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Ordinance Committee Meeting June 29, 2021

Jun 29 2021

6:30 pm City Hall Holyoke

536 Dwight St, Holyoke 01040

City Council

Holyoke Massachusetts

 

Notice of Committee Meeting

There will be a regular meeting of the committee on

Ordinance

 

On Tuesday, June 29, 2021 at 6:30 PM

Meeting to take place at

Holyoke City Hall, 536 Dwight St

and can be accessed remotely on Zoom Meetings

Per order of the Chair: Rebecca Lisi

*** Meeting can be accessed remotely via www.zoom.us

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86248957794?pwd=TUFXRUdYb3ZnZ3VUblIwTDdsU3NiUT09

Meeting ID: 862 4895 7794 Meeting Passcode: 120278 or by call in at 1 (646) 558-8656 with same Meeting ID and Passcode.  ***

 

Agenda:

Item 1: 4-6-21 MCGIVERIN -- That the City Council remove the Enterprise Fund status of the Waste Water Treatment Plant.
*Tabled 4-27-21, 5-11-21

Item 2: 5-18-21 VACON, BARTLEY, MCGIVERIN, LISI -- Ordered, that the setting of the sewer rate be returned from the City Council to the DPW Commission where it had been previously determined.

Item 3: 6-15-21 MURPHY -- Ordered that the city council raise the sewer fee to a minimum of $8.05 per 1000 gallons in order to make certain that the enterprise fund no longer operates with deficits, but also to plan for the additional needed improvements funded by debt service.

Item 4: 6-15-21 From Michael P. McManus, Superintendent Department of Public Works, letter re: Sewer Rate Recommendation.

Item 5: 8-4-20 ANDERSON-BURGOS -- Ordered, that the language in the Holyoke municipal code, Sec 14-5, (a),(1), a, be removed from the code. The language of this code reads as: "A dog may be off restraint if under adequate voice control of a person, and that person has a leash in their possession. A dog which does not respond to commands of the person in control of such animal is not under restraint." This language, especially "if under adequate voice control," is overly subjective and does nothing to protect another person or animal from injury should a dog owner not maintain control of their dog.

Item 6: 2-18-20 TALLMAN -- Ordered, that Ordered That Ordinance Section 12-4 Flags of the City of Holyoke be amended to include the new regulations for flying the POW flag.

Item 7: 4-6-21 VACON -- Effective March 26, 2021, for the remainder of 2021 or sooner if allowed by the MA General Court, any Acting Mayor, if accepting the Mayor’s salary, shall be paid on a prorated basis if performing the duties part time

Item 8: 5-18-21 LEBRON-MARTINEZ -- Ordered, that That city council thru the appropriate committee consider a drop & pick up for 2 parking spots for the van that will pick & drop off the participants that attend the Vcare Adult at the addresses 200-210 High Street This program serve a population of 60 and older and is necessary to assure their safety. Enclosed letter of company request.
*Tabled 6-22-21

 

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.

Ordinance Committee

June 29, 2021

 

Members present: Chairwoman Rebecca Lisi, Vice Chairman Juan Anderson-Burgos, Terry Murphy

Other councilors present: Joe McGiverin, David Bartley

Chairwoman Lisi called the meeting to order at 6:34 PM

 

Chairwoman Lisi recognized Michael Bissonnette, recently hired as a new associate solicitor, was in attendance representing the Law Department. She also noted that Vacon and Hernandez were not in attendance as they had both planned to be away prior to the meeting being scheduled.

Councilor Anderson-Burgos made a motion to suspend the necessary rules to take up item 5 out of order. Councilor Murphy seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 5: 8-4-20 ANDERSON-BURGOS -- Ordered, that the language in the Holyoke municipal code, Sec 14-5, (a),(1), a, be removed from the code. The language of this code reads as: "A dog may be off restraint if under adequate voice control of a person, and that person has a leash in their possession. A dog which does not respond to commands of the person in control of such animal is not under restraint." This language, especially "if under adequate voice control," is overly subjective and does nothing to protect another person or animal from injury should a dog owner not maintain control of their dog.

