Action items passed at City Council meeting

At-Large City Councilor John J. Beltrandi, III served as president pro-temp at Wednesday’s Council meeting.

WESTFIELD – The City Council met on Wednesday, a meeting that was rescheduled due to the Westfield Technical Academy graduation on Thursday. At-large Councilor John J. Beltrandi, III served as president pro-temp in Ralph J. Figy’s absence.
During public participation, Ward 1 resident Jean Carpenter asked for air monitoring for two weeks at four locations on the north side, including Southampton Road Elementary School, Route 202 at the Turnpike, Southampton Road on the bridge over the Turnpike and Cabot Road near the proposed site of the Turnpike Industrial Park, due to the high volume of traffic and poor air quality in the area.
Immediate consideration was given for acceptance of Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) Aeronautics Division grants to Westfield Barnes Airport of $901,280 for the repair of frost heaves on Runway 2-20, and $134,400 for removal of trees near the approach to Runways 02 and 15; both of which passed unanimously.
Also passing unanimously was acceptance of a gift donation of $2,694 from Ocean State Job Lot’s Charitable Foundation to the Westfield Animal Shelter, and of miscellaneous furniture from UBS Financial Services, Inc. to the Purchasing Department.
Personnel Action Committee Chair Cindy C. Harris asked for immediate consideration of the G.L. disclosure for Angela Burek, a paraprofessional in the School Department to serve as Playground Director for the Park & Recreation Department. Harris said Burek has the summers off, and would like to work for the department, as she has done in the past. Councilors voted unanimously to approve.
Councilors also approved a recommendation from the Personnel Action Committee for the appointment of William J. Brown of East Mountain Road as a member of the Council on Aging until 2022, to replace Cynthia Anderson. Harris said COA Director Tina Gorman met with Brown, a retired lawyer, and called him “a great fit for the board.” Brown previously served the city on the Board of Assessors.
Ward 6 Councilor William Onyski passed along an invitation to Councilors to march in the annual Hampton Ponds Association July 4th parade. At-large Councilor Dan Allie joined in encouraging participation.
“We don’t have a lot of neighborhood associations, and they do a great job,” Allie said.
Onyski also reported that the MassDOT sent a letter accepting the Heavy Trucks Restriction for the entire length of Paper Mill Road from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m., which was placed on file, and becomes effective immediately.
At-large Councilor Brent B. Bean, II reported on recommendations from the Finance sub-committee held earlier in the evening. The first was a 2-0 recommendation from Bean and Beltrandi for an appropriation of $930,327 from Free Cash to the Snow & Ice Budget.
“We’re in this position every year. This is one of the only accounts we can deficit spend in,” Bean said before unanimous passage.
Bean also presented a 2-0 recommendation for an appropriation of $200,000 from Free Cash for the Department of Public Works, Wastewater Division, which narrowly passed. At-large Councilor Dave Flaherty said he would be a no vote, because the division is fee-based, and should be covered.
“It’s unfair to be taking money out of Free Cash,” Flaherty said, adding that there should be a rate increase if it is needed, to which Surprise concurred.
Allie questioned whether their budget had been cut. Bean said the city did a lot of sewer work this year, and has done six years worth of expansion over the last three years.
Emmershy responded that the division overspent, and the city should “hit the brakes,” and evaluate the fees. The motion passed seven to five, with Bean, Beltrandi, Babinski, Burns, Harris, LeFebvre and Onyski voting yes, and Allie, Emmershy, Flaherty, Morganelli and Surprise voting no.
Bean also recommended an appropriation of $350,000 from Free Cash to the Overlay account to make up for a deficit of anticipated revenue in the FY19 overlay, to prevent having to raise the deficit on the FY20 recap. Bean said the deficit was due to tax abatements through the year.
Flaherty said he wasn’t sure the city had enough money, and made a follow-up request for a list of the abatements and exemptions. Flaherty was the sole no vote, as the item passed 11-1.
Ward 4 Councilor Michael Burns introduced a first reading on the revised short term rental ordinance approved by the Legislative & Ordinance committee. Burns said there were two main changes; an increase to 270 calendar days allowable for short term rentals, and prohibiting absentee owners. The amended ordinance was approved with no dissent, and moved to a second reading and final passage.

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