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Vice Council President Jason LaForest is currently the acting council president.

North Adams City Council Holds Off on Adjusting Salary for Library Position

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday night decided to hold off on approving a 24 percent increase in the starting salary for an open children's librarian position at the North Adams Public Library.
 
Mayor Thomas Bernard asked the council to increase the position from Step 1 to Step 5 of the city's compensation plan, which would raise the starting salary to $40,399 from $32,608 after two candidate searches failed because applicants declined the position due to the salary.
 
"Now that COVID restrictions have been lifted and the library has reopened to the public it is important that we hire a youth services librarian to lead our necessary and popular youth programs," Bernard wrote the council. "We have identified a promising candidate and request approval to set the starting salary at Step 5 of the compensation plan, with a starting salary of $40,399."
 
Several councilors said that the library position is just one of several that need a salary review, and some had issues with the process, arguing that the salary adjustments should be made by ordinance rather than through an order from the council.
 
"There are a bunch of other positions," Lisa Blackmer said. "I understand the sense of urgency for this position, but there are other positions that need to be looked at.
 
"I think it's a conversation we need to have. I think we should do a salary study, and I have no problem with this and another item on the agenda being referred to finance."
 
Ben Lamb indicated the problem may be structural, because requiring some positions to come in at Step 1 on the compensation plan does not leave room for negotiation.
 
"I wonder if it's best practice to say, 'commensurate with experience' as standard language," Lamb said. "If we nail ourselves down at a lower salary, that's just setting us up for failure."
 
Lamb also argued that the library position vacancy is urgent, a point Bernard tried to make at Tuesday's meeting.
 
"It's a seat that's empty, it's summer, there is programming happening," Bernard said. "The sooner the better, let's say."
 
The council voted 7-0 to refer the question to its Finance Committee to report back to the council's July 27 meeting. Councilors Jessica Sweeney and Wayne Wilkinson did not attend Tuesday's meeting.
 
Another item that the council hoped to act on Tuesday was also pushed off to the July 27 meeting because of an error in the ordinance that was published prior to Tuesday's session.
 
The City Council was scheduled to approve a change to the composition of the Airport Commission that would have allowed up to two members of the five-person body to be residents of a town that borders the city, provided no one town has more than one member on the panel.
 
But at the start of Tuesday's meeting, former Airport Commissioner Trevor Gilman told the council that the ordinance language on the agenda did not include an important detail.
 
"There is very specialized subject matter on the commission, and we're lacking people with aeronautical experience," Gilman said. "Right now, we don't have enough North Adams residents willing to serve who have that knowledge base.
 
"Councilor Blackmer, Sweeney and I worked on wording that would accomplish these things by requiring … 'aeronautical knowledge' … for at least two of the five. The current wording being presented tonight doesn't require that."
 
Later, Blackmer confirmed that the General Government Committee of the council did intend to include language requiring Airport Commission members with experience in the field, and she withdrew a motion to approve the ordinance revision on the table.
 
Councilor Keith Bona moved that the ordinance be republished correctly and the council plan to take it up at the July 27 meeting, a motion that passed, 7-0.
 
In other action on Tuesday, the City Council:
 
• Approved budget transfers in the amount of $658,675.11 to close out the fiscal year 2021 books. One of the highlights, Bernard noted, was that the city needed to find "only" $25,923 to cover snow and ice removal expenses from the winter of 2020-21. "That's a good number," he said. "Usually, that is a big cause for concern."
 
• Delayed until the July 27 meeting a decision on a request from Bona to address the time allowed for discussions at council meetings.
 
• Learned from Bernard that the city had reached an agreement with residents of Woodlawn Avenue who had asked about extending the city sewer line to their neighborhood. Bernard said the city will extend the main line and residents will be responsible for making the hookup to their respective houses.
 
• Referred to the Finance Committee a proposal by Councilor Marie T. Harpin to raise the mayor's salary in an effort to attract candidates for the office.

Tags: airport commission,   library,   

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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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