Not a member? Become one today!
         iBerkshires     Berkshire Chamber     MCLA     City Statistics    
North Adams Council OKs New Salary Plan With Mayoral Raise
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
02:34PM / Wednesday, May 25, 2022
Print | Email  

New firefighters Avery Nye and Zachary Reidy are sworn on Tuesday night by City Clerk Marcus Lyon.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday passed a new classification and compensation plan that adds or modifies several new positions and gives the mayor a $10,000 raise. 
The plan was recommended by the Finance Committee that reviewed it two weeks ago.
The mayor's salary had been an issue last year when the council rejected an attempt to raise it by Councilor Marie T. Harpin during the mayoral campaign. At the time, councilors agreed that the salary was too low but felt it should be taken up during budget deliberations and outside of any political shadow. 
This time, there was no disagreement on raising the annual wage from $88,470 to $98,000, a 10.77 percent hike. 
Mayor Jennifer Macksey said at the Finance Committee meeting that she "felt weird" giving herself a pay increase but that it should be addressed based on last year's discussions. 
The city has contracted with the University of Massachusetts' Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management to review the compensation plan and make recommendations. The study is not completed but Macksey said acting Administrative Officer Katherine Eade and center staff had looked at comparable chief executives. 
"Most of those numbers came in at six figures," the mayor told the Finance Committee. "I'm not asking for that in my first year or my first six months on the job."
The mayor's salary went up by $4,000 between fiscal 2020 and 2021 after sitting at $84,470 for more than a decade. Former Mayor Richard Alcombright had rejected an attempt to raise the wage during his tenure because of the city's precarious financial condition at the time and had, instead, stripped the office of some of its perks. 
The wage increase was not discussed at all at Tuesday's City Council meeting.  
The mayor said the compensation plan reflects an increase of 1.5 percent and several positions were adjusted to the minimum wage of $15 an hour, though these positions are not normally filled. The fire and police chief and deputy fire chief lines were updated to reflect their contract salaries of $88,813, $91,497 and $78,043, respectively. These are all up 1.5 percent over this year. 
"The goal for the compensation plan was to adjust the lines that we knew there were problems in and as we go with the compensation and study, we will adjust that in the future budget statement," said the mayor. 
The plans also includes a fiscal compliance manager and events coordinator and, in the mayor's office, a grants and communication specialist.
"We added a new title called grants fiscal manager and events coordinator and what has happened there as we were unable to fill our events coordinator position," said the mayor. Alexis Boutin in the Community Development Office was willing to take on some of these duties.
Boutin had been titled fiscal compliance and procurement but was not doing procurement so it made sense to create a title to reflect the actual duties.
The post will not be as "front facing" as the tourism director, who had been very involved in a number of local boards and initiatives but more as a coordinator. Macksey said the position would be reviewed at the end of the year to see how it is working.
Both original positions are still in the plan, she said. "We may find in a year that it doesn't work. But I wanted to have some wiggle room and I didn't want to give someone an assignment that was not in the classification."
With the summer approaching, the mayor said there was not much time deliberate on an alternative. 
The new position in her office is similar to that previously proposed by former City Councilor Benjamin Lamb, Macksey said. 
"This position will focus on new grant grant assurances, grant compliance research and external communications, as well as procurement and other administrative duties," she said. 
The public safety clerk is being reclassified as business manager, again to reflect actual duties, and a part-time clerk is being added. The animal control officer had already been reclassified but had not been updated on the plan until now. 
The Collins study is being done through a $20,000 grant obtained by the last administration. Center staff have been interviewing employees in person and through Zoom calls about their duties in 42 positions. These will be compared to similar positions in other communities. 
"I think we will use that as a tool for our next budget cycle. Keeping in mind, I suspect we're going to have some sticker shock there when we see some of it come back," said mayor in response to questions. "There has to be a plan of how we're going to come to terms and move forward with that data but it was not ready for this budget."
Councilor Keith Bona, chair of the Finance Committee, said some compensation, including the mayor's, was bumped up in this plan but added "I think when we look at the whole thing [the study], our jaws are going to drop a little."
"I don't think surprisingly. I think we sort of know what we're going to be told and it's more going to be like, how can we do that versus we don't know," he said. 
The new C&C plan was passed unanimously to a second reading and to be published. 
In other business:
The council also confirmed Arlen Cellena to be reappointed to the Windsor Lake Recreation Commission for a term to expire April 1, 2025.
• The council voted to make library employees compensated for 800 hours or less as special municipal employees. This was recommended by the city solicitor and Ethics Commission as some employees also work in other municipal or state positions, including as teachers, and covered by bargaining units. The vote was 7-1, with Councilor Jennifer Barbeau voting no and Council President Lisa Blackmer absent. 
• The mayor read a proclamation declaring June as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month stating "the city of North Adams supports the rights of every citizen to experience a quality and freedom from discrimination."
• The city clerk swore in Avery Nye and Zachary Reidy as firefighters. Nye has five years experience with the North Brookfield Fire Department and has obtained Fire Fighter 1 and 2 certification and hazmat operations level responder certification, as well taking several classes at the Firefighter Academy. The mayor said he comes "highly recommended" by the North Brookfield fire chief. 
Reidy is from Belchertown and is a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, with a bachelor of science in emergency management, and has been with the Onset Fire Department for three years. He has Fire Fighter 1 and 2 certification as well as hazmat operations level responder. He also has taken incident command systems and OSHA classes. 
More Featured Stories is owned and operated by: Boxcar Media 102 Main Sreet, North Adams, MA 01247 -- T. 413-663-3384
© 2011 Boxcar Media LLC - All rights reserved