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Pittsfield Finance Director: Grant Has Curbed Firefighter Overtime

The hiring of eight new firefighters through a safer grant is helping curb overtime. For years the overtime budgets for both the Police Department and the Fire Department have been underfunded, leaving a deficit that needs to be made up at the close of the fiscal year every year. This year, however, the city won a federal grant to bring on eight new firefighters and with that, overtime had dropped dramatically.

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Lanesborough Sticks With Single Tax Rate For Fiscal 2018

Assessor Kelly Tolisano said the tax rate will be increasing by 51 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate is now $21.40, which reflects an increase of just short of 2.5 percent.

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Clarksburg Sees Tax Rate Drop, Tax Bills Rise

Assessor Ross Vivori said the town usually gains $8,000 to $12,000 from annual growth but this past year it gained more than $30,000 on $2 million in new growth. The town's total assessed value also increased dramatically, by $9 million, showing a strong recovery from the falling values of several years ago.

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North Adams Council OKs Tax Rates for Fiscal 2018

The council approved the split tax rate that will see the residential rate rise about 4 percent, up from $17.67; the commercial rate will rise about 3 percent, from $38.54 to $39.85 per $1,000 valuation. A single family home assessed at $138,300 would see another $123 on the tax bill.

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Pittsfield Establishes Community Preservation Act Budget

The Community Preservation Committee expects a $420,000 budget in the fiscal year 2018. The Community Preservation Act was accepted by voters in November and city officials have been establishing the process since then. The act calls for a surcharge on the tax bills of 1 percent, with the first $100,000 value being exempted. That money goes into a fund, which is controlled by a locally created Community Preservation Committee, to use on affordable housing, parks and open space, historic prese

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Adams Sets Fiscal 2018 Tax Rate of $22.21

During the town's tax classification hearing Wednesday, the board approved a rate that would increase the residential rate by 84 cents per $1,000 valuation and set a new commercial rate of $25.52 per $1,000 valuation.

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Cheshire Sets Tax Rate at $13.06 for Fiscal 2018

The Selectmen on Thursday set the fiscal 2018 tax rate at $13.06, which is 5.4 percent higher than last year. The single tax rate covers both residential and commercial property.

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McCann School's District Towns Getting Some Funds Back

Some towns in the Northern Berkshire Regional School District are going to see a little bit of relief in their assessments, and others will get turnbacks of transportation funds.

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Pittsfield Approves $156.4M Budget, $22.4 Million In Capital

The City Council approved a $156.4 million operating budget and $22.4 million in capital borrowing. The $156,429,586 for the city and enterprise operations was approved Tuesday and is $39,168 less than the budget preliminarily approved.

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North Adams Passes $40M Budget for Fiscal 2018

The City Council on Tuesday approved a $40 million budget for fiscal 2018. The spending plan, at $39,955,755, is up $501,072, or 1.27 percent, over this year. The main increases are in the school budget, health insurance premiums, pensions and the Community Development Office, and three new hires, including filling vacant posts in Wire & Alarm and inspection.

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Pittsfield Finds Health Insurance Contract Overfunded

The City Council cut another $39,168 from the budget Tuesday night after discovering a union contract had been overfunded. In 2014, then Mayor Daniel Bianchi had negotiated with the Public Employees Committee to switch from the Group Insurance Commission to Blue Cross Blue Shield, which saved the city around $2 million over the course of three years. The city's Public Employees Committee, which is made up of representatives of the city's 15 workers unions, approved a contract with the city o

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Cheshire Will Try to Pass Regional School Budget in July

The Selectmen have tentatively scheduled a special town meeting on Monday, July 17, to try again to pass the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District budget. Officials met with School committee Chairman Paul Butler on Tuesday night to figure out the next steps in the budget process and with coming deadlines, both they and Butler agreed it would be prudent to have a budget in place sooner than later.

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Cheshire Town Meeting Votes Down Regional School Budget

Town meeting rejected the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District's $19.2 million budget and shot down articles aimed at keeping Cheshire Elementary School open. More than 200 voters filled the school's auditorium Monday night for a 3 1/2 marathon town meeting mostly focused on the school and the regional school budget.

