For the latest information about  COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) Recovery, click here to visit our dedicated page.

Click here to sign up for city emergency alerts - including community event alerts, Fire Department notifications, law enforcement alerts, generation information alerts, and public works notifications

Finance Committee Meeting June 7, 2021

Jun 7 2021

6:30 pm Remote by Zoom

,

City Council

Holyoke Massachusetts

 

Notice of Committee Meeting

There will be a regular meeting of the committee on

Finance

Meeting to take place remotely on Zoom Meetings on Monday 6-7-21 at 6:30 PM

Per order of the Chair: Joe McGiverin

*** Meeting will take place remotely and can be accessed via www.zoom.us

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84717579709?pwd=bmlCMFZFTDVxK0pqRzFFZGtEaUFyQT09

Meeting ID: 847 1757 9709 Meeting Passcode: 293829 or by call in at 1 (646) 558-8656 with same Meeting ID and Passcode. ***

 

Agenda:

Item 1: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- that there be and is hereby appropriated by transfer in the fiscal year 2021, TWO HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND AND 00/100 Dollars ($250,000) as follows:

FROM:

13002-57000 PUBLIC SCHOOLS - OTHER EXPENSES $250,000

TOTAL: $250,000

TO:

19141-51999 HEALTH INSURANCE $250,000

TOTAL: $250,000

 

Item 2: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- that in accordance with M.G.L. Chapter 44 Sec. 53A, the City Council hereby accepts the provisions of the "CORONAVIRUS LOCAL FISCAL RECOVERY FUNDS" grant and authorizes the establishment of a Fund or other method appropriate for the accounting of the receipts and expenditures of all resources associated with the administration of said grant.

 

Item 3: 6-1-21 MCGEE -- Order that the acting mayor consider the using ARP act funds towards the Holyoke Row proposal, see attached proposal

 

Item 4: 4-6-21 MCGEE -- Order to invite in the auditor to discuss and update the council on the rules associated with the ARP Act - auditor to also provide council with update as they become available. Refer to finance.
*Tabled 4-15-21, 5-10-21, 5-27-21

 

Item 5: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- that in accordance with M.G.L. Chapter 44 Sec. 53A, the City Council hereby accepts the provisions of the "FY2020 COMMONWEALTH SECURITY TRUST FUND GRANT, $20,000, NO MATCH, " grant and authorizes the establishment of a Fund or other method appropriate for the accounting of the receipts and expenditures of all resources associated with the administration of said grant.

 

Item 6: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- that there be and is hereby appropriated by transfer in the fiscal year 2021, ONE HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS AND 00/100 Dollars ($150.00) as follows:

FROM:

11712-53100 CONSERVATION RESTRICTION COSTS $150.00

TOTAL: $150.00

TO:

XXXXX-XXXXX DCR URBAN FORESTRY CHALLENGE $150.00

TOTAL: $150.00

 

Item 7: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- Ordered, that in accordance with M.G.L. Chapter 44 Sec. 53A, the City Council accept the provisions of the “DCR URBAN FORESTRY CHALLENGE GRANT, $7,000, IN KIN MATCH $4,846, CASH MATCH $150,” grant and authorizes the establishment of a Fund or other method appropriate for the accounting of the receipts and expenditures of all resources associated with the administration of said grant.

 

Item 8: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- that there be and is hereby appropriated by transfer in the fiscal year 2021, FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS AND 00/100 Dollars ($50,000) as follows:

FROM:

14251-51105 POWER SHOVEL OPERATOR $50,000

TOTAL: $50,000

TO:

19412-57630 CLAIMS & DAMAGES $50,000

TOTAL: $50,000

 

Item 9: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- that there be and is hereby appropriated by transfer in the fiscal year 2021, THREE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY THREE AND 00/100 Dollars ($3,843.00) as follows:

FROM:

11211-51103 PAY-MAYOR’S AIDE $3,843.00

TOTAL: $3,843.00

TO:

