City council agrees on extra money for collector

A measure that almost didn’t make it out of committee last week was passed by the full council Tuesday on a 9-2 vote.

The measure, an appropriation for $7,260 to pay for temporary help in the collector’s office – a request usually considered routine – was staunchly opposed by personnel and human services committee Chairwoman Sara Lynn Reynolds and committee member Richard Conti.

Reynolds said there needs to be a better system to determine if a department needs extra help.

Currently, the mayor, as the city’s chief administrator, makes the decision and sends a request for funding to the council.

But Reynolds said the method is arbitrary and may have left some departments without help that needed it in the past.

An independent review from another body such as the personnel board should help analyze the need, she said.

“My concerns in this regard are not meant to imply that the personnel department and all its employees have not done their job or that any city employee or department is not working to capacity,” she said.

“It just suggests that an impartial body should be managing the need-based review before it gets to the council for a vote.”

However, others, such as Councilor Brian Kirby, warned that such a requirement could improperly infringe on the administration’s role in city government.

“I very much worry about this council getting involved in the executive function, which I fear your suggestions extend to,” he said.

Both Reynolds and Conti were ready to vote against the appropriation in committee last week, which would have kept it from a vote of the full council, but they relented at the request of fellow councilors.

Reynolds said Collector Deb Marcoccio failed to present enough evidence the extra help is needed, and Conti agreed.

In a letter to Mayor Kevin Dumas, Marcoccio said one person of the six-person office is out because of medical problems and others apparently are restricted in the duties they can perform, causing work backups and long lines at the collector’s window.

Sheila Oliver