Finance Committee 11-23-20
November 23, 2020
Meeting called to order at 6:32 by Chairman McGiverin
Members present: Councilor Bartley, Tallman, and Sullivan
Other Councilors present: Councilors Murphy, Vacon, and Greaney
Chair McGiverin: welcomed new administrative assistant to meeting, Jeffery Anderson-Burgos.
Councilor Tallman: motion to take item 1 off of table, seconded by Councilor Bartley. All vote in favor.
Chair McGiverin: asked if Jonathan Maldonado or anyone representing him is present. Described issues with tracking down contact information.
Councilor Bartley: motion to put on table, seconded by Councilor Tallman. All vote in favor.
Councilor Tallman: motion to take item 2 off table, seconded by Councilor Bartley. All vote in favor.
Chair McGiverin: stated item as Second Hand License Application for Diego Torres at 241 Main St.
Torres: stated he has had license for two years, renewed in March, but has moved from 247 to 241 Main St. Move requires new license approval.
Chair McGiverin: clarified that new address is reason for new approval. Also asked what activities business is involved in.
Torres: stated they buy electronics, cell phone, computers, tablets. No jewelry, precious metals, or gems.
Chair McGiverin: asked if for security reasons, Torres keeps list for police department.
Torres: Stated he has a program, takes pictures, holds items for 30 days and then is free to sell.
Chair McGiverin: asked if property is owned or rented.
Torres: stated he rents property from David Rodriguez.
Chair McGiverin: stated that committee will check with tax collector that all taxes are paid. Also asked for any questions from committee.
Councilor Bartley: made motion to approve, pending check on taxes, seconded by Councilor Tallman. All in favor.
Chair McGiverin: instructed Torres that item would be taken up at the next full council meeting the following Tuesday. City Clerk should have the new license the next day or two after that.
Councilor Bartley: made motion to take item 3 off table, seconded by Councilor Tallman. All vote in favor.
Chair McGiverin: read item.
Chair McGiverin: stated that item has been in committee for some time. Stated that 10 items have been prioritized for bonding.
Councilor Vacon: stated he filed order because of communication that boding was inadequate. She has been in communication with Michael McManus, Superintendent of DPW. Apremont light is separate from other 10, designed and went out to bid, which came back too high within authorization. They should be able to get it done within bonding limits will work on over next month. Materials fabricated in winter for spring construction. All projects seem able to move forward as previously thought. This seems to be way to accomplish.
Chair McGiverin: asked for any other discussion or questions.
Councilor Leahy joined at 6:38pm
Councilor Vacon. Order seems to be complied with.
Councilor Tallman: to Councilor Vacon – if they break up, does that affect any other intersections in the 10?
Councilor Vacon: communication from McManus was general, break it up and self-perform it similar to other projects in the 10.
Councilor Tallman: expressed concern that one is being taken out to put Apremont into the 10.
Councilor Vacon: clarified that it was meant that Apremont is similar to the 10 priority intersections.
Chair McGiverin: asked for any other Discussion.
Councilor Tallman: made motion that item has been complied with.
Councilor Bartley: made motion to solicit communication from McManus, provide update to City Council on 12/1, seconded by Councilor Leahy. All vote in favor.
Councilor Bartley: to Admin, send communication to McManus asking for update on both bond packages relative to lighting.
Councilor Leahy made motion to report out of committee, seconded by Councilor Tallman. All vote in favor.
Councilor Batrley: made motion to take item 4 off table, seconded by Councilor Leahy. All vote in favor.
Chair McGiverin: read item 4. Stated that Chief of Police or a representative was invited to discuss. Asked Sgt. Hart if he was in attendance for this item. Asked admin if Chief was heard form. Stated that Sgt. Hart was having difficulty getting into meeting.
Councilor Vacon: stated she filed order after looking at audit report. Expressed concern that over $200k was unpaid. Stated that way to prevent problem form getting worse would be to make sure people catch up on accounts before they will be provided more details.
Sgt. Hart: stated it is a constant problem and has been discussed several times in City Council meetings. Stated one way would be to not allow them to bid on future projects in city. Also stated that occasionally when balance is looked at, some deposits are held in Treasurer’s Office for transfer.
Councilor Sullivan: remembered conversation a couple years ago. Observed that it was brought up at meeting. Suggsted that police dept can do same as water dept. fee has to be paid before work can commence, but idea has never been implemented. Stated lag in reports makes it more difficult to address.
Sgt. Hart: asked about balance of off duty percentage, and where it is being applied.
Councilor Leahy: agreed with intent of order. Observed that contractors are getting paid by city but they are not paying city for details.
Councilor Tallman: agreed with colleagues. Also Suggested that much like vendors have to pay right away for merchandise, money should be paid up front before work is done.
Councilor Murphy: agreed with order. Asked questions to Sgt. Hart, when officers work detail, when are they paif?
Sgt. Hart: responded they are paid the following pay period.
Councilor Murphy: suggested that pay for details should be paid net 15, or take out of accounts.
