NORTH ADAMS -- Michael Canales isn't wasting any time in his new role as the city's administrative officer. With just two weeks under his belt, he's already knee deep in several large projects.
"My first priority is preparing the city's response back to the state Department of Justice, which recently completed a American with Disabilities Act review," he said Tuesday, pointing to a thick folder on his desk. "It's quite lengthy. I'm also looking at [tax] delinquencies and the procedures concerning them. And budget season is right around the corner -- department budgets are due at the end of the week."
He's also overseeing the implementation of the city's proposed diagonal parking plan on Main Street and tackling the city's green community status.
Canales, who took over the vacant position on March 5, served as the town administrator in Clarksburg for 10 years.
"There is a little bit of an adjustment," Canales said. "After 10 years in Clarksburg, I just knew where everything was. One of the biggest differences is that in Clarksburg there's not a lot of staff, so you become a jack-of-all-trades. I'm used to board members and certain officials only being available at night. Here, we have departments staffed all day."
He added, "I worked with some outstanding people in Clarksburg, as I am here. During my 10 years in Clarksburg, we always had a great working relationship with the city, so I came in knowing most of the people here already. Also, I'm a life-long resident of the city, so I knew others from outside of the office."
There's also a bit of a learning curve, he said.
"I'm learning the computer system, and I'm getting up to speed on the budget and projects like the Mohawk Theater," Canales said. "With the ADA report, it hasn't been touched yet, so I'm starting off with it being my own project. Something like the Mohawk Theater, which has been ongoing for some time, takes some time to get into. I want to understand the project, which has had various forms and people working on it."
For the time being, his focus will be more on municipal projects and implementing best practices suggested in the city's audit review and by the state Department of Revenue.
"My first priority is municipal issues," he said. "Over time, I'll become more involved with economic development issues. A lot of those duties [previously handled by the position] will remain in the Community Development office."
In the meantime, Canales said he's looking forward to the new challenges that come with the position.
"While I loved working in Clarksburg, I was looking for new challenges and responsibilities associated with a bigger community," he said. "I also wanted to stay in the area. When this opportunity came up, it seemed like the perfect fit."
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