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North Adams Council Takes Next Steps for Fines, Fee Changes
By Tammy Daniels, iBerkshires Staff
05:20AM / Wednesday, April 10, 2024
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday passed to a second reading the adoption of a Mass General Law that will bring its parking fees into compliance. 
The Finance Committee has been working on pulling all the fees and fines out of ordinance and into an appendix that can be changed much easier. 
"We had a couple of meetings in the Finance Committee, about this specifically," said Councilor Andrew Fitch, a committee member. "We also had a meeting with our city solicitor who informed us that we are out of compliance right now and we're out of compliance because we as a city adopted in 1981 Chapter 90, Section 20A, which states that the maximum fine for Motor Vehicle and Traffic funds is $25."
Some of the city's fines are $50 and the solicitor recommended rescinding the adoption of 20A and adopting the more recent version of the law, Section 20A 1/2, which supports the higher fines. 
"So very simply, this needs to be done before we approve [the ordinance changes]," said Councilor Keith Bona, chair of the committee. "So the next meeting if we are, you know, if the policies and fines come into place, we need this to be in place before we do that."
Councilor Ashley Shade, another committee member, pointed out that fines related to handicapped parking fall under another state law.
Councilor Wayne Wilkinson initially suggested it be referred to the General Government Committee but the Finance members asked that it be voted on that night. 
"We did discuss it, we did already have a meeting with the solicitor and it was well discussed," said Bona. "So if it does get referred to another meeting ... we need to approve it before we can take the next step in approving the fees."
Councilor Lisa Blackmer questioned the paperwork, saying it was not presented in formal ordinance form. City Clerk Tina Leonesio said she would make sure it was in proper form for the next meeting. 
The council voted unanimously to pass to a second reading and publish with the expectation it would be adopted with the ordinance changes for fees at the next meeting. 
In other business: 
The council confirmed the reappointment of Richard Wood to the Parks and Recreation Commission May 1, 2029.
Mayor Jennifer Macksey said there have been talks internally on how to address crosswalks in terms of aesthetics and safety. Fitch had brought the issue to the council in February and it was referred to the administration. 
She said she will have something at the June meeting and added that there is some progress on Fitch's idea of painting electrical boxes as had been done in Pittsfield.
• The council responded to three Open Meeting Law complaints filed by resident Karen Tatro over meeting minutes of the City Council, Finance Committee and General Government Committee not being posted on the website. 
While the city posts meeting minutes on the city website, it is not required to do so by Mass General Law to do so. 
City Clerk Tina Leonesio said there was never a request made to her office for the minutes, which she has on file. All six City Council meeting minutes referenced have been posted to the website as of Tuesday, said Council President Bryan Sapienza
"The meeting minutes of the three [City Council] meetings that you allege were out of compliance were approved within the time requirements of the Open Meeting Law, regulations, and were on file City Clerk's Office as required by law," read Council President Bryan Sapienza from his response to Tatro.
The other two complaints were referred to the appropriate committees. 
Blackmer noted that those complaints were by law supposed to be sent to the chairs of the committees, not to the city clerk and council president as they had been. She recommended that the responses to them include that as to why they were beyond the 14 days to answer.
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