NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday night approved a revised fiscal 2012 budget of $35,074,495, reflecting some $462,515 more in cuts for the so-called "Plan B" budget.
Mayor Richard Alcombright said the reductions reflected the "will of the voters," who rejected his bid for a $1.2 million override in June to balance the budget.
"During the override discussions, I heard that people wanted local government to downsize spending holding the line with a budget that's more reflective of a population that's been in decline for many years," he said in a prepared statement to the council.
The mayor said the 2012 budget reflects a 3.2 percent decrease, or $1.125 million in cuts, over the past two years.
The city's nearly $1 million deficit has been reduced to about $423,000 (not counting some $560,000 in underfunded accounts in the school department being covered by school-choice funds). The shortfall will be funded between anticipated increases in state aid and more than a half-million in reserves and free cash.
Councilor Alan Marden, a member of the Finance Committee, reads the line item reductions of $462,000 more for fiscal 2012.
The council unanimously approved the budget, with Councilors President Ronald Boucher and Michael Bloom absent, despite urging from former Mayor John Barrett III to question accounts such as salaries and questionable water-treatment plant savings.
"There are a lot of other questions that haven't been asked that should be asked," said Barrett, who is considering a rematch against Alcombright after being ousted in 2009. "It's being done in subcommittee, it's not being done in the full view ...
"When I was mayor, I always brought and went through it step by step, line item by line item explaining why there were shortages," he said. "What [voters] wanted to see was some accountability."
The city will still be taxing to its levy limit to fund this year's budget.
Residential taxes will rise 41 cents per $1,000 valuation, or about $61.50 on home valued at $150,000.
The commerical rate will increase about 90 cents.
Mayor Alcombright said he would not shift more to the residential side but said there could be other ways to ease the commercial tax burden.
Alcombright objected, saying "the Finance Committee met, literally, for hours and hours on this budget. ... I don't think there was anything that was unanswered and, quite honestly, I don't think there was anything unasked."
"Where were the questions — I did question it — when we transferred in $1.8 million in December '09 to reduce the budget?" he countered. "That started my administration with a $3.2 million deficit."
Barrett responded, "We had the money available to keep the tax rate down. I make no apologies for that I make no apologies for doing it in 1991, 1992 or any other time."
The two, not suprisingly, also differed on the medical insurance trust fund, the semantics of audits and mismanagement, and the back and forth began to resemble a campaign debate before Council Vice President Lisa Blackmer, presiding in the absence of Boucher (who is also considering a run), brought it to a close.
In other business:
• The mayor provided an opinion from the city solicitor finding that Berkshire Family and Individual Resources' residential home on Lorraine Drive was a permitted use. Neighbors on the street had petitioned that the nonprofit BFAIR was operating a business and should not be allowed to operate a home for the disabled and developmentally challenged.
• Approved a five-year lease agreement for an all-terrain mower for $39,000, nearly $43,000 with an interest rate of 4.75, with option to buy at the end. Councilor Alan Marden voted against after advocating buying the mower outright rather than paying annually.
• The mayor reported that the city will get $700,000 back from the $880,000 held for Blue Cross Blue Shield for the runout — or unexpired claims — as the city switched away from self-insurance. Alcombright said the funds will wipeout the city's $680,000 liability with the state.
The agenda for Tuesday's meeting can be found here; the new budget numbers can be found here. Note that the final reduction is $5,000 more because of a a math error. Edited since posting to remove confusing language.
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Did Barrett say "when he was mayor he brought in a step by step' line by line budget? To who? Not the people. Not the council. Does he dream these things and believe they are real? He thinks he had more finance meetings and public hearings than Alcombright? There were four public meetings including council meetings for people to ask questions. How many public meetings did Barrett have about a budget? Wake up John!
Another override is on the way !!!! The mayor was asked if he was going to push for another override if elected . He did not answer he sat red faced looking into space. So if he is elected we can expect another override try. The majority of the voters said NO once ,what is it he doesn't understand ??
Who cares about Bloom. Boucher is the one running for mayor becuase he says the city should be managed different. He skips the meeting where the budget has to be accepted? Is that his management style? Or is it a way to say he didn't approve the budget without having to be there to vote on it. I couldn't tell for sure but it looked like his campaign manager Robert Moulton was sitting next to John Barrett. What's that all about?
No override vote is coming. Cardimino asked the question in open forum. Mayor Alcombright didn't turn red, shook his head no and didn't bother wasting his time to respond. Real Wayne is anything but real. Glad JB has 2000 promised votes. That's almost what he received last time. Are these promises in writing or is that how many people he is threatening.
Why did John Barrett the current director of Berkshire Works talk about every agenda item except the one about Berkshire Works? Harpin read a letter from Berkshire Works director John Barrett. He was there. He can't speak for himself? He couldn't shut up about anything else.
"Bloom ducked out again. Doesn't want to face the public. Musy have been working on his house in Williamstown"
I would never write such garbage. Stop the name game.
I love how you people expect so much from these Councilors - like they don't have a life to live too. I find it ridiculous that we just eliminated the salaries for the Councilors.
Imagine, volunteering to attend two Council meetings per month (4 hrs), plus whatever prep time is required (few hrs), plus time addressing city residents concerns (few more hrs), plus whatever meetings you happen to be appointed liaison (another 4+ hrs?), plus public events (few hrs each), plus all the volunteer committees your invited to be on (???), plus attend conferences all over the place (???), plus get to go through the always fun process of running for election, plus, plus, plus. Then, in return for your service, you are constantly chastised by the ever complaining, yet do nothing, public and heaven forbid you sign up for the city health plan and "steal" the taxpayers money.
Even at minimum wage ($8/hr) this would be over $2000/yr. Who do you think in their right mind would run for this position? Your about to find out as probably 4 councilors won't return and look who the replacement choices are. We'll get just what we pay for, as we know all to well here in NA.
FromHere It could be Bloom is practicing staying home on the second and fourth tue, of every month. He will have to get used to it after the next election.
Bob C. has been to more council meetings than Bloom . Perhaps he should a pension and insurance to.
Editor: Councilor Bloom as already indicated he is not running; Mr. Cardimino has only begun attending meetings since late 2009 so, no, he has not attended more meetings than the councilor. Nor has he attended more meetings than me. Perhaps I should get insurance and a pension. I Agree (9) - I Disagree (2)
From (or should I call you Greg) your comments are so obvious. No one is forcing these people to run
:: 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.