---> Laid on the table and referred to the Law Department, 3-0.

DISCUSSION:

Councilor Anderson-Burgos stated there had been several incidents where another person was injured, as well as an incident when two dogs were in a fight where one died. He added this change would work to possibly eliminate interactions between humans and dogs or dog and dog.

Chairwoman Lisi noted that Board of Health Director Sean Gonsalves, as well as Animal Control Officer, Erick Velez, were in attendance. She then asked for their recommendations on language to address the issue.

S. Gonsalves stated that the easiest way to address it would be to remove the section of the ordinance allowing for voice control. He recalled there had been an exception considered in past discussion regarding animals in a dog park or extenuating circumstances. He noted there was already language in the next section of the ordinance allowing a dog to be off restraint if it is in a fenced in area or pen, adding that it cold be revised to include dog parks or public spaces that are fenced. He noted that the issue with the ordinance is that a dog may be under voice command until it isn’t, adding that many animals have not been causing problems prior to there being incidents.

E. Velez noted that state laws did not have much guidance on the issue other than language related to keeping dogs on a leash at highways rest areas, adding that they leave it to municipalities to regulate dogs. He expressed his support for the order, adding that it doesn’t make sense to leave it to individual animals that may or may not choose to listen. He recalled when the wording was set, there had been a good argument based on an owner who may play with their dog in a park. He then added that there had been many incidents since that time and noted the importance of understanding that when dogs don’t follow commands, the responsibility falls on the owner.

Chairwoman Lisi asked if there was ordinance language available.

E. Velez provided copies of the current ordinance.

Chairwoman Lisi suggested striking out Sec 14-5, (a),(1), a. She then asked about proposals to change section b.

S. Gonsalves suggested that b could be amended to include dog parks or other areas that are specifically created for dogs to be off leash such as businesses providing training for off leash dogs.

E. Velez stated the intent is not to require dogs be on leash in someone’s yard if it’s fenced in.

Chairwoman Lisi noted the language of section b states, “A dog may be off restraint if it is completely confined within a fenced in area or pen,” adding that the proposed amendments would be to add “dog park, or other dedicated space.” She noted that Community Field is a fenced in area and asked how a fenced in area would be delineated, such as a residential property.

E. Velez stated that Community Field would likely be an exception, noting that they have a fenced in dog park and anything outside of that would be considered loose.

Chairwoman Lisi asked about Rohan Park, noting that there are fences on all sides thee.

S. Gonsalves stated that changes to part b would be independent of part a. He added that the language could clearly delineated as anywhere intended for dogs to be off leash.

Atty Bissonnette suggested that the questions appeared to be based on the distinction between a public and private space, adding that clearly delineating space as canine friendly to make the language less subjective would be appropriate for any amendments.

Chairwoman Lisi asked if the proposed language, “a public area that is specifically fenced in for dogs,” would cover the purpose.

Atty Bissonnette stated that it would.

Councilor Murphy expressed that the agreed with the rationale. He then asked if the dog involved in an attack had been on its own property.

E. Velez stated it had been on its own property and entered the sidewalk when it attacked the other dog that had been on a leash.

Councilor Murphy recalled having an electric fence. He then asked if that would be considered under control.

E. Velez stated it could be considered fenced in, adding that it could be included in the ordinance language.

Councilor Murphy stated his intent was to clarify what is considered under restraint. He also noted that someone could have a large lot but a dog on their porch would be considered violating an ordinance.

E. Velez noted having received calls from people with fences asking how they could make their yard safer. He stated that he has provided guidance so that dogs are less likely to roam or escape.

