CITY OF WORCESTER

Municipal and Legislative Operations Committee Meeting

Monday, April 10, 2023

Esther Howland (South) Chamber

Convened: 6:03 P.M.

Adjourned: 9:26 P.M.


Mayor
Joseph M. Petty

 

www.worcesterma.gov

 

Clerk of the City Council
Nikolin Vangjeli

Committee Members

Chairperson Khrystian E King
Vice Chairperson George J Russell
Councilor Sean M Rose
 

City Hall - 455 Main Street Worcester, Massachusetts


Present Were:Chairperson Councilor Khrystian E. King Councilor George J. Russell Councilor Sean M. Rose, who participated in the meeting remotely
 
Also:Councilor Etel Haxhiaj Councilor Thu Nguyen Councilor Candy Mero-Carlson Chief Development Officer Peter Dunn Director of Neighborhood and Development Gregory Baker City Auditor Robert V. Stearns Chief Financial Officer Timothy McGourthy Director of Budget Erin Taylor Coordinator of Employment Nina Galica City Clerk Nikolin Vangjeli, clerk
 
1.

Virtual Attendee Call-In Information

1a.

Pursuant to Chapter 20 of the Acts of 2021 and in order to ensure active, public engagement, the City of Worcester currently allows for both in-person and remote participation at all City Council and Standing Committee meetings. To partake in the meeting, you may attend the meeting in-person within the meeting location, follow the below link to join via Zoom or dial the direct line as indicated.

Municipal and Legislative Operations Committee Zoom Link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/93823030890
Municipal and Legislative Operations Committee Zoom Phone Number: (929) 205 6099
Municipal and Legislative Operations Committee Zoom Access Code: 938 2303 0890

Attachments
2.

Approval of the Minutes

2a.

Order - That the City Council Standing Committee of Municipal and Legislative Operations hereby approves the minutes of the Municipal and Legislative Operations Committee meeting of March 2, 2023.

View Agenda

Chairperson Councilor King read the item and moved for a roll call vote to adopt the item. Order adopted on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays

3.

Communications of the City Manager

3a.

Transmitting informational communication relative to the Fiscal Year 2023 financial update, as of January 31, 2023. # 9.29A CM February 28, 2023

Attachments

Chairperson Councilor King read the item and moved to take the item up collectively with item #3b.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized the Director of Budget, who provided an overview of the cityís financial health, including information relative to local receipts.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized Councilor Russell, who discussed the consistency of funds with the City Auditor.

Chairperson Councilor King moved for a roll call vote to recommend the items be placed on file.

Recommend File on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays

3b.

Transmitting informational communication relative to the Fiscal Year 2023 financial update, as of October 31, 2022. # 11.29A CM November 29, 2022

Attachments

Recommend File on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays (See Item #3a)

3c.

Transmitting informational update on American Rescue Plan Act Funds (ARPA). # 11.4A CM November 29, 2022

Attachments

Chairperson Councilor King read the item and recognized the Chief Development Officer and Director of Neighborhood Development, who provided a status update relative to American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds available to the city, including information concerning the mental health work that will be done by the city, the review process for applications and the difference between social programs and capital projects.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized the following speakers:
1. Derek Kaiser, Worcester resident, spoke neither in favor or opposed to the item
2. Kevin Ksen, Worcester resident, spoke neither in favor or opposed to the item
3. Keith Scott, Worcester resident, spoke neither in favor or opposed to the item
4. Scott Galbraith, Worcester resident, spoke neither in favor or opposed to the item
5. Maydee Morales, Worcester resident, spoke neither in favor or opposed to the item
6. Amy Evason, Rutland resident, spoke neither in favor or opposed to the item
7. Casey Burns, Worcester resident, spoke neither in favor or opposed to the item

Chairperson Councilor King discussed the breakdown of project proposals tracks, both social programs and capital projects, the federal governmentís pre-award risk assessment process used for each ARPA funding application, and any work being done with unsuccessful applications with the Chief Development Officer and Director of Neighborhood Development.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized Councilor Russell, who discussed whether the ARPA fund allocations were finalized, as well as whether organizations that fail to complete their proposals could have their funds allocated to other organizations with the Chief Development Officer.

Councilor Russell then discussed whether the city awarded ARPA monies based on data that determined areas and populations in the city that were disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, as well as how the APRA application Committee process was established with the Chief Development Officer and Director of Neighborhood Development.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized Councilor Rose, who discussed the administrationís capacity to provide feedback to applicants, as well as the urgency behind expending ARPA monies with the Chief Development Officer.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized Councilor Haxhiaj, who discussed the role structural racism has in making it difficult for specific populations to secure ARPA funding, as well as how the city will support organizations during the fund reimbursement period.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized Councilor Nguyen, who discussed who the point person was in ensuring work was done from a diversity, equity, and inclusion standpoint when ARPA funding applications were put together and reviewed.