Sgt. Hart: observed issue depending on how long project takes. Example: if project takes a month, vendor not paid until job is complete.
Councilor Murphy: observed that if they must pay their ow payroll, they ought to be paying the city.
Councilor Vacon: appreciated recommendations from Councilors Sullivan and Tallman in requiring up front payments from vendors with history of not paying. Also observed they should pay outstanding balance before being put into that category. City showing seriousness will compel people to pay.
Councilor Sullivan: reading from report: “these receivables are not maintained in the city’s general ledger or collector’s record. As a result, there is no independent verification performed to determine whether all the service is even billed or collected.” Suggested that at end of job, before they’re paid, owed amount could be deducted.
Councilor Bartley:: to Sgt. Hart, asked if familiar with audit report.
Sgt. Hart: Heard but don’t have copy.
Councilor Bartley: through Chair and Admin, do you have copy? Point is that within document, “Auditor’s office will be working with the Police Department to set up a system to track account receivables with the general ledger. The police recently purchased a new building software to assist with this effort. They will be working together to decrease the amount of uncollectable accounts and to reduce the fund deficit.” Used example of publicizing names of those who hadn’t pad property taxes or sewer funds, should consider publicizing names of vendors who owe to city.
Councilor Leahy: suggested meeting to calibrate the report.
Chair McGiverin: observed good suggestions from everyone. Observed that situation is unacceptable. Hoped that it could be largely a tacking issue. Details are necessary, officers are paid well, bills should be paid. Also observed that deficits are coming out of free cash. Departments need to work with auditors. Stated that message needs to be sent.
Councilor Bartley: Stated he sent email with audit report to Sgt. Hart, Chief of Police, and admin.
Chair McGiverin: observed that a meeting had just happened with the mayor and finance people, and that a supplemental budget may be coming. Observed he spoke with Assessor about Classification hearing. Observed that there is ongoing work to finalize budget.
Councilor Bartley: suggested that item should be tabled to be taken up with audit.
Councilor Vacon: asked that item be resolved soon so it doesn’t have to be addressed again.
Councilor Bartley: made motion to table item, seconded by Councilor Tallman. All vote in favor.
All in favor of tabling.
Councilor Bartley: made motion to take 5 and 6 as package, seconded by Councilor Leahy. All vote in favor.
Chair McGiverin: asked how each grant is used.
Sgt. Hart: Stated that first grant is for training and personnel. Also stated that neither grant requires matching funds from the city. Also clarified that neither item requires Councilor Leahy to recuse from voting on. Clarified categories that each grant is broken into.
Chair McGiverin: asked for questions from councilors.
Councilor Tallman: asked number of dispatchers.
Sgt. Hart: replied that both grants cover 13 current dispatchers: 12 full time and 1 part time.
Councilor Sullivan: asked for personnel item, that is to pay dispatchers while taking classes.
Sgt. Hart: replied that they are paid overtime while taking class if on day off.
Councilor Murphy: asked to clarify that they get overtime for a required class.
Sgt. Hart: stated that overtime depends on when class is offered. They can’t pick when course is available. If it is available on a day when a dispatcher is off, they are paid overtime to attend. When on a day they work, they go to class, someone replacing them on dispatch shift would be paid overtime.
Councilor Bartley: to Sgt: asked what the source of grant is?
Sgt. Hart: replied that it comes from the state, E911.
Councilor Bartley: asked what department it is from.
Sgt. Hart: can’t say.
Councilor Bartley: asked if dispatchers are mostly from Holyoke?
Sgt. Hart: believed that most are from Holyoke, but not sure.
Councilor Murphy: asked if training is provided to dispatchers to discern what kind of response they are appropriate for.
Sgt. Hart: stated that course covers different topics every year.
Councilor Murphy: asked if dispatchers must take specific courses or if they choose the courses to take.
Sgt. Hart: clarified that only courses that E911 supports.
Councilor Murphy: asked to clarify that dispatchers don’t get to choose.
Chair McGiverin: asked for breakdown on second grant.
Sgt. Hart: described that grant is support and incentive grant. Offered breakdown of costs for categories.
Chair McGiverin: asked for explanation of line items, clarification on if grant can create a surplus.
Sgt. Hart: stated that it could because they never know how if or how much grant would be.
Chair McGiverin: discussed break-in at merry-go-round, as well as at Children’s Museum. Offered positive perspective on work dispatchers do.
Councilor Bartley: asked if the source of funds is E911 from the state.
Sgt. Hart: stated it is. Might be own entity.
Councilor Bartley: asked for duration of grant.
Sgt. Hart: stated that it starts date of when contract is returned after being signed, might have been some time in October. Stated he can go back to date and reclassify funds.
Councilor Bartley: asked if it is for one year or longer.
Sgt. Hart: stated it goes from date of signed contract until June 30th.
Councilor Tallman: Asked if city has been getting this amount in grant every year.
Sgt. Hart: stated that in past 3 or 4, city was getting $175,400. Upgraded 911 system with a next gen software. Increase in money due to increase in call volume.
Councilor Tallman: Clarified that Councilors Bartley and Leahy will file report when report of grants is available.
