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The City Council on Tuesday approved a fiscal 2019 spending plan of $159,976,645.

Pittsfield OKs $159M Budget Appropriation; $10M In Capital Projects

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Christopher Connell, on the left, pushed for the city to use $1.5 million in free cash.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council gave its final approval on the $167.6 million spending plan for fiscal 2019.
 
The budget calls for a city appropriation of $159,976,645 after the City Council asked for $20,000 worth of reductions from the original proposal. The budget reflects a $2.8 million, or 1.8 percent, increase from the current year.
 
The council also approved the proposed $8,893,000 million general funds capital budget and a $1,627,500 capital budget for enterprise accounts. During budget hearings, the council cut a $65,000 project from the general capital budget to re-carpet Pittsfield High School.
 
Mayor Linda Tyer had also cut out a $2.4 million project to repair sewer lines from the enterprise capital budget after the council failed to get majority support for it. Councilors voiced concern with borrowing even more money for the sewer system after recently approving a $74 million project to upgrade the treatment plant.
 
Commissioner of Public Services David Turocy said the repairs to fix the sewer piping is outside of the plant upgrade and is a part of ongoing effort to reduce extra flow into the plant. But, he said given the circumstances, he is OK with taking this year off from those projects.
 
Further details on the capital budget can be found here.
 
The proposed operating budget is requested to be $148,465,606, which is $3.4 million more than last year, and the enterprise account budgets are eyed to be $11,531,019, which is a $154,524 increase. 
 
Meanwhile, other expenditures will be dropping from $8,331,641 last year to $7,656,831 this year — a decline of $674,810 or 8.1 percent. The other expenditures line consists of a number of items such as assessments, school choice, and other cherry sheet offsets to state aid. Typically these are items charged against the city's state aid prior to disbursement as well as retained earnings from the enterprise funds.
 
But, the biggest issue on Tuesday was the use of free cash. The mayor proposed using $1 million in free cash to offset the tax rate. But Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell pushed to use $1.5 million instead.
 
The use of free cash to offset the tax rate isn't a policy auditors recommend. Auditors say free cash is a one-time revenue source that is not guaranteed to come in at the same level every year. They suggest using it pay for one-time expenses, such as capital projects, or use it to build reserves. In prior years, the council often approved a significant amount of free cash to offset the budget, essentially putting the money toward operations.
 
Last year, Tyer proposed $2.25 million and that faced opposition by the City Council, which felt too much was used. In the fall, Tyer returned to the council and lowered that request. This year, it was the opposite. The mayor said she is making it a policy to save as much free cash as possible instead of putting it into the budget. She said if the revenue targets are off, she'd put forth another order asking for more from free cash to balance the books.
 
The amount of free cash to offset the tax rate has no impact on the spending plan. But, it will be a factor in setting the tax rate in the fall. Tyer said there will be a much clearer picture by then of state aid and revenue. A windfall of state aid could help ease councilors' concerns about the impact the budget will have on tax bills.
 
Connell, however, said he'd rather go the opposite way. He said the council should plan on using $1.5 million and replenish its free cash reserve through a tax lien auction. Particularly, he felt that throughout the budget review there were a significant number of budget lines that were set a number higher than what has historically been spent. For each one of those, a common thread was that the money would fall to free cash and help build reserves or could be used to offset deficits in other budgets.
 
"There were several line items that were historically have been put in with higher dollar amounts and therefore increasing expenses. We also on several occasions underestimated our revenue," Connell said.
 
"Free cash is not free cash. It is what the taxpayers paid last year in their property taxes ... We need to do something for the residents. We have hit them with so many different expenses, proposals, in the last six months."
 
Connell said lowering the tax rate will serve as building reserves because the amount under the tax levy ceiling is considered so by bond rating companies. He added that there are some $4.8 million in tax liens that could be auctioned to bring in extra revenue. 
 
"We can back off some of the tax and replace the free cash with a tax lien sale."
 
Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said no matter the amount of free cash used, the tax rate will still increase. The $500,000 difference in free cash right now would translate to about a $20 annually for the average single-family homeowner. 
 