S. Gonsalves suggested that fence could be defined more clearly, such as adding electric fence and stipulating height and fence material to clarify the kind of fence that would be effective for keeping animals in as opposed to those that are decorative. He added that sometimes when attacks happen, they can be unpredictable. He recalled that in the incident when the dog that was attacked died, the owner of the other dog took the dog out of Holyoke prior to a ruling to euthanize the animal.

Chairwoman Lisi noted that fenced in area was currently defined as “shall mean an area which is completely enclosed by a chain-link or similar fence, and is accessible by one or more sealable egresses, and which prevents an animal kept within from leaving the enclosed area,” and that electric could be added into the definition.

Councilor Bartley stated that he understood the intent of the order. He then asked if the city would have more or less liability with the way the language was at the time, as well as if the city removed the language. He then asked if the city would be regulating leashes on private property regardless of whether there is a fence. He also asked if there would be increased liability if the city failed to enforce such a regulation. He then stated that if there are ordinances, they should be proactive. He noted that in the incident described, a dog on private property entered a public way, adding that the ordinances could say “any animal in a public way or space shall be on a leash,” adding that exceptions could be delineated such as with a dog park. He then noted the importance of understanding the language in the context of the whole ordinance.

Councilor McGiverin expressed an understanding of the rationale. He then asked how many dogs were currently licensed in Holyoke.

E. Velez stated it was close to 4,000.

Councilor McGiverin asked how many incidents are reported each year.

E. Velez stated he handles around 30-40 a month, with a higher rate in the warmer months. He added this number did not include calls that are handled by TJ O’Connor Animal Control.

Councilor McGiverin asked if that was unrestrained, loose dogs.

E. Velez clarified they could be unrestrained, or incidents that happen in the homes.

Councilor McGiverin expressed recognition that laws are created to create safety, adding that laws often punish people doing the right thing. He noted speed limits are created knowing that people may drive above the speed limit. He asked how many people could be sent the wrong message by creating a law to protect against the 30 to 40 that are not restrained. He then asked about the potential reverse liability to the city if the ordinance is changed. He noted that when the ordinance language was changed, it was created to give flexibility to dog owners doing the right thing who may just be playing with their pet.

Atty Bissonnette noted the importance understanding civil liability, clarifying that while a dog owner would be liable if they cause harm to other, it would difficult to prove liability to the city. He then analogized the example of drunk driving laws, noting that if a driver caused harm by running a stop sign, a city could not be held liable simply because there is a law against drunk drivers. He added that in in terms of the ordinance, the committee could set any parameters they see as appropriate as well as adding any fines.

Chairwoman Lisi noted that with many amendments to consider, there would need to be a legal form drafted for the committee to consider.  She stated the intent to add electric to the definitions of fence, language clarifying that dogs can be off leash in a secure fenced in area, a pen, or a public area specifically dedicated for use by dogs, as well as clarification on the different legal liabilities for different versions.

Councilor Murphy stated that the committee could review it again once the legal draft is ready. He then stated he would be in support of the safety aspects, adding a need to assure that if someone is on their own property with their dog, there isn’t a violation if another dog enters your property and your dog defends you. He also stated that there would be no question of responsibility if a dog leaves property and causes an incident.

Councilor Murphy made a motion to table and refer the order to the Law Department. Councilor Anderson-Burgos seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

(34:40)

Councilor Anderson-Burgos made a motion to suspend the necessary rules to take up item 8 out of order. Chairwoman Lisi seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 8: 5-18-21 LEBRON-MARTINEZ -- Ordered, that That city council thru the appropriate committee consider a drop & pick up for 2 parking spots for the van that will pick & drop off the participants that attend the Vcare Adult at the addresses 200-210 High Street This program serve a population of 60 and older and is necessary to assure their safety. Enclosed letter of company request.
*Tabled 6-22-21

---> Laid on the table, 2-1.