Chairperson Councilor King discussed whether there were any partial awards for applicants, the diversity, equity, and inclusion backgrounds of individuals who were associated with the ARPA application process, and the opportunities the city had to partner with outside agencies to help with diversity, equity and inclusion work while creating and reviewing ARPA applications with the Chief Development Officer.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized Councilor Russell, who discussed the inequities associated with which organizations received help in filling the APRA monies applications.

Chairperson Councilor King discussed whether additional staff had been hired to aid in the process for overseeing the American Rescue Plan (ARPA) funds with the Chief Development Officer.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized Councilor Russell, who discussed the Chairmanís Order process with the City Clerk.

Chairperson Councilor King brought forth the following (3) three Chairmanís Orders on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays: 1) Request City Manager review the feasibility of any potential consultant work that could aid in the oversight of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds; 2) Request City Manager provide City Council with a report concerning the language associated with the reimbursement process associated with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds; and 3) Request City Manager review the feasibility of retroactively discontinuing any reimbursement model associated with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) monies, as long as such a model is not in violation of any ARPA regulations or requirements.

Chairperson Councilor King then brought forth the following (2) Chairmanís Orders, which were introduced by Councilor Rose, on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays: 1) Request City Manager review American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) monies allocations to work with applicants to ensure said monies are expended in as timely and urgently a way as possible; and 2) Request City Manager highlight in an urgent fashion the timeline in which applicants should file their applications relative to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) monies.

Chairperson Councilor King then brought forth the following Chairmanís Order, which was introduced by Councilor Russell, on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays: Request City Manager determine a timeline to ensure organizations receiving American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are kept in check. Further, request City Manager ensure other organizations are made aware if said monies become available.

Chairperson Councilor King then brought forth the following Chairmanís Order on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays: Request City Manager provide City Council with a demographic breakdown of the Executive Director and Board of Directors of each organization that was award American Rescue Plan (ARPA) monies.

Chairperson Councilor King moved for a roll call vote to recommend the item be placed on file.

Recommend File on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays

Chairman's Orders

Request City Manager review the feasibility of any potential consultant work that could aid in the oversight of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Request City Manager provide City Council with a report concerning the language associated with the reimbursement process associated with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Request City Manager review the feasibility of retroactively discontinuing any reimbursement model associated with American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) monies, as long as such a model is not in violation of any ARPA regulations or requirements.

Request City Manager review American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) monies allocations to work with applicants to ensure said monies are expended in as timely and urgently a way as possible.

Request City Manager highlight in an urgent fashion the timeline in which applicants should file their applications relative to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) monies.

Request City Manager determine a timeline to ensure organizations receiving American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are kept in check. Further, request City Manager ensure other organizations are made aware if said monies become available.

Request City Manager provide City Council with a demographic breakdown of the Executive Director and Board of Directors of each organization that was award American Rescue Plan (ARPA) monies.

4.

Communications of the City Clerk

4a.

Transmitting an informational communication relative to the Chief of Council position, the City Clerk's Office position that supports the Chief of Council position and a comparison of City Council support staffs of similar sized cities in the Commonwealth. # 18k CC March 21, 2023

Attachments

Chairperson Councilor King read the item and provided an overview of actions taken relative to staffing support for the City Council.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized the City Clerk, who discussed the support staff City Councils in other communities have, challenges associated with having one full-time staff person for ten City Councilors and the City Clerkís role relative to supporting City Council.

Chairperson Councilor King discussed the hiring process for each Chief of Council position, how the Secretary of City Council position was eliminated in 2009 and the need for additional staffing within the City Council Office with the City Clerk.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized Councilor Russell, who discussed complications associated with changing the City Charter to allow for the City Council to hire their own staff.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized Councilor Rose, who discussed the workload each District City Councilor faces in their roles.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized Councilor Mero-Carlson, who discussed the difficulties the City Council had securing support staff, as well as the responsibilities of the Chief of Council role.

Chairperson Councilor King discussed potential language relative to a change in the City Charter to allow for City Council to have the authority to hire and manage their own staff with the City Clerk.

Chairperson Councilor King then brought forth the following Chairmanís Order: Request City Clerk work with the Director of Human Resources to develop a survey relative to both the Chief of Council position and the and Principal Clerk position in the City Clerkís Office that is assigned to work with the City Council in order to determine what tasks each position should be utilized for and each City Councilorís overall understanding of how to best utilize the positions.