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North Adams School Committee OKs $17M Budget, Teacher Contract

The School Committee on Tuesday approved a spending plan of $17,329,082 for fiscal 2018 that is offset by an appropriation of $250,000 from the school choice account. The committee also approved a three-year contract with the North Adams Teachers Association after a brief executive session.

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North Adams Council Accepts Bullett Resignation, Mulls Replacement

The council's Rule 25 sets out a process for filling mid-term vacancies. Candidates can submit letters of interest and qualifications and are given a chance to speak before the council for three minutes. Members may ask questions of the candidates and then take nominations and vote.

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North Adams School Budget Up 2%; Cuts Dozen Positions

The School Committee will vote next week on a fiscal 2018 budget that's up about 2 percent over this year and includes reductions in positions, including the assistant principal at the high school.

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Cheshire Selectmen See Draft Budget for Fiscal 2018

A draft fiscal 2018 budget presented to the Selectmen on Tuesday is up $306,732, a 5.5 percent hike over this year. The Selectmen reviewed the proposed $5,902,686 budget on Tuesday prior to the board's regularly scheduled meeting.

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Williamstown Fire District Budget Down Slightly for FY18

The Prudential Committee on Wednesday sent the voters a budget that reduces the fire district's spending by nearly $10,000. The town will have a chance to approve the district's fiscal 2018 spending plan at the annual Fire District meeting on May 30 two weeks after the annual town meeting.

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Pignatelli Secures Funds for County Initiatives, MassPike Study

State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, secured funding and language for the 4th Berkshire District in the House of Representatives' version of the fiscal 2018 state budget was passed last week.

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Lanesborough FinCom Approves Budget, Cuts Health Insurance Lines

The Finance Committee approved its version of the budget on Monday, but that board's decision to cut close to $50,000 from health insurance lines has the town manager concerned. "I really am concerned about the amount of money being cut out of health insurance," Town Manager Paul Sieloff said. "It is an unnecessary risk."

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North Adams Struggling to Recruit, Retain Police Officers

Low pay and high call volume are making it harder to attract and retain police officers in the city.

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Council Voices Few Concerns Over Pittsfield's Capital Plan

The city's capital plan calls for the replacement of 5,236 street lights to LEDs but some councilors are wondering why a project to light up Tyler Street has not been undertaken. The Tyler Street Business Group petitioned the city in 2014 asking for lights on the North side of Tyler Street at an estimated cost of $500,000. Movement halted on those efforts when the city was accepted in the Transformative Development Program. MassDevelopment is currently in the midst of planning efforts for a r

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Pittsfield School Officials Approve Further Budget Cuts

The proposed school budget has been cut again, raising the number of layoffs to 75.6. However, the teacher's union is foregoing some $300,000 worth of step raises to save some of those jobs. On Wednesday the School Committee adopted a proposed budget of $60,686,338, with the city's share of that being $60,066,338. That is $250,000 less than what was presented at the budget hearing two weeks ago.

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North Adams Eyes Tax Title Sales For Tax Relief, Engineering

The city has a fairly good idea what the increase in its fiscal 2018 budget will be: 1.12 percent, largely driven by health insurance increases, pensions, the school budget and two new positions. But it doesn't yet know how much revenue will come in this year as it pursues some $2.6 million in liens, taxes and interest outstanding. The hope is to use some of those gains to offset taxes and prepare engineering for projects in anticipation of a debt drop-off in 2020.

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Pittsfield Council To Hold Hearing On Capital Improvement Plan

The city is looking to spend some $23.5 million on capital projects next year. Mayor Linda Tyer has submitted a capital budget of $9.1 million for city projects and $14.4 million for water and sewer. The debt incurred from the $9.1 million would be paid for through the city's annual budget while the $14.4 million would come from the enterprise accounts. A public hearing is scheduled for the City Council meeting on Tuesday.

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