Ultimately, the majority of the council stuck with the mayor's proposal confident that it can be revisited when the tax rate is set.
 
The revenues will be mostly property taxes to the tune of $87,366,669. The city is receiving $52,437,070 in state aid. Local receipts make up $11,918,370 of the revenue and enterprise funds — water and sewer bills — make up for $11,531,024. The city is expecting $2,980,343 from the Massachusetts School Building Authority. And the city is using, $1,420,000 in other revenue — which is mostly $1 million in free cash to offset the tax rate but also include such things as court fines, bond proceeds, and federal funds.
 
The city had been bumping close to what is known as the levy ceiling, a restriction on how much the city can collect in property taxes. For that, there is no override possibility and just a few years ago, the city was close to hitting that cap. At this time last year, the City Council approved a budget leaving the city just $175,839 short of the cap. 
 
There was a re-evaluation of taxable property that showed increases nearly across the board with an overall 3.5 percent increase in property values. Those increased property values raise the city's levy ceiling and with this proposed budget, the city would be approximately $656,000 under the cap. 
 
"I'm pleased to report that we have witnessed some positive upward trends in our community," Tyer had said to kick off the budget process earlier this year.
 
The mayor said the housing market has been showing high demand for homes in the $150,000 to $250,000 range. Further, she said a recent parcel in the Downing Industrial Parkway that had been sitting on the market for a number of years had not only been sold, but there was a bidding war on it. Those are examples of positive signs for the city's property values, she said.
 
But raising property values isn't the only focus auditors had suggested toward helping the city maneuver from under the ceiling. For years, the city had set aside a couple million dollars of free cash to help keep tax rates lower. Auditors, however, have warned that the city had low reserves, which could hurt the bond rating. The excess levy capacity is seen by bond rating companies as a type of reserve as is free cash.
 
This budget is particularly driven by an increase in health insurance, retirement contributions, long-term debt, and an increase in solid waste collection and disposal control. Those account for more than $3 million worth of increases in fixed costs. The mayor said that for the rest of the budget, 11 of the departments are either level-funded or seeing a cut.
 
The mayor did highlight efforts her administration has taken to mitigate the rising costs. She boasted that her administration has been able to settle seven union contracts, most of which were below similar contracts elsewhere - she had also credited the unions for recognizing the city's financial picture and being willing to help through those negotiations.
 
She also cited the recent six-year agreement with the Public Employees Committee on health insurance, which is estimated to have cut the expected health insurance increase by $1.5 million for the city. 
 
One thing that is drastically different this year budget than last year is that it does not call for layoffs. Last year, the school system was particularly hit by the budget and nearly 70 staff positions were reduced. 
 
Some of those positions are returning with the mayor's plan through the school budget. The city is seeing a $1 million increase in state aid for schools this year. The School Department's proposed budget calls for a $426,531 increase to bring back kindergarten paraprofessionals that were laid off last year and bolster a therapeutic program for certain elementary school children with individualized education plans. The current programs will be brought under one roof at Crosby and then additional staffing will add more structure and focus to those students.
 
"This program will serve students in K-5 by providing a safe, personalized, education experience," Tyer said.
 
The budget also calls for the creation of a new diversity and inclusion program in the personnel department. That focuses on recruiting and retaining a diverse workplace. Similar to the way the school's initiative is offset by an increase in state aid, this initiative is offset by the department's reduction in using assessment centers for civil service positions after using it a number of times this past year to fill top jobs in the Police Department, including the chief.
 
"The budget is more than a spending plan. It is a policy document that supports our mission," Mayor Linda Tyer said.
 
The mission is to build a city filled with compassion, is welcoming, and modern for those who live here now and in the future, the mayor said. However, the city isn't rolling out a significant number of new initiatives as it continues "to be challenged  in the form of the levy ceiling constraint."
 
In the coming year the mayor she will review a comprehensive and independent study of the city's operations which looks for more efficiencies, identify reductions, and possible reorganization of some operations. She also is planning a home improvement program to incentivize residents to improve homes, and thus improve the property values more.
 
"A great deal of work remains in order for us to stabilize our situation," Tyer said. "I'm optimistic that we are on the right path and we will thrive beyond these fiscal constrictions."
 