DISCUSSION:

Chairwoman Lisi read the request letter into the record.
VCare Medical is located at 200-210 High St. In Holyoke, MA and occupies 10,000 sq ft on the first floor of the building. The premises is leased for 10 years.
VCare Medical is offering the list of medical services concentrating on elderly/disabled population.
The main entrance is located on a corner of Maple St. and High St.
Patients are getting transported in and out of the facility on the daily basis by VCare Medical Transportation. It’s critical for a safety reason for VCare Medical to pick up and drop off patients directly from the front entrance.
We will appreciate your assistance for letting VCare Medical to use 2 metered parking spots for pick-up and drop-off area in front of the main entrance.
We will appreciate your attention to this matter ASAP.
Thank you in advance. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions at 857-256-4889.
Sincerely,
Elena Eaton,
Program Director

Councilor Lebron-Martinez stated her intent to advocate for the request. She noted that Olga Rod was in attendance to answer and questions.

Councilor Anderson-Burgos made a motion to suspend the necessary rules to allow a member of the public to address the committee. Councilor Murphy seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Olga Rod, 16 King St, Wayland, stated she was the owner of the business. She then stated that the business is open Monday through Friday. She stated that many of the patients arrive in wheelchairs or walkers and that it is less problematic for them to have access through the main entrance as opposed to going through the back, adding that it makes it easier for the staff to help the patients. She added that they are open in the winter, making it more difficult to assist them at the back. She expressed a need to prevent falls and injuries.

Councilor Murphy asked how many clients they work with per day.

O. Rod stated that the capacity is 72 clients, adding that they have up to 44 daily at the time. She then stated that the patients arrive Monday through Friday by 9 AM and then leave after 2:30 PM.

Councilor Murphy asked if they arrive by a special van.

O. Rod stated they have two special, handicap accessible vans, adding that the drivers pick up the patients at their houses. She then stated that a few drive when they can, but that most are picked up.

Councilor Murphy asked if some clients arrive in wheelchairs.

O. Rod stated that the average age was between 60 and 75, with a few that are younger. She then stated that the request was not just for drop-offs but for ambulance access. She stated that the back access was not reliable for ambulances, adding that the vehicles for the Social Security office complicate parking and access.

Councilor Murphy asked if two parking spots in the lot on the north side of the building could be used.

O. Rod stated they tried that but that there was not enough space for two vans, adding that a small hill made it more difficult during the winter.

Councilor McGiverin recognized the value of the service provided by the business. He then noted that the area has many restaurants and other businesses that depend upon on street parking, adding that the parking deck was partly intended to assure that those who own businesses and work downtown have a place to park. He suggested the parking lot at the building could be redesigned for the needs of the business. He then recalled work to address parking in the area, noting that many blocks have a designated drop-off area. He then suggested that the drop-off area on this block could be moved to accommodate their needs. He noted that according to state law, you cannot create a place where a van can have its own parking spot on a public road. He then asked how often the vans are there.

O. Rod stated they drop patients off between 8:30 and 9:30 AM and then pick them up around 2:00 PM, adding that everyone is gone by 3:00 PM. She expressed understanding that area businesses need available parking. She then stated that the patients come from Holyoke, many from Holyoke Health Center, adding that they are serving Holyoke by serving the patients. She then clarified that parking further away may not be an issue for the vans but would be an issue for the patients that cannot walk that far. She noted that they spoke with the owners of the building, adding that they have other tenants to think about. She then noted the importance of maintaining a good working relationship with other tenants in the building.

Councilor McGiverin observed that parking meters have a maximum of two hours to maintain turnover of people patronizing downtown businesses. He recognized the need for safe parking for their patients, adding that drop-offs cannot be designated for every business or there would be nothing else. He then asked for clarification that nobody would be using the spots between drop-off and pickup.

O. Rod stated they could compromise by only requesting use of the spots for those times.

Councilor McGiverin noted that drop-off locations can only be used for dropping off and then a vehicle must move according to state law.

Chairwoman Lisi noted the need to follow meeting rules that questions be addressed through the Chair as opposed to a back and forth dialogue. She then noted that the city has many spots throughout the city restricted for drop-off during specific hours, adding that such a restriction could be used at this location, limiting the loss of available metered parking.