11521-51101 PAY-PERSONNEL ADMINISTRATOR $3,843.00

TOTAL: $3,843.00

 

Item 10: 3-2-21 MURPHY -- Ordered, that as the city considers purchasing any replacement vehicles it reach out to the state to see if the city could be eligible for significant rebates off the purchase price of electric vehicles.  The MOR-EV program offers rebates to private as well as public entities for purchasing electric vehicles now including trucks.
In addition, that the city look into the Massachusetts Green Communities grant program which provides funding to assist with the installation of EV charging infrastructure.
*Tabled 5-10-21

 

Item 11: 6-1-21 MURPHY -- Ordered, that the finance committee meet with the auditor and the director of planning and development to discuss the potential problems and benefits of the community host agreements.

 

Administrative Assistant: Jeffery Anderson-Burgos

The listing of matters are those reasonably anticipated by the chair which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed and other items may also be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law. Also one or two items may require the committee to enter into executive session at this meeting. Agenda subject to change up to two business days (48 hours) prior to posted meeting time.

Finance Committee

June 7, 2021

 

Members present: Chairman Joseph McGiverin, Vice Chairman Peter Tallman, David Bartley, Michael Sullivan

Other councilors present: Terence Murphy, Howard Greaney, Jr, Rebecca Lisi

Vice Chairman Tallman called the meeting to order at 6:33 PM.

 

Councilor Tallman stated that Chairman McGiverin had been at another meeting and was expected to arrive shortly.

Councilor Bartley made a motion to remove item 1 from the table. Councilor Tallman seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 1: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- that there be and is hereby appropriated by transfer in the fiscal year 2021, TWO HUNDRED FIFTY THOUSAND AND 00/100 Dollars ($250,000) as follows:

FROM:

13002-57000 PUBLIC SCHOOLS - OTHER EXPENSES $250,000

TOTAL: $250,000

TO:

19141-51999 HEALTH INSURANCE $250,000

TOTAL: $250,000

--->      Approved 3-0

DISCUSSION:

Anthony Soto, HPS Superintendent, stated that there had been a discussion in December to identify transportation savings to transfer to the city. He then stated that $2 million had been transferred out of the transportation budget at the time. He added that the current transfer resulted from monitoring the budget for additional savings due to reduced costs because of shutdowns. He stated that the receiving account was identified by the city.

Councilor Murphy expressed that they would be seeking Council approval for a transportation contract extension to avoid going out to bid. He noted that other communities that had gone out to bid had paid 8-12% more than the previous year. He stated that renewing would result of an increase of 2-4%.

A. Soto stated that in communicating with school CFO’s across the state, he learned it was a bad year to go out to bid due to companies taking a large hit during the pandemic. He clarified that they bid for a three year contract and would be seeking an extension of two additional years. He reiterated that many transportation companies lost a lot of revenue, adding that their prices would reflect that. He stated that the pricing was based on 180 days of school with a certain number of routes and buses. He noted that they had not held school for 180 days, with many days not fully in person. He stated that negotiating through the contract extension would save the city at least a half million dollars, likely much more. He stated that there would be more opportunity for competition in two years.

Councilor Sullivan asked how much remained in the transportation budget following the previous $2 million transfer as well as the current proposal of $250,000.

A. Soto stated that the budget would normally be around $8 million, adding that around $5.7 million remained. He clarified that the figure was the total appropriation to pay transportation, not what was in the account at the time.

Councilor Sullivan asked if unpaid invoices remained.

A. Soto stated that bills had been paid through at least March, adding that a few weeks remained in the school year.

Councilor Sullivan asked if there would be several million dollars left unspent from the fiscal year.

A. Soto clarified that there would not be, noting that $5.7 million was the total available for the entire year.

Councilor Sullivan asked how much would remain in the account after the $250,000.

A. Soto stated that he would need to research that figure and provide an answer later.

Councilor Greaney asked if there would be a legal issue with not going out to bid.

