Councilors Approve Haverhill Consentino School Roof Repairs by 5-3 Vote

Moment of compromise. Finance Director Charles Benevento confers with Mayor James J. Fiorentini. Author Christopher Golden is seated in the foreground. (WHAV News photograph.)

A last-minute compromise Tuesday night saw Haverhill city councilors approve paying for temporary roof repairs at the Albert B. Consentino School.

Councilors voted 5-3 with one absent to transfer $400,000 to pay for roof work aimed at plugging 95% of leaks until major renovations take place in a few years. The vote, postponed from two weeks ago, at first was destined for defeat. City Councilor Timothy J. Jordan appeared to have lined up four votes against transferring $129,000 away from an account for roof repairs at Haverhill High School’s Charles C. White Pool.

“Promises that are made when we negotiate something in good faith that you’re going to live up to your end of the bargain when we’ve lived up to our end, I have a fundamental problem with that and I can’t support that,” he said.

Jordan explained Mayor James J. Fiorentini promised the pool roof repairs last fall as part of a tax compromise. Jordan at first appeared to have support from Council President John A. Michitson and Councilors Melinda E. Barrett and Michael S. McGonagle. With Councilor Colin F. LePage absent, the roof fix would have gone down to defeat.

After a quick consultation at the podium with Finance Director Charles Benevento, the mayor offered to use $72,000 from a software package to offset the amount taken from the high school fund. The software cut was “OpenGov,” described by its developer as useful for “budgeting, reporting and open data.”

Nearly all councilors agreed the debate did not cast the government in good light. Michitson summed it up. “Quite frankly, tonight, this is an important vote because we could look like a bunch of imbeciles,” he said.

In the end Barrett joined Council Vice President Thomas J. Sullivan and Councilors Joseph J. Bevilacqua, William J. Macek and Mary Ellen Daly O’Brien in supporting the mayor’s compromise. Fiorentini said all major repairs will be considered in the next city budget which goes into effect July 1.

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