NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday night authorized the transfer of $786,441.46 from a number of departments to close out the city's books for fiscal 2011.
The amounts ranged from $2,627 from the wire and alarm account to $225,000 from the School Department to balance the books in other accounts, including significant overruns in police ($264,000) and fire ($180,279) salaries because of overtime, disabilities and four officers away at academy.
"It is lengthy but no different than any other year," said Mayor Richard Alcombright of the number of transfers. "This is required to be done by July 15."
The mayor told the council that he had kept the Finance Committee informed of existing overruns, which included a significant deficit in the veterans service account that required a $164,000 transfer from free cash, emptying that account
Councilor Marie Harpin is sworn in by City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau for service on the Housing Authority Board. Harpin was appointed by Gov. Deval Patrick as the state representative on the board.
"While we have overruns due to spending increases in school and city departments, we were able to hold back in many areas," he said. "We're fortunate that with exception of free cash transferred two weeks ago and a $50,000 order you will see coming next from reserves, we were able to cover all other expenses in this year's budget despite a $400,000 shortfall in local receipts."
Councilor Lisa Blackmer questioned the small amount — $4,198.36 — transferred from the tourism department considering the director had left in March. Alcombright, after confirming with Business Manager Nancy Ziter, said that account, like a number of others, had not been emptied.
All unexpended funds from each fiscal year are rolled over into free cash once the books are certified by the Department of Revenue.
"The cost savings we projected were somewhere in the $30,000 to $40,000 range and after [Public Works Commissioner Timothy Lescarbeau] did some analysis, it was closer to $70,000 to $75,000 that we saved," said the mayor.
The council also approved a $50,000 transfer from the landfill reserve account to the Department of Public Safety's trash removal service account as a "buffer" in case unanticipated bills come in. If nothing comes in, the money will fall into free cash.
Resident Robert Cardimino asked how much was left in the city reserves. Alcombright said there was zero in the free cash account after the last transfer; about $310,000 in the stabilization and, after the transfer, $212,000 in the combined landfill and parking meter reserve accounts.
The mayor said he expected to dip into the reserves to help in balancing the fiscal 2012 budget. Last year, the city used some $1.2 million from what was left in the land sale account to balance the fiscal 2011 budget.
"There was not a lot in there but we just found out today that about $75,000 more is coming our way in state aid," he said, adding the passage of the state budget this week also holds up hope for more funds from some $65 million targeted to local aid.
Meanwhile, the deficit has been cut from more than $1 million to $404,000. The mayor expects to present the Plan B budget at the next meeting.
In other business:
• The council approved the rappointment of Pearl Mullett to the Housing Authority and the appointment of Ross Jacobs, an alternate on the Zoning Board, to complete the term of permanent member Ernest Gamache and for Gregory Roach to fill out Jacobs' term, both terms ending next year.
• Approved a request by Ernest Dix of Clarksburg to connect to the city's water system.
• Heard a statement in open forum by Mark Trottier addressing the importance of allowing residents to speak to the council.
• A request from Big Shirl's Kitchen owners Renee and Mark Lapier to allow their establishment to offer "bring your own bottle."
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I would have loved to have read more of Mr. Trottier, so elequently put speech to the councilor;s on policy $ procedures during council meetings,the importance of allowing residents to speak to the council.
Editor: It was very lengthy. I am going to ask him for the entire statement so I can post it. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Sorry, but councilor lamarre looked lost last night. In over his head. What part of "the city cannot stop them" did he not get. I understand we want to regulate it, but until then, the city cannot stop them. It was pretty clear.
Dear Mr. Trottier,
How dare you critisize the members of the city council. Do you not know they are the elite of the city. You should be happy that you are even allowed into the meetings. The fact that Councilor Boland even listened to you should be an honor.
Obvioulsy....the above is satire. I think Mr. Trottier was spot on. And so to ex councilor this fall Boland showed the arrogance of city councilors on that side of the room with his retort.
Arrogant, As far as arrogant councilors go Mr. Boland does not hold a candle to the most arrogant Bloom and Bona. Fome what Mr. Trottier said it sounds like someone could sue the city. To not allow someone into a public meeting with a sign was clearly a violation of his first amendment rights.
The First Amendment does NOT guarantee the right to carry a sign into chambers. An argument could have been made for the t-shirt, but even the SCOTUS has affirmed limitations on that in "neutral" places.
The council has the authority to set rules for its own meetings and the conduct within them. If I had the time, I would pull the relevant case law for you, but I suspect it would be completely lost on you.
It might surprise you to know that I disagree with the council on their restrictions. But it is their meeting and as long as they follow the law, they can run it the way they see fit.
True Wayne.....the funny thing is Keith did not use to be that way....when he was on the council 10 years ago he seemed to be level headed. Bond has always been an entitled little rich kid, so I expected that.
Not sure Tammy--I think that there was a Council meeting that night but it adjourned and then the Mayor did his dog and pony show----no relevance to the Council agenda as the budget had not yet been submitted-still hasn't for that matter---but Council was not sitting this no Council rules---it was the Mayor's show--at least that's what I THINK
Editor: It was presented under open forum, according to the agenda. So, wouldn't that still be considered a council meeting? Or would putting in open forum put it outside the formal structure? I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
At one time or another I have worked on volunteer projects with the current city councilors. They came across as friendly people. I've met Mr. Cardimino and he also was friendly. Judging anyone by a single moment or how they react at a council meeting is not fair to any side. I don't find the City Council scary but won't go to a meeting. I don't want to be mentioned in the media and crucified on blogs and web sites like these. These days when someone speaks out they get ripped apart on social networks and blogs. Who want's that?
Correct me if I am wrong but the city council isn't required to have an open forum? People can't walk into any government meeting, federal, state or local and speak their mind at anytime. Why do people think they can take over the city council meeting when they weren't voted by the people to represent them?
Editor: Councils are allowed to set their own rules. Check out Boston's rules of order; not only is the public not allowed to speak or bring in advocacy materials, the councilors are limited to the amount of time they can speak. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Wayne....he must be a councilor. They dont like to be quesitoned.
Liars Nope . Wayne does not know any great secret about anything. I think someone may have a pill to help with anger management. If I find out about it I will tell you and the editor about it. Have a wonderful day.
:: Preliminary Election: Deadline to register is Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Office open from 8 to 8.)
:: General Election: Deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 18
Registration can be completed at the city clerk's office at City Hall.
Absentee ballots are now available at the city clerk's office for the Sept. 27 preliminary city election. Voters may come in between the hours of 8 and 4:30 weekdays. Written reguests for mailed ballots can be sent to City Clerk's Office, 10 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Sept. 26, at noon.
The preliminary election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, to narrow the field of three mayoral candidates to two. The general election to select nine city councilors and a mayor will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.