A. Soto stated that he sought advice from the City Solicitor when they realized there would be an issue. He then stated that he was advised to ask the City Council to agree to a contract extension.

Councilor Greaney asked to clarify that the City Solicitor did not see a legal issue. He then suggested that when a contract ends, there would be a requirement for the city to go out to bid.

Councilor Murphy noted that the contract would end on July 1st, adding that there would likely be an item on the June 15th agenda to extend the contract.

A. Soto noted he brought it up months back with the Auditor and Solicitor, adding that departmental transitions created delays in bringing it before the City Council.

Councilor Greaney clarified that he would support a move to save money, adding that his intent was to assure there would be no legal issues.

Councilor Tallman asked the City Auditor to clarify the need for $250,000 in the health insurance account.

Tanya Wdowiak stated that projections for June suggested the account would be around $225,000 short.

Councilor Tallman asked if the transfer would cover the account through the end of the fiscal year.

T. Wdowiak confirmed that it would.

Councilor Tallman asked if any remaining funds would go into the general fund or back to the School Department.

T. Wdowiak stated it would go into the general fund cash at the end of the year.

Chairman McGiverin asked if there would be a concern with leaving the remaining funds to free cash, noting the deficit of the last few years.

T. Wdowiak suggested that it could remain with the School Department budget to hold over for the next year.

Chairman McGiverin stated they would have to encumber it as that they a part of free cash calculations as well.

T. Wdowiak clarified that the School Department do encumber their cash.

Chairman McGiverin asked if these funds for health insurance can be encumbered, or if they could be encumbered for the following year’s bus contract.

T. Wdowiak stated either could be done, adding that at least $225,000 would be needed for health insurance costs. She added that it could be done with this transfer or would have to be brought forward to FY ’22 as a previous year’s invoice.

A. Soto stated that the transportation budget is not part of net school spending, adding that he would not seek to encumber the funds. He then stated that the funds would belong to the city unless the city was willing to fund the department above net school spending so that it could be used for other purposes. He noted that the department is funded at the minimum every year. He then stated that he would be open to giving any savings back to the city to address other issues.

Chairman McGiverin asked if Covid had an impact on net school spending.

A. Soto stated that it had, adding that he was working with the Auditor to reconcile issues. He stated that because they are funded at the minimum, any surplus does get encumbered to meet the net school spending requirement.

Chairman McGiverin asked if grants the department received had been managed to avoid deficits being flagged by the outside auditor.

A. Soto expressed an expectation that there would not be any deficits, adding that he would work with the City Auditor to resolve any deficits.

Chairman McGiverin noted that there would be a grace period after June 30th to make corrections on grant deficits.

A. Soto stated that their grants are reimbursable. He then suggested that there should not be any deficits. He then stated that grants could be recorded wrong, noting that their budget is on two different munis systems.

Chairman McGiverin noted that deficits had been cited in the school budget the previous year.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to approve the transfer. Chairman McGiverin seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(25:20)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to remove item 2 from the table. Councilor Sullivan seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 2: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- that in accordance with M.G.L. Chapter 44 Sec. 53A, the City Council hereby accepts the provisions of the "CORONAVIRUS LOCAL FISCAL RECOVERY FUNDS" grant and authorizes the establishment of a Fund or other method appropriate for the accounting of the receipts and expenditures of all resources associated with the administration of said grant.

--->      Approved 4-0

DISCUSSION:

Councilor Murphy stated that Alicia Zoeller from the Office of Community Development would take the lead in programming, adding that City Auditor Tanya Wdowiak and Treasurer Kate Jackowski would take the lead in terms of financial recording and auditing. He then stated that there was a potential of using some of the funds for lost revenue to be appropriated into the general fund. He noted that the process for appropriating ARPA funds would be the same as for community development funds.

Chairman McGiverin asked how much money the would be available through this grant.

Councilor Murphy stated that it would be $14.9 million this year as well as another $14.9 the following year.