Councilor McGiverin stated his intent to seek compromise while maintaining a perspective of the big picture.

Councilor Bartley asked when their lease started.

O. Rod stated it had been the previous year.

Councilor Bartley suggested they must have looked at the space when deciding to lease it. He then asked about the agency’s budget, how many locations they have, and how many employees they employed.

O. Rod stated they had one location with eight employees each day, including the drivers, adding that they all park in the garage.

Councilor Bartley asked what the agency’s budget was, noting that they likely receive government reimbursements.

O. Rod stated that a majority of the patients receive MassHealth, with reimbursements for clinical services as well as for transportation.

Councilor Bartley noted that while the vulnerable population being served deserves any help they need, the request would impact the availability of parking for the other businesses on the street by removing public parking for a private purpose. He noted that his role would be to look at the larger picture by considering the needs of the other businesses. He then suggested the agency could consider paying for the use of the spots during business hours.

O. Rod stated they had not expected to be granted free parking, adding that their request was made in order to understand what the options would be.

Chairwoman Lisi reiterated that the city had a precedent for creating exceptions for pick up and drop off parking. She then suggested creating a no parking zone between 8:30-9:30 AM and 2:30-3:30 PM on weekdays for one space.

O. Rod stated that could work.

Councilor Lebron-Martinez stated that the business had done the right thing in reaching out to a councilor and asking that an order be filed. She then noted that a recent request had been accommodated at a school to allow for safer dropping off and picking up of students. She asked if the other businesses that received similar exceptions had also been asked to pay for use of the spots.

Councilor Anderson-Burgos made a motion to approve a no parking zone between 8:30-9:30 AM and 2:30-3:30 PM, Monday through Friday for one spot. Chairwoman Lisi seconded the motion.

With a 2-1 vote, Chairwoman Lisi initially declared the vote had failed.

Councilor Murphy made a motion to table, noting his intent to look at the other locations with similar exceptions.

Councilor Bartley made a point of order, noting that there was not yet measurements, legal language, or analysis.

Chairwoman Lisi clarified that the motion had failed, adding that the motion was to create legal language. She then stated her understanding that a 2-1 vote failed on a three person committee.

Councilor Bartley clarified that according to the rules of committees, a majority of those present was required.

Chairwoman Lisi clarified that the motion had carried. She then noted that the motion to pass included an intent to seek measurements from the Engineer and to have legal language drafted that the committee could review in August.

Councilor Bartley suggested that there be a motion to reconsider in order to table the matter, receive measurements, get legal language, and find out if it would be legal to pull meters from the street.

Chairwoman Lisi clarified there was no intent to pull meters. She then noted that reconsidering had been a valid point.

Councilor Anderson-Burgos made a motion to reconsider. Lis seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Councilor McGiverin suggested that the Engineer be asked if the space would need to be larger for the vans to pick up and drop off the patients.

Chairwoman Lisi stated the question would be forwarded to the Engineer.

Councilor Bartley offered an apology for raising his voice. He then suggested seeking a legal opinion on whether a metered spot can be restricted during specific hours. He also suggested seeking a list of other locations with similar exceptions in order to compare the situations.

Councilor Anderson-Burgos made a motion to draft the order into legal form a one space zone for no parking for pick up and drop off purposes between 8:30-9:30 AM and 2:30-3:30 PM, Monday through Friday, that the Engineer provide measurements for a draft, and that the Law Department provide feedback on if a metered spot can be restricted during specific hours. Chairwoman Lisi seconded the motion. Motion passed 2-1.

 

(1:15:50)

Councilor Anderson-Burgos made a motion to suspend the necessary rules to take items 1 through 4 off the table as a package. Councilor Murphy seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 1: 4-6-21 MCGIVERIN -- That the City Council remove the Enterprise Fund status of the Waste Water Treatment Plant.
*Tabled 4-27-21, 5-11-21

---> Laid on the table, 3-0.