Chairperson Councilor King recognized Councilor Russell, who discussed providing each City Councilor with their own budget allotment to hire staff as they see fit.

Chairperson Councilor King then brought forth the following three (3) Chairmanís Orders on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays: 1) Request City Clerk work with the City Manager and City Council to determine appropriate staffing levels for City Council support staff; 2) Request City Manager consider ensuring a minimum of two additional staff members are budgeted in the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Budget for City Council support staff; and 3) Request City Manager consider setting aside contingency funding to allow for the City Council to budget for additional future staff beyond the originally requested two (2) staff members in the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Budget.

Chairperson Councilor King then brought forth the following Chairmanís Order on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays: Request City Manager request City Solicitor provide City Council with a report concerning potentially amending the City Charter to include the following language: ďThe City Council shall have no power of appointment except those powers specifically granted to the City Council in this charter and except as to the appointment of the secretaries, stenographers, clerks, telephone operators, and messengers connected with their office whose appointment shall not be subject to the civil service laws. The City Council may remove said appointees without a hearing and without making a statement as to the cause of their removal.Ē

Chairperson Councilor King then brought forth the following Chairmanís Resolution on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays: ďThat the City Council of the City of Worcester does hereby support amending the City Charter in order to allow for City Council to hires its own City Council Staff.Ē

Chairperson Councilor King then brought forth the following Chairmanís Order: Request City Clerk, until such a time the City Council is able to hire its own staff, organize an Executive Session for the purpose of discussing strategy for hiring City Council support staff prior to the final hiring of any position.

Chairperson Councilor King moved for a roll call vote to recommend the item be held.

Recommend Hold on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays

Chairman's Orders

Request City Clerk work with the Director of Human Resources to develop a survey relative to both the Chief of Council position and the and Principal Clerk position in the City Clerkís Office that is assigned to work with the City Council in order to determine what tasks each position should be utilized for and each City Councilorís overall understanding of how to best utilize the positions.

Request City Clerk work with the City Manager and City Council to determine appropriate staffing levels for City Council support staff.

Request City Manager consider ensuring a minimum of two additional staff members are budgeted in the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Budget for City Council support staff.

Request City Manager consider setting aside contingency funding to allow for the City Council to budget for additional future staff beyond the originally requested two (2) staff members in the Fiscal Year 2024 (FY24) Budget.

Request City Manager request City Solicitor provide City Council with a report concerning potentially amending the City Charter to include the following language: ďThe City Council shall have no power of appointment except those powers specifically granted to the City Council in this charter and except as to the appointment of the secretaries, stenographers, clerks, telephone operators, and messengers connected with their office whose appointment shall not be subject to the civil service laws. The City Council may remove said appointees without a hearing and without making a statement as to the cause of their removal.Ē

Request City Clerk, until such a time the City Council is able to hire its own staff, organize an Executive Session for the purpose of discussing strategy for hiring City Council support staff prior to the final hiring of any position.

Chairman's Resolutions

That the City Council of the City of Worcester does hereby support amending the City Charter in order to allow for City Council to hires its own City Council Staff.

4b.

Transmitting an informational communication regarding the administration of the 2023 Municipal Elections. # 9b CC December 13, 2022

Attachments

Chairperson Councilor King read the item and moved for a roll call vote to recommend the item be held.

Recommend Hold on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays

4c.

Transmitting an informational communication relative to the passage of an amendment to the Worcester Home Rule Charter, effective September 1, 2022. # 12b CC November 15, 2022

Attachments

Chairperson Councilor King read the item and moved for a roll call vote to recommend the item be held.

Recommend Hold on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays

4d.

Transmitting an informational communication relative to information regarding the process of making charter changes and placing ballot questions on a State Election ballot. # 13a CC June 7, 2022

In Committee August 24, 2022 - Held In Committee October 19, 2022 - Held

Attachments

Chairperson Councilor King read the item and moved for a roll call vote to recommend the item be held.

Recommend Hold on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays

5.

Miscellaneous Item

5a.

Order of Councilor Khrystian E. King - Request City Manager work with the Director of Human Resources to develop an annual performance evaluation tool for the City Clerk and City Auditor. # 11a CC February 7, 2023

Attachments

Chairperson Councilor King read the item and recognized the Coordinator of Employment, who provided an update relative to the steps being taken by Human Resources to create an annual performance evaluation tool for the City Clerk and City Auditor.

Chairperson Councilor King moved for a roll call vote to recommend the item be held.

Recommend Hold on a roll call vote of 3 Yeas and 0 Nays