Chairman McGiverin asked to clarify if this was the funds through the American Recovery Plan Act.

T. Wdowiak confirmed that it was, noting that it was labeled differently when guidance was sent.

Chairman McGiverin asked where the guidance was.

T. Wdowiak stated that the guidance did not specify how to appropriate the funds.

Chairman McGiverin asked why there would be a vote without that information.

T. Wdowiak clarified that the guidance states it must be appropriated into its own special revenue fund for the accounting of receipts and expenses. She then stated that there was a process in place for programming, adding that the process had not been specified.

Chairman McGiverin asked if the City Council would be asked how the funds would be appropriated.

Councilor Murphy stated they had been told by the federal government that the funds should be handled in the same way as community development funds, with the exception of lost revenue. He stated that the Council would be involved in that process.

Chairman McGiverin asked if the federal government mandated that it be done that way.

Councilor Murphy confirmed that they had.

Chairman McGiverin asked to see that in writing. He then noted that the proposed budget for the coming year had a deficit of over $3 million for the City Council to rectify through cuts. He then asked if lost revenue calculations could be used to make up some of that deficit.

Councilor Murphy stated that it could not. He stated that lost revenue funds would go back to the fiscal year that ended in June 2019. He added that a comparison would be made as of December 31, 2020 to calculate lost revenue, adding that a calculation would take place for four years to calculate additional lost revenue for reimbursement.

Chairman McGiverin stated that lost revenue had been obvious in looking at the tax recap sheet.

Councilor Murphy clarified that a specific calculation has to be done to determine the amount.

Chairman McGiverin asked if work was being done to get the calculation.

Councilor Murphy confirmed that it was.

Chairman McGiverin asked if they could wait to vote on the grant until the calculation was complete.

Councilor Murphy stated that the vote on the grant would allow the city to receive the funds into an account.

Chairman McGiverin noted that with block grant votes, there are public hearings as well as a review by the City Council.

Councilor Murphy stated that would happen with the ARPA funds.

Chairman McGiverin suggested tabling the order until that happens.

Councilor Murphy stated that the city could then have to wait to receive the funds.

Chairman McGiverin suggested that voting on the order would take the City Council out of the process. He then asked when the City Council would provide its input.

Councilor Murphy stated that there would be a review from the Citizens Advisory Committee, followed by a hearing with the Development and Governmental Relations Committee and a final vote of the City Council.

Chairman McGiverin expressed concern with voting to accept the funds with a promise that the process would play out as explained.

Councilor Murphy confirmed that this would be the process. He then stated that with acceptance of the funds, they would be deposited into an interest bearing account. He noted that a stabilization account with $15 million recently earned $1.1 million in interest over a year and a half, adding that these funds could earn around $150,000 in a month or two.

Chairman McGiverin asked if the interest would be added to the general fund.

Councilor Murphy stated that there had been no criteria suggesting the interest must be used under the recovery act. He stated that the request was to accept the funds from the treasury into an account the city controls.

Chairman McGiverin asked when the account would be established if the City Council voted to accept the funds on June 15th.

T. Wdowiak stated it would be in the fund for this fiscal year.

Chairman McGiverin asked if interest earned on the funds in the current month would go into the general fund for the current fiscal year.

T. Wdowiak stated that she was unsure if interest would go into the general fund or into the fund that it comes from. She noted that interest from stabilization funds go back into the same fund.

Chairman McGiverin noted the language in the order was standard language, adding that Councilor Murphy’s description of the process appeared to be in reverse of the standard process. He then asked if there could be new language that specifies the process as had been described.

T. Wdowiak stated they could not bypass state rules.

Chairman McGiverin noted there were not state rules available other being told that it would be a block grant process.

T. Wdowiak stated that it the rule stated it would follow a block grant process, there would not be a need to change anything.

Chairman McGiverin suggested there would be a need, noting that the City Council usually votes on accepting a grant after the hearings and votes on the proposals.