DISCUSSION:

Councilor McGiverin stated that the intent of the order would be moot in light of an order to return the role of setting the rate to the DPW Commission, adding that the City Council currently did not have control over their budget.

Councilor Murphy stated that he worked with the DPW Director and the City Auditor to propose a rate that would eliminate the sewer fund deficit as well as allow for planning of capital improvements. He asked a clarifying question, that around $125,000 is lost for every month without a rate increase to $8.05.

Mike McManus stated that had been correct.

Councilor Murphy suggested it would be imperative to act in order to pass the increase at the August 3rd meeting to offset the deficit in order for the next mayor to have a better handle on preparing a budget for fiscal year ’23. He then suggested it would be a reasonable rate, noting that the average collection rate is about 93% on time. He then noted that he looked at a lower proposed rate but had to consider long term capital expenses.

Chairwoman Lisi expressed support for returning the role of setting the rate to the DPW Commission, noting that the board’s focus would allow them to keep up to date with the needs of the enterprise fund and the needs of the department. She ask for a review of the process for setting the rate.

M. McManus stated that the rate of $8.05 was the result of looking at the next fiscal year’s expenses such as contracts, debt service, and other expenses. He noted that FY ’22 expenses added up to around $9.05 million. He then stated that the revenue comes from the sewer rate, industrial billing, and nominal permit fees, adding that the sewer rate makes up a large majority of the revenue. He then stated that the sewer usage ranges between 1.11 and 1.16 bullion gallons per year. He noted the calculations would require a rate of $7.77 to break even, adding that budgeting higher on the rate would allow the department to operate in times when collections are lower than normal. He then noted that with an enterprise fund, the department can bank reserves to pay for capital projects without going into debt service.

Chairwoman Lisi noted that a letter with an explanation of the calculations could be circulated to anyone seeking it.

M. McManus stated that with the rate set by the City Council, any change to the rate would have to come after a public hearing held by the City Council according to the ordinances.

Chairwoman Lisi asked when the current rate had been passed.

M. McManus stated it had been 2018.

Chairwoman Lisi noted that there had been revenue projections at the time. She then asked how accurate those projections had been.

M. McManus stated that a rate of $7.25 had been estimated as the rate they would break even.

Chairwoman Lisi asked for where they were currently at.

M. McManus stated that they were recommending $8.05 in order to build a contingency. He then noted that they may have neglected to include the 93% collection in their past estimates. He then stated that with 100% collection rate and no planned reserves, the estimated rate would be $7.23.

Councilor Murphy noted that in looking at the five year expenses projection, there would be increases of around $550,000. He then stated that crating a reserve would make sense to avoid needing to constantly alter the rate. He then asked if it needed to be only one public hearing, and if it could be done in the Ordinance Committee.

M. McManus stated that the ordinance appeared to state that.

Councilor Murphy stated that he sought guidance from bond counsel to potentially bond for lowering the tax rate to avoid increasing taxes and the sewer rate in the same year, adding that it would improve the city’s bond rating.

Councilor Bartley noted that raising the rate from $6.65 to $8.05 would be an unreasonable 20% increase in one year, especially coming out of a pandemic and budgets still hurting. He suggested that an increase should be staggered. He then noted that with more development in the IG zone, new growth should lead to more ratepayers. He then expressed a need for more detail on the 93% collection rate, specifically on who the 7% are. He suggested a communication should be provided to publicize nonpayers in an effort to get as close to 100% as possible. He then noted the many nonprofits and group homes in the city that do not pay taxes, adding a question as to whether or not they pay water and sewer bills. He then suggested that such entities could pay PILOT agreements. He also suggested that a public hearing be held at a full City Council meeting as opposed to in a subcommittee meeting.

Chairwoman Lisi expressed her understanding that when a public hearing is advertised, the proposed rate has to be included in the notice.

