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North Adams Council to Talk Sewer, Fiscal 2022 Budget

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Residents on Woodlawn Avenue are asking the city to defray some of the costs in connecting several homes along the street to the city's sewer system. 
Four families on the avenue say they have "pursued city sewer-hookup to no avail" and that the line stops at 78 Woodlawn and does not include the homes at 94, 100, 108 and 116 Woodlawn. The septic at 108 Woodlawn has failed, they wrote in a letter to the City Council, and the property will not perk. 
They have an estimate of about $42,000 to have the four properties connected, which does not include tanks or unforeseen circumstances. They say the Department of Public Works has offered to donate piping and fittings but the city has rejected taking this on as a project. 
"We are asking the City for monies to help cover the cost of the contractor's fees in addition to the donated piping and fittings," the group asks.
President Jason LaForest is asking the administration to take on this project through expected monies from the federal American Rescue Plan Act. The city is anticipating $3.7 million but there are conditions on how it can be spent. 
"The inclusion of these homes on city sewer would have ecological benefits, improve the quality of life of our constituents on Woodlawn Avenue, and offer an appreciable return on investment for the city," LaForest wrote to the council. 
The issue has been placed on the agenda for Tuesday's meeting.
The City Council also will be voting on the proposed $42 million spending plan for fiscal 2022 on Tuesday. 
The budget was given a final review last week by the Finance Committee, which voted to recommend it as presented, including the addition of a deputy fire chief, the reclassification of several positions, and a $17,769,074 school budget approved by the School Committee last week. 
What won't be recommended is bumping up the mayor's salary as first broached by Councilor Marie T. Harpin at a City Council meeting on June 8. Harpin had pointed out that — with this budget — there would be seven positions making more than the mayor. 
She again raised the subject at last week's Finance Committee meeting but the committee and the mayor said it would be too late in the process because it would put the budget out of balance. 
"My plan was to vote the budget, vote the classification plan, and then do this in the summer/fall, effective July 1 of next year," said committee Chairwoman Lisa Blackmer. "Make it effective fiscal 2023 because we can't add to the budget."
Mayor Thomas Bernard, who is not running for re-election, also recommended that the conversation be done ahead so the wage increase would fall in the next fiscal year.
"There was ample opportunity for the council, the committee, or individual members to make this request prior to budget submission," he wrote to the Finance Committee and City Council. "This was the process that was followed in 2019, the last time the mayor's salary was adjusted."
Harpin had, in fact, been the one to bring the wage increase into the budget discussions for fiscal 2020 as chair of the Finance Committee in 2019. The classification and compensation plan had been amended at that time to raise the salary of the mayor by $4,000 to $88,470 effective Jan. 1, 2020 (after the 2019 election). It was the first time the salary had been increased in nearly a dozen years. 
The council will also be asked to accept the transfer of $300,000 for a feasibility study for Brayton School. The School Committee voted to take these funds from the school choice account, which has more than $2 million in it.  
The council is expected to pass zoning ordinance changes presented at public hearing last week that include giving the Planning Board and building inspector authority to revoke a special permit or levy fines if the applicant fails to abide by the permit. 

Tags: fiscal 2022,   

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Comfortable Temperatures, Thunderstorms in Store For The Rest of the Week

Staff Reports
Temperatures are expected to stay in the 70s this week. This is lower than the seasonal average.
Meteorologist Steve Caporizzo tweeted a graphic Tuesday indicating that temperatures have typically been in the 80s this time of year. 
Today in North Adams, temperatures should stay in the 70s with mostly cloudy skies. According to Accuweather, do not expect the temperature to go above 76 Wednesday
Similar conditions can be found in Central and South County. Accuweather predicts a little more sun further south.
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