Councilor Murphy stated that Community Development solicits proposals long before City Council provides input in the block grant processes.

Chairman McGiverin reiterated that votes to accept funds for block grants happens after hearings, committee recommendations, and the City Council vote.

Councilor Murphy conceded that was true, adding that the money was going to be accepted.

Chairman McGiverin suggested that there would be a new mayor when the process starts.

Councilor Murphy clarified that the schedule would seek to award the funds in August in order for them to be put into operation in September.

Chairman McGiverin asked when the Council would weigh in.

Councilor Murphy stated the goal would be July and August.

Chairman McGiverin asked if the City Council President was aware of that.

Councilor Murphy stated that the schedule had been published.

Councilor Lisi suggested that unless the fund was created, the city would not be in compliance for any appropriations or withdrawals from the fund. She then stated she fully supported an open process, adding that the City Council should be able to make a lot of decisions about how to appropriate the funds. She emphasized the importance of soliciting a broad set of applications, given the amount of money and the timeline to spend the funds.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to accept the provisions of the grant. Councilor Bartley seconded the motion.

Chairman McGiverin stated that in accepting the grant, the city would receive $14.9 million in the first year as well as in the second year to be spent with the approval of the Treasurer and the Mayor.

Councilor Tallman added that it would be with the City Council’s input.

Chairman McGiverin clarified that was not what was being voted on.

All members voted in favor.

 

(45:55)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to remove item 3 from the table. Councilor Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 3: 6-1-21 MCGEE -- Order that the acting mayor consider the using ARP act funds towards the Holyoke Row proposal, see attached proposal

--->      Complied with 4-0.

DISCUSSION:

Admin Asst Anderson-Burgos stated that an invite was sent to a representative from Holyoke Rows.

Councilor Murphy stated that Holyoke Rows was working with OCD to put together a proposal.

Councilor Tallman made a motion that the item had been complied with. Councilor Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(47:05)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to remove item 4 from the table. Councilor Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 4: 4-6-21 MCGEE -- Order to invite in the auditor to discuss and update the council on the rules associated with the ARP Act - auditor to also provide council with update as they become available. Refer to finance.
*Tabled 4-15-21, 5-10-21, 5-27-21

--->      Complied with 4-0.

DISCUSSION:

Chairman McGiverin asked if new information had come from the federal government.

Councilor Tallman stated that a few emails had been received.

T. Wdowiak stated that she forwarded guidance on funding, revenue replacement information, and calculations.

Councilor Bartley made a motion that the order had been complied with. Councilor Tallman seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(48:35)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to remove item 5 from the table. Councilor Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 5: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- that in accordance with M.G.L. Chapter 44 Sec. 53A, the City Council hereby accepts the provisions of the "FY2020 COMMONWEALTH SECURITY TRUST FUND GRANT, $20,000, NO MATCH, " grant and authorizes the establishment of a Fund or other method appropriate for the accounting of the receipts and expenditures of all resources associated with the administration of said grant.

--->      Approved 4-0

DISCUSSION:

Chairman McGiverin recognized Lt. John Hart and Cpt. David Pratt from the Police Department.

Lt. Hart stated that it was an equipment grant form the state to purchase Taser lockers, equipment such as holsters, cartridges for training, as well as cameras for addressing traffic and other public safety and gang-related issues. He specified that the locker equipment would cost $2,200, the Taser equipment would cost $9,550, and the cameras would be $8,200.

Councilor Tallman asked when the grant would begin and when the funds would have to be spent by.

Lt. Hart stated it would start at approval as a contract was already signed. He then expressed a hope that the equipment would be received within six months.

Councilor Tallman asked how the cameras would work and if they would be moved around the city.

Cpt. Pratt stated that gang and drug activity moves around, adding that the current city cameras do not cover those areas. He stated this would allow them to cover currently uncovered areas or add new angles to current locations. He stated they would also be used for traffic purposes such as speeding.

Councilor Tallman asked if they could be moved when councilors receive complaints about speeding in certain areas.

