When he was elected as the new City Council President earlier this month, Council President Roy Avellaneda promised to bring some changes to how the board operates.
The first change was visual. Rather than remaining seated during the meeting, Avellaneda led the meeting from a podium and remained standing for the duration.
On the more practical side, Avellaneda successfully introduced an order that will consolidate the size of Council subcommittees to three members.
“Currently, we are looking at subcommittees that are a mix of three and five members,” he said. “One of my goals as president is to make the subcommittees more effective and to meet more than in the past. I think the key to that is reducing them to just one size.”
Reducing the size of the subcommittees would not preclude other Council members from attending and giving feedback, but it would make it easier to achieve a quorum, with only two of the three members of a subcommittee needing to attend.
“Having just three members, I think, will make it more effective,” Avellaneda said. “Anyone invited to attend the meetings will be allowed to speak.”
The City Council’s Committee on Conference will not be affected by the change, and will continue to include all members of the Council.
Councillors Damali Vidot and Calvin Brown cast the two votes against the change.
Vidot said she would like to see more information on why some committees were originally established with five members and others with three before approving the change.
“I’m not necessarily for or against this,” Vidot said. “We do need to divvy up some of the meetings to other conferences.”
District 6 Councillor Giovanni Recupero asked several times if the intent of the change was to ensure the committees reached a quorum.
“Is the intent to have a quorum? That’s not a bad thing,” he said, adding that in the end, anything that is approved by the Council still needs six votes from the entire body.
•In other business, Recupero and District 4 Councillor Enio Lopez introduced an order asking City Manager Thomas Ambrosino to come up with a plan for replacing broken street lights in the city.
“Councillor Recupero and I got together and looked at all of the lights and have seen so many lights that are out or have not been fixed properly,” Lopez said.
•The Council also approved a new contract with the City’s Municipal Library Employees.
The most significant change in the new agreement is the elimination of compensatory time, according to Ambrosino.
“All employees will now be paid for overtime,” he stated. “This was a key desire of the City given the problems we have faced providing personnel coverage for employees with excessive compensatory time.”
The agreement sets a raise of 2.5 percent for FY20, 2.75 percent for FY21, and 3 percent for FY22. Because the union has only four members, Ambrosino said the total cost of all wage increases over three years is about $27,000.
•The City Manager also informed the Council that Chelsea Community Cable Television is willing to expand its coverage of municipal meetings, starting with the Zoning Board of Appeals, Licensing Commission, and Traffic and Parking Commission.
“The only issue remaining is to determine whether those meetings will be carried ‘live’ or on tape delay,” Ambrosino stated. “In order to broadcast meetings live, the meetings must take place in the City Council chambers. That is the only venue that can accommodate a live broadcast.”