M. McManus confirmed that was correct.

Chairwoman Lisi clarified that the proposed rate could be amended as a result of the discussion in a public hearing. She then recalled that that past public hearings had been held within the Ordinance Committee.

Councilor McGiverin asked for a status update on unpaid bills.

M. McManus stated while he did not have that information in front of him, they had been making more collections as a result of their first round of shut off letters for nonpayment.

Councilor McGiverin asked what the collection rate had been the past year during the pandemic.

M. McManus stated that it had not deviated much less than 93%.

Councilor McGiverin asked if any money had come in from liens.

M. McManus stated they have money turned in regularly when payments are made, adding that they forfeit a lien if the city forecloses on a property. He then stated that when a property is sold, they are able to collect on a lien. He also stated that any entity connected to the sewer pays a bill regardless of tax status.

Councilor McGiverin suggested having a discussion on returning the rate setting role to the DPW Commission, noting they could handle it in a more timely fashion.

Councilor Murphy suggested that while the DPW Commission may be able to handle it in a more timely fashion, it may not be as publicly accessible. He noted that while councilors may have more political concerns, it would be important for the City Council to handle it. He reiterated the importance of acting on it soon. He then suggested that if after advertising a public hearing with a proposal of $8.05 it was proposed to be $7.77, it would be listening to the public.

Councilor McGiverin reiterated that the major issue was that the City Council sets the rate but has no control over the budget, adding that was why he filed the order to change who sets the rate.

Chairwoman Lisi suggested setting a date for a public hearing, and then asked for advice on how to use the order to advertise for it.

Councilor Murphy noted that the rate would have to be noticed.

Chairwoman Lisi clarified that she was seeking advice on how to move the order out of committee, sent it before the full City Council, and then schedule the public hearing.

Atty Bissonnette noted a requirement that whoever sets the rate would conduct the public hearing, adding that if the rate setting was returned to the DPW Commission, they would set a public hearing.

Chairwoman Lisi asked if the motion should be to refer the order to the mayor and allow him to call a special meeting.

Atty Bissonnette stated that the motion could be to approve and refer to the mayor in order for him to call a special hearing.

Councilor Murphy asked if the committee should send a recommendation to the full City Council to conduct a public hearing which would be received on August 3rd, and then he could call a special meeting.

Chairwoman Lisi stated that if the Ordinance Committee holds a public hearing, they would just need to forward a recommendation to the City Council.

Councilor Murphy suggested giving the public plenty of time.

Chairwoman Lisi noted that there were a series of joint hearings on July 27th with the Planning Board. She then suggested holding the hearing on July 20th with the one item.

Admin Asst Anderson-Burgos stated there would not be enough time to notice for the 20th.

Chairwoman Lisi asked for a clarification.

Admin Asst Anderson-Burgos noted that the deadline to get the language to the paper would have been that day.

Chairwoman Lisi stated the meeting could be held on the 21st, 22nd, or 26th.

Councilor Murphy asked if that would give the committee enough time.

Admin Asst Anderson-Burgos reiterated that day would have been the deadline to get the notice language to the paper in time for that Friday’s and the following Friday’s publications. He added that the following Tuesday, July 6th would be the deadline to get the language to the paper for publication on the 9th and the 16th. He then stated that the 16th would be less than 7 days from one of the suggested dates.

Chairwoman Lisi noted that they would be looking at the last week of July.

Admin Asst Anderson-Burgos noted that there would be a DGR meeting on the 26th, adding that the 28th or 29th would be the remaining days open.

Chairwoman Lisi suggested tabling and setting the public hearing for July 28th.

Councilor McGiverin asked if the date would be available for the Finance Committee.

Chairwoman Lisi suggested that the public hearing could start earlier to share the date with Finance.

Admin Asst Anderson-Burgos asked if the Finance Chair would be planning to use that date.

Councilor McGiverin stated he would be open to that.