Cpt. Pratt stated they would work in conjunction with the trailers they have to enhance their enforcement.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to accept the provisions of the grant. Councilor Sullivan seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(53:35)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to remove item 6 from the table. Councilor Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 6: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- that there be and is hereby appropriated by transfer in the fiscal year 2021, ONE HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS AND 00/100 Dollars ($150.00) as follows:

FROM:

11712-53100 CONSERVATION RESTRICTION COSTS $150.00

TOTAL: $150.00

TO:

XXXXX-XXXXX DCR URBAN FORESTRY CHALLENGE $150.00

TOTAL: $150.00

--->      Approved 4-0.

DISCUSSION:

Chairman McGiverin recognized Yoni Glogower from the Conservation and Sustainability Department.

Y. Glogower stated that the item went with item 7.

Chairman McGiverin asked why there was a surplus in the sending account and what it would be used for in the receiving account.

Y. Glogower stated that the account is used for management of parcels they own for conservation restrictions throughout the city. He stated they were able to handle improvements with volunteer improvement, adding that there was less activity in the current year due to Covid. He then stated that the amount would be for the matching funds requirement of the grant.

Chairman McGiverin asked if the department was covered through the end of the year.

Y. Glogower confirmed that they were.

Councilor Bartley made a motion to approve the transfer. Chairman McGiverin seconded the motion All members voted in favor.

 

(55:40)

Councilor Bartley made a motion to remove item 7 from the table. Chairman McGiverin seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 7: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- Ordered, that in accordance with M.G.L. Chapter 44 Sec. 53A, the City Council accept the provisions of the “DCR URBAN FORESTRY CHALLENGE GRANT, $7,000, IN KIN MATCH $4,846, CASH MATCH $150,” grant and authorizes the establishment of a Fund or other method appropriate for the accounting of the receipts and expenditures of all resources associated with the administration of said grant.

--->      Approved 4-0.

DISCUSSION:

Y. Glogower stated that the grant would provide funding for tree planting events, planning tree inventories, and maintenance of heritage trees. He then stated that the idea came out of discussions with DPW on moving trees form the municipal nursery. He stated the goal would be to have a planting event at Kennedy Park. He specified that the funds would go to hiring a contractor to move some of the largest trees to be planting, put together a planting plan, as well as leading planting events at community events. He stated there was likely to be an Arbor Day event in April 2022. He stated the in kind match was staff time ands volunteer labor.

Chairman McGiverin asked how many trees would be moved and how many remained in the nursery.

Y. Glogower stated that was about 100 trees in the nursery, with a plan to move 34 trees being planted as part of this plan.

Chairman McGiverin noted that the park had been named after a councilor, Chick Kennedy, adding that the Kennedy family would be proud of the trees being planted there.

Councilor Tallman clarified that the park had been named after Edward Kennedy who had been a paratrooper and died in World War 2, noting there was a stone commemorating him at the park. He then emphasized the importance of assuring the trees didn’t impact baseball and soccer games at the park, adding that the trees would bring beneficial shaded spaces to the area.

Chairman McGiverin noted that when the memorial was dedicated, it had been a hot day.

Councilor Murphy commended Mr. Glogower for the work he has done in the department.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to accept the provisions of the grant. Councilor Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(1:01:40)

Councilor Bartley made a motion to suspend the necessary rules to remove item 9 from the table out of order. Councilor Tallman seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 9: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- that there be and is hereby appropriated by transfer in the fiscal year 2021, THREE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED FORTY THREE AND 00/100 Dollars ($3,843.00) as follows:

FROM:

11211-51103 PAY-MAYOR’S AIDE $3,843.00

TOTAL: $3,843.00

TO:

11521-51101 PAY-PERSONNEL ADMINISTRATOR $3,843.00

TOTAL: $3,843.00

--->      Approved 4-0.

