.M. (FREE), SOCIAL, Open Hours UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE), KIDS, Terrific Tots Playgroup The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information.  


10:30 A.M. (FREE), PARENTING, Parenting Workshop: Surviving your Adolescents nbCC Conference Room, 61 Main Street, Room 213, (413) 663-7588 More information.  


11:30 A.M. (FREE), KIDS, Little Wonders Baby Playgroup The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information. 

4:00 P.M. (FREE), FAMILY, Family Literacy Night Series The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information.  


6:00 P.M. (FREE), WORKSHOP, Educator Open House North Adams Public Library, 64 Church Street, More information.

8:00 P.M. (FREE), GAMES, Trivia Night! Ramunto's, 67 Main Street, (413) 398-5152 More information.

Thursday 10/24
9:00 A.M. (FREE), SOCIAL, Open Hours UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE), PARENTING, Kids Safety of America: Child Abuse and Neglect nbCC’s Conference Room, 61 Main Street, Room 213 More information.

4:00 P.M. (FREE), TUTORING, After School Program UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

4:30 P.M. (FREE), CONVERSATION, Spaghetti Supper with Tom Bernard North Adams American Legion, 91 American Legion Drive More information.

4:30 P.M. (FREE), FAMILY, Dad and Family Time- Bowling and Pizza Night Valley Park Bowling, Curran Highway More information.

5:00 P.M. (FREE), SOCIAL, Octoberfest in The Airport Rooms TOURISTS Welcome, 915 State Road More information.

5:00 P.M. (FREE), BIKING, Halloween West End Bike Around Greylock School, 100 Phelps Ave More information.

6:00 P.M. (FREE), OPEN MIC, OPEN MIC The Parlor Cafe, 303 Ashland Street More information.

6:00 P.M. (FREE), INFORMATIONAL, Milton Hershey School Family Event: North Adams, MA Freight Yard Pub & Restaurant, 1 Furnace Street More information.

7:30 P.M. (FREE), WRITING, Fiction Writing Workshop [open house] Common Folk, 85 Main Street More information.

7:30 P.M. (FREE), BINGO, Musical Bingo at Mingo's Sports Bar and Grill 41 Roberts Drive More information.

8:00 P.M. ($15), COMEDY, Comedy Night w/ Andy Sandford HiLo North Adams, 55 Union Street More information.
Friday 10/25
10:30 A.M. (FREE), CONVERSATION, Coffee with a Cop MCLA Campus Center, 375 Church Street More information.

10:30 A.M. (FREE), PARENTING, Ages and Stages The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE), KIDS, Drop-In Playgroup The Family Center, 210 State Street, (413) 664-4821 More information.

12:00 P.M. (FREE), SOCIAL, Open Hours UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

7:00 P.M. (FREE), MOVIES, Halloween cartoon movie night MCLA Freel Library, Blackinton Street More information.

7:00 P.M. (By Donation), CRAFTING, Knitting Nights with Common Folk Common Folk, 73 Main Street More information.

7:00 P.M. ($1 and up), GAMES, BINGO! North Adams Elks 487 Lodge, 100 Eagle Street, (413) 664-9039 More information.

7:00 P.M. ($12 adv, $15 at the door), CONCERT, Gregory Douglass LIVE at HiLo North Adams HiLo North Adams, 55 Union Street More information.

8:00 P.M. (Prices vary, click link for details), THEATER, Miss Julie MCLA Theatre, 375 Church Street More information.

9:00 P.M. (FREE), MUSIC, Karaoke Friday! State Street Tavern, 167 State Street, (413) 664-9152 More information.
Saturday 10/26
9:00 A.M. (FREE), CLOTHING DRIVE, Winter Clothing Drive First Baptist Church of North Adams, 131 Main Street More information.

10:00 A.M. (FREE), GARDENING, Gardening Program UNO Community Center, 157 River Street, (413) 664-4612 More information.

12:30 P.M. (Child $5, Adults $8, Family $25), FUNDRAISER, AYJ Fund Children's Princess Concert MCLA Church St Center, 375 Church Street More information.

3:00 P.M. (Cost of Admission), ART, Opening Reception: Sarah Oppenheimer, Jenny Holzer, and ERRE MASS MoCA, 1040 MASS MoCA Way More information.

6:00 P.M. (FREE), CONCERT, Fall Foliage Sunset Serenade - Jessica Gregory Wilson Wigwam Western Summit, 2350 Mohawk Trail More information.

8:00 P.M. (Prices vary, click link for details), THEATER, Miss Julie MCLA Theatre, 375 Church Street More information.

8:00 P.M. ($12 adv, $15 at the door), CONCERT, Misty Blues HiLo North Adams, 55 Union Street More information.

8:00 P.M. (Prices Vary, see link for details), CONCERT, Jenny Scheinman & Allison Miller’s Parlour Game MASS MoCA, 1040 MASS MoCA Way More information.
Sunday 10/27
2:00 P.M. (Prices vary, click link for details), THEATER, Miss Julie MCLA Theatre, 375 Church Street More information.

7:00 P.M. ($20 adv, $25 day of), CONCERT, Jeffrey Foucault HiLo North Adams, 55 Union Street More information.
Monday 10/28
5:00 P.M. (FREE), WORKSHOP, ROOTS Volunteer Training ROOTS Teen Center, 43 Eagle Street More information.

5:00 P.M. (FREE), BIKING, nbCC Bike Collective The Armory, 206 Ashland Street More information.

6:00 P.M. (FREE), WORKSHOP, Communications Career Panel Bowman Hall - MCLA, 375 Church Street More information.
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