Councilor Murphy made a motion to table and set the public hearing for July 28th at 6:00 PM. Chairwoman Lisi seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

Item 2: 5-18-21 VACON, BARTLEY, MCGIVERIN, LISI -- Ordered, that the setting of the sewer rate be returned from the City Council to the DPW Commission where it had been previously determined.

---> Laid on the table, 3-0.

 

Item 3: 6-15-21 MURPHY -- Ordered that the city council raise the sewer fee to a minimum of $8.05 per 1000 gallons in order to make certain that the enterprise fund no longer operates with deficits, but also to plan for the additional needed improvements funded by debt service.

---> Laid on the table. Public hearing set for July 28th at 6:00 PM. 3-0.

 

Item 4: 6-15-21 From Michael P. McManus, Superintendent Department of Public Works, letter re: Sewer Rate Recommendation.

---> Laid on the table, 3-0.

 

Councilor Anderson-Burgos made a motion to take item 6 off the table. Councilor Murphy seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

Item 6: 2-18-20 TALLMAN -- Ordered, that Ordered That Ordinance Section 12-4 Flags of the City of Holyoke be amended to include the new regulations for flying the POW flag.

---> Referred to Law Department, 3-0.

DISCUSSION:

Chairwoman Lisi noted there was guidance provided from the Department of Defense website. She then read the guidance into the record:
The POW/MIA flag is flown below the U.S. flag. Generally, it is not displayed with other flags. The POW/MIA flag is generally not included in a color guard. If it is flown next to the U.S. flag (i.e. on a separate pole), it should be on the U.S. flag's direct left. The POW/MIA flag should be flown on:
- Armed Forces Day (3rd Saturday in May)
- Memorial Day (Last Monday in May)
- Flag Day (June 14)
- Independence Day (July 4)
- National POW/MIA Recognition Day (3rd Friday in September)
- Veterans Day (November 11)
The POW/MIA flag flies continuously over:
- The White House
- The Capitol Rotunda
- The Korean War Veterans Memorial
- The Vietnam Veterans Memorial
- The World War II Memorial
- Each National Cemetery
- Buildings containing the offices of the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, the Director of the Selective Service System
- Each major military installation
- Each U.S. post office

Councilor Murphy noted that the city currently flew it below the U.S. flag. He stated it had been his impression it could be flown continuously but was not sure after reading the guidance. He then asked if it was to be flown only on those days or flown under the U.S. flag throughout the year.

Chairwoman Lisi stated her understanding was that it can be flown continuously below the U.S. flag, adding that on the specified days it would be flown to the left of the U.S. flag and would become equal in stature.

Councilor Murphy asked if on the 4th of July, it should be on a separate pole at the same height.

Chairwoman Lisi suggested that would be correct.

Admin Asst Anderson-Burgos suggested that no other flags can ever be the same height as the U.S. flag.

Councilor Murphy stated that was his understanding.

Chairwoman Lisi noted the guidance doesn’t refer to height, only that it would be flown next to the U.S. flag on a separate pole to left. She then suggested seeking guidance from the Law Department who could defer to national, state, or Department of Defense guidelines.

Councilor Murphy asked if the order was updating the ordinance.

Chairwoman Lisi clarified the city needed to update the local ordinances to reflect the changes at the federal level.

Councilor Anderson-Burgos made a motion to refer to the Law Department to draft legal language. Councilor Murphy seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

Chairwoman Lisi suggested leaving item 7 on the table in order to take it up when the maker could be available to discuss it.

Item 7: 4-6-21 VACON -- Effective March 26, 2021, for the remainder of 2021 or sooner if allowed by the MA General Court, any Acting Mayor, if accepting the Mayor’s salary, shall be paid on a prorated basis if performing the duties part time

---> Remained on the table.

 

Councilor Murphy made a motion to table. Councilor Anderson-Burgos seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

 

Adjourned at 8:30 PM.


Jeffery Anderson-Burgos
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
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