DISCUSSION:

Councilor Murphy stated that the transfer would be to pay the Personnel Director. He stated that the surplus had been due to a recent opening in the Mayor’s office.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to approve the transfer. Chairman McGiverin seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(1:03:45)

Councilor Bartley made a motion to remove item 8 from the table. Councilor Tallman seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 8: 6-1-21 MCGIVERIN -- that there be and is hereby appropriated by transfer in the fiscal year 2021, FIFTY THOUSAND DOLLARS AND 00/100 Dollars ($50,000) as follows:

FROM:

14251-51105 POWER SHOVEL OPERATOR $50,000

TOTAL: $50,000

TO:

19412-57630 CLAIMS & DAMAGES $50,000

TOTAL: $50,000

--->      Approved 4-0.

DISCUSSION:

Chairman McGiverin recognized DPW Director, Michael McManus.

M. McManus stated that the claims and damages portion would be the purview of the Law Department, adding that it would pay the settlement with a former DPW employee.

Chairman McGiverin asked why there was a surplus.

M. McManus stated that there were vacant positions for a period of time, or people out on worker’s comp who get paid out of a separate line item.

Chairman McGiverin asked if he could get into details of settlement without violating confidentiality.

M. McManus stated that he was unsure.

Chairman McGiverin asked if $50,000 was the settlement.

M. McManus confirmed that it was.

Chairman McGiverin asked Councilor Murphy if it had been under his watch as Acting Mayor.

Councilor Murphy confirmed that it was. He then confirmed it was the final settlement.

Chairman McGiverin noted that only the mayor can sign off on a final settlement.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to approve the transfer. Councilor Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(1:06:35)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to remove item 10 from the table. Chairman McGiverin seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 10: 3-2-21 MURPHY -- Ordered, that as the city considers purchasing any replacement vehicles it reach out to the state to see if the city could be eligible for significant rebates off the purchase price of electric vehicles.  The MOR-EV program offers rebates to private as well as public entities for purchasing electric vehicles now including trucks.
In addition, that the city look into the Massachusetts Green Communities grant program which provides funding to assist with the installation of EV charging infrastructure.
*Tabled 5-10-21

--->      Laid on the table 4-0.

DISCUSSION:

Chairman McGiverin stated the item was being brought back up to see if there was an update.

Councilor Murphy stated that much of the state funding had run out, adding that new funding would be coming for the next year. He then stated that there would be businesses looking to get in on some of the grants to create charging stations. He stated that without effective charging stations, the rest would be moot. He suggested there could be charging stations where vehicles were currently being fueled up. He stated that standard stations take around 45 minutes to charge, adding that super chargers were closer to 20 minutes. He noted that as electric vehicles become more prevalent, he would want the city to be in a good position to get awarded more funds through green initiatives. He suggested the item remain to the table for future updates.

Councilor Bartley asked where resources would be coming from.

Councilor Murphy stated that they were looking at state funds utilizing multiple solutions and agencies for grant funding.

Councilor Bartley expressed a concern that the next mayor would not follow up on this. He asked what department head would take the lead on this.

Councilor Murphy stated it would be HG&E manager, Jim Lavelle, for the chargers and potentially for the electric vehicles. He then stated they would work with any departments that purchase vehicles. He reiterated that the first goal would need to get charging stations.

Councilor Bartley asked if Covid funds would be eligible.

Councilor Murphy stated that was one possibility they could look at.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to lay on the table. Councilor Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(1:14:05)

Councilor Tallman made a motion to remove item 11 from the table. Councilor Bartley seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 11: 6-1-21 MURPHY -- Ordered, that the finance committee meet with the auditor and the director of planning and development to discuss the potential problems and benefits of the community host agreements.

--->      Complied with 4-0.

DISCUSSION:

Chairman McGiverin recognized Planning and Economic Development Director, Aaron Vega.

