Acting Mayor prepares for transition

Acting Mayor Ralph J. Figy. (Photo submitted)

WESTFIELD- After a week bustling with holiday events and appearances throughout the city, Acting Mayor Ralph J. Figy is now focusing on the transition in City Hall for Mayor-Elect Donald. F. Humason, Jr.
Figy and Humason met on Dec. 5, and plan to meet five more times with all of the department heads in the city. Figy said the goal is to have each department explain to the mayor-elect what it is they do, and who everybody is in their department.
At the first meeting was Department of Public Works Director David Billips and Systems Engineer Heather Stayton. Figy and Humason also had a briefing with City Solicitor Susan Phillips on current issues.
“It’s important to know who is working for the Mmayor, and what they do,” Figy said, adding, “I am trying to have a smooth transition.”
On Dec. 11, Figy plans to accompany Westfield Public Schools Superintendent Stefan Czaporowski and Schools Chief Financial Officer Ronald R. Rix to the vote by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) on whether to go forward with the feasibility study for the Franklin Avenue Elementary School project. All three are looking forward to a positive vote.
Figy is also arranging for a brainstorming meeting on Dec. 20 with mayors from surrounding communities to discuss issues around recycling.
Figy said when the city first started recycling, they made money on it. More recently, they’ve just about broken even. Now, with new tariffs and a collapsing market for recyclables in China, it’s going to cost the city money to recycle.
The new three-year contract, which beings in January, will cost the city $150 per ton to get rid of recyclables, and may cost the city an estimated $400,000 to $500,000 a year, according to the DPW director, Figy said. He said he wants them to explore all the options before the Mayor-Elect signs the contract.
The city is inviting mayors from Agawam, Chicopee, Holyoke and West Springfield to Westfield to discuss the issues. They are also inviting state legislators to the meeting, which will be run by Billips. “We need some help at the state level,” Figy said.
Most of the holiday festivities at which the mayor-elect is expected to represent were hosted last week, ending with the Lantern Parade and Lighting of the Tree. “Hopefully, it’s going to slow down a little. It was a wild week last week,” Figy said, adding he will be representing the city at First Night at the Boys and Girls Club.

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