Special to The Gardner News
During their Dec. 7 meeting, the council approved an increase in their municipal court fees to a rate of around$50.
Laura Gourley, city finance director, said the change was caused when the state increased their fees and the city decided it was time that they also add a small increase as well. The $50 fee is intended to simplify the process, but Gourley did say that there will be a few instances where an issued fee is less.
The council wanted to make sure that any future increase in fees was approved by the council. They were also concerned that fees increased by the state would be viewed by the general public as having originated with the city.
“I think it’s important that these issues are brought to the forefront,” said Harrison. “ If the state is raising fees that the city is expected to collect, then the city gets blamed.”
According to the city’s agenda, the court fees retained in the city’s general fund were last increased in July 2010.
In December, 2013 Gourley said receipts for court fines, fees and diversion was running about $386,000 when compared to 2014 budget projections of about $300,000. Gardner court fines were $45 which includes a $20.50 for state assessed law enforcement and judges’ training fund and $24.50 to Gardner court. At that time, Gardner averaged about 275 citations per month.
In other business:
—The council also approved a change to their
See COUNCIL, page 8
From COUNCIL, page 1
municipal job descriptions and a few pay adjustments. The change will create a few senior positions within the city and adjust the system for pay increases. Alan Abramovitz, city human resources manager, said the changes should improve the retention of employees and should attract good municipal employees to work for the city. He said for some positions the new opportunities are a raise and that the change originated with an employee survey.
Gourley said the money for the changes in pay actually originated with some revenue the city collected through sales taxes and some the city had as part of a debt contingency plan.
A list of the proposed salary changes is available on the city’s website.
—Another source of conflict at the meeting came from a group of individuals concerned with the changes taking place with the Gardner Municipal Airport. During an opportunity for public comment, several people spoke about confusion related to a variety of policy changes at the airport. Much of the unrest was centered on insurance, the role of the airport board of directors, and the new airport manager appointed by the city administration.
Cam Blazer, former airport board member, said the increased role the city will play in managing the airport is the source of the confusion, and the people who use the airport have been having a difficult time understanding some new guidelines being set by the city.
Brian Faust, public works director, said his department and other members of the administration have been meeting with the airport board since August to ensure the new increased responsibility of the city is outlined and understood by everyone who uses the airport.
Ryan Denk, city attorney, said one source of confusion may come from planes that do not have any insurance and that while cars are required to have insurance, planes are exempt. Faust and Denk said they would look into the confusion with the upcoming guidelines for the airport and contact the board of directors.
—The council also chose not to nominate Ryan Learned to the the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee, because Learned already serving on a city committee. Lee Moore, councilmember, said he originally nominated Learned without realizing how it could cause some issues and that he fully understood the concern.
During public comments, a statement was read by a resident who said previously the council had declined to nominate persons who served on other committees.