Councilor Murphy stated that the order was filed to seek clarity on the potential of using community host agreement correctly as well as understanding what would be eligible for use of the funds. He also stated he had been asked if the benefit of hosting the industry outweigh any of the problems. He noted that host agreement had been challenged in other communities. He also stated that some smaller cannabis companies expressed that they believed they were at a disadvantage with companies in communities that withdrew their community host agreements.

A. Vega clarified that the city had not done anything that was incorrect with the agreements. He noted that the state allows municipalities to collect 3% impact fees from the sales of industry establishments. He noted that state guidelines on use had evolved over time. He observed that the earliest lawsuits were the result of companies claiming that the host agreements had been used for extortion, going above the 3%. He stated that the Holyoke decided to establish a 3% impact fee across the board to level the playing field. He then suggested that the fee could be reduced for social equity and economic empowerment license holders. He also stated that the current model for couriers had a .05 impact fee to avoid harming small businesses. He stated that the funds could be used for infrastructure in the IG district such as sidewalks, handicapped accessibility, and other improvement to benefit foot traffic. He also suggested as fund to allow people from Holyoke to enroll in the cannabis education programs at Holyoke Community College. He then suggested compensation or a position internally to support the industry and help people navigate getting into the industry. He noted that the Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) had been looking at updating guidelines and oversight they would have over host community agreement funds. He stated that the host community agreements have a five year timeline from the time they are signed, adding that the impact fee is not intended to be continued when the agreements are renewed.

Councilor Sullivan asked if the 3% impact fee ends automatically after five years.

A. Vega stated that was the intent but that the CCC would need to address it. He noted that GTI had been renewed with the 3% remaining intact. He noted that many manufacturing establishments had a different perspective than retail establishments. He suggested that thee may be more court cases challenging host community agreements with time. He added that in speaking with the CCC, they suggested conversations with the OPED Department as well as potentially a Council committee.

Councilor Bartley asked what the process should be for addressing how to use the funds.

A. Vega stated that the question on setting the stabilization fund up was more time sensitive than how to use the funds. He noted that the order to establish that fund would be discussed at an Ordinance Committee meeting the following night. He also suggested there could be differences set up between manufacturing licenses and retail licenses.

Councilor Bartley asked what the city had collected from the impact fees.

T. Wdowiak stated that $1.5 million had been collected in just the current fiscal year.

Councilor Bartley asked if it goes into the general fund and had been expensed.

T. Wdowiak stated that it had gone into the general fund to fund appropriations.

Councilor Murphy stated that he had been approached by businesses asking what impact they had on the community, specifically how the city would calculate their individual impact. He noted that some had suggested that their impact would be right around their businesses, adding that should be where the investment should take place. He suggested a need to be more specific on what the city would do with the funds. He also noted the impact on the city’s competitiveness. He also emphasized the importance of avoiding future rulings that funds had not been used properly.

Chairman McGiverin asked if the order had been complied with, noting that the Ordinance Committee would be addressing the establishment of a stabilization fund and recognizing that there may be future discussions on use of the funds.

A. Vega noted that one case in Haverhill had been dismissed with a judge ruling that the contract should be honored.

Councilor Murphy noted that Northampton had been eliminating or reducing their impact fee, motivating the need for a discussion here.

A. Vega stated there had been a general impact statement provided.

Councilor Sullivan suggested that competitiveness with local community may not be a major factor. He noted that 3% fee on a $40 would add up to $1.20, likely not leading someone to drive to another community. He suggested that term “impact fee” may overemphasize the notion of an impact, adding that many other industries are assessed a local tax.

Councilor Bartley made a motion that the order had been complied with. Councilor Tallman seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

Chairman McGiverin stated that with the end of the fiscal year approaching, any final transfer orders on the June 15th City Council agenda would need to be acted on that evening.

Councilor Tallman made a motion to adjourn. Chairman McGiverin seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Adjourned 8:11 PM.


Jeffery Anderson-Burgos
Administrative Assistant to the City Council

Holyoke City Hall
536 Dwight St, Room 10
Holyoke, MA 01040
Regular hours 8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
Meeting days 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Close window