Sgt. Hart: stated he was not sure how much to report, and that he would have to request copy of call volume, that it would show what money is based on.
Councilor Tallman: stated it would be good to know when money is available for others things.
Councilor Sullivan: adding on to Councilor Tallman’s statement, stated that wording of grants includes method appropriate for accounting of receipts and expenditures with said grant. Went on to state that nowhere is there accounting for administration of grant, just statistics, citations, accidents. Nowhere in report is how money was spent.
Sgt. Hart: stated that grant would have fund number in munis, should show where and how money is spent.
Councilor Sullivan: stated that it should be in report to avoid need to research it.
Councilor Leahy: clarified that the reason councilors filed report was to have all of the information without the need for research.
Sgt. Hart: stated it would take some time to gather information, and that Auditor has information as well.
Chair McGiverin: suggested that when department heads send report of final grant closing, they should coordinate with auditor on who is responsible to include financial report. Outside auditor points out deficiencies. We should find compromise to see information at end of grant.
Councilor made by Councilor Tallman to accept provisions of grants, seconded by Councilor Leahy. All vote in favor.
Councilor Tallman: made motion to take up item 7, seconded by Councilor Bartley. All vote in favor.
Chair McGiverin: stated item should be taken up for auditing, accountability purposes.
Councilor Bartley: observed that it was taken up at city council but pushed back to finance at request of Law Department. Added that item is tricky to navigate because of union issues. Motion made to allow law department to discuss, seconded by Councilor Leahy. All in favor.
Barnes: clarified that when it was brought up in regular council, it was stated that designation as a special municipal employee bas to go to a position, not an individual. Designation comes with requirements and restrictions, offered some examples of positions that would be appropriate for this designation.
Chair McGiverin: Clarified that some of Ryan’s work was not during hours of DPW work. Asked about paying him overtime hours.
Barnes: stated it could not work that way because it is creating a new position. He could not be paid both positions at the same time.
Chair McGiverin: observed that Ryan Allen worked hard, deserves to be paid.
Barnes: stated that she is not sure there is a way.
Chair McGiverin: observed that it is common practice in private sector. Often that outgoing person trains incoming person.
Barnes: reiterated that designation has to be to position.
Chair McGiverin: asked if he could be made consultant to the city council.
Barnes: advised that would require creating a position, creating a contract and looking at conflicts of interest.
Councilor Leahy: observed that when someone retires at state level, to bring them back, they can bring them back per diem.
Barnes: stated that issue with Ryan is that he is working two city jobs.
Councilor Bartley: suggested that we should consider tabling, getting communication from mayor on how to proceed. Law departments says what it says. It is a unique situation where Ryan got job and gave notice, but at request of council, we needed him to stay on to transition the current admin. Ryan did the job, beyond his regular job. He can provide a timesheet documenting hours worked. We need to get it into hands of mayor, and get a communication from mayor. He should be reimbursed for two months’ worth of work.
Councilor Sullivan: to the Chair – asked how much money is owed to him.
Chair McGiverin: didn’t know but it can be found out.
Councilor Sullivan: Councilor Bartley suggested communication is sent to but there is often no response on previous requests. Made a suggestion that money be paid out of “Flower Fund” since there will not be a holiday gathering.
Councilor Vacon: expressed that is open to idea of paying from “Flower Fund.” Still believed that mayor should be approached to enter into a contract, highlighted work that was done while waiting for new admin to start on top of the training.
Councilor Tallman: agreed that mayor should be communicated with. Observed that due to Covid, three positions have been created. Stated that Ryan was essential in transferring info to new admin, helping in the council office, and mayor. Should see if contract can be written. If not, would be open to taking out of “Flower Fund.”
Councilor Murphy: agree with taking out of “Flower Fund.” Creating contract after work is done might have legal issues. Ryan should be paid as soon as possible.
Councilor Bartley: planned to contact Ryan to accounting for time. Made motion for communication to be sent to mayor requesting for suggestions on paying Ryan, ask for report back, seconded by Councilor Tallman.
Councilor Vacon: observed that in public meeting, intent to pay Ryan was made.
Councilor Murphy: stated that without Covid crisis, meetings would have been in City Hall, making it easier to run temporarily without an admin.
Chair McGiverin: order on floor is done because of legal opinion.
Councilor Leahy: stated support for paying Ryan. Expressed support for taking funds out of Covid funds. Also stated support for taking out of “Flower Fund” but expressed concern regarding hours worked and retirement fund, etc.
Councilor Sullivan: stated that order cannot be complied with.
Councilor Tallman: made motion to leave to withdraw, seconded by Councilor Leahy. All vote in favor.
Councilor Bartley: observed that we will communicate with mayor but must be prepared to not receive communication by December 1st. Suggested that City Council President put some pressure on issue of paying Ryan as well. Confirmed that email had been sent to Ryan, as well as to Tanya relative to year end grants.
Motion to adjourn made by Councilor Tallman, seconded by Councilor Leahy. All vote in favor.
Meeting adjourned at 8:02pm