The City Council reviewed the budget over the course of six sessions. The details from each hearing are available below.

 

Day 1

POSTED: Thursday, May 17, 2018, at 4:00 a.m.


Director of Personnel Michael Taylor fielded a handful of questions regarding salary increases on Wednesday. Of the six budgets reviewed, four of them say overall increases all of which is attributed to the payscales.
The first day of the budget hearings was fairly quick and painless. The City Council approved a half-dozen department budgets without changing any line items.
 
Of the six departments, four of those are proposed to see an increase. However, the increases are all related to personnel. All of the budgets reviewed Wednesday night were either level-funded for non-personnel related expenses or cut.
 
The salaries for employees are either contractually obligated or driven by policies voted on by the City Council.
 
The council did pose some questions to various lines. The city has made a number of changes to its pay scale over the last year years and new contracts were settled. Thus, with different bargaining units, employees moving to different pay scales, and giving some employees cost of living increases, created somewhat of a hodgepodge of percentage increases. 
 
Nonetheless, the City Council quickly approved budgets for the half-dozen departments posing only minor questions.

 

 

Mayor's Office

The mayor's office budget of $207,501 is up by $6,655 from last year. 
 
More than that was increased for salaries for the three positions - the mayor, the director of administrative services, and the executive assistant. Those salary increases total $7,049. The office's budget cuts supplies and travel for a total of $394.
 
The latter two positions both saw a 5.6 percent increase in salary. Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo questioned how that broke down. 
 
Director of Personnel Michael Taylor said that increase is due to the City Council's earlier decision for a cost of living increase for non-exempt employees. The move was made to move the entire salary scale - not for the individual positions. The council had voted across the move the entire management pay scale up by 1.5 percent for last year and 1.5 percent for the upcoming year. 
 
Those increases are added to whatever step increases the employees have been eligible.
 
"It represents the cost of living adjustments as well as a step increase," Kerwood said.
 
Mazzeo voted against the cost of living increases and repeated her objections Wednesday night.
 
"This whole budget is pretty bare bones except for all of these increases in salaries. I feel this is not the best time to be doing this," Mazzeo said.
 
The mayor's salary has seen its first increase since Tyer had taken office and shows a 2.1 percent increase. The City Council had voted on a policy years ago to increase the position's salary alongside the consumer price index. However, Tyer had not been accepting the raise and hadn't been writing it into the budget. 
 
Last year, Council Vice President John Krol noted that lack of movement in the salary, saying that by not taking the increase that undermined the council's policy intended to keep the position's pay in line with inflation.
 
Account Name 2016  Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Mayor $91,540 $95,000 $95,000 $96,998
Director of Admin Services $53,095 $52,195 $53,092 $56,064
Executive Assistant $38,355 $36,658 $37,285 $39,364
Markets and Advertising $2,000 $500 $250 $300
Supplies $3,500 $3,500 $2,922 $2,775
Travel $5,000 $2,000  $1,297 $1,000
MA Municipal Association $10,200 $11,000 $11,000 $11,000
Total $203,690 $200,853 $200,846 $207,501


City Council

The City Council's budget of $103,892 remains level.
 
Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo posed a question to the advertising budget. That is legal advertisements the state requires the city to post for public hearings.
 
Mazzeo pointed out that so far 83 percent of that budget line had been spent. And she questioned which hearings are required to be paid by the city. City Clerk Michele Cetti said that when it comes to hearings regarding a commercial property, the company pays for those. But, the city pays the cost of such things as Wednesday's notice of a public hearing on the budget. Cetti said the bill to advertise Wednesday's hearing is $212. 
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018  Approval 2019 Approval
Councilors $90,002 $90,002 $90,002 $90,002
Clerk of the City Council $4,000 $4,000 $4,000 $4,000
Clerk of Committees $8,640 $8,640 $8,640 $8,640
Advertising/Marketing $1,250 $1,250 $1,250 $1,250
Total $103,892 $103,892 $103,892 $103,892

City Solicitor

The City Solicitor's budget of $222,007 is increasing by $4,194, which is entirely for the salary increase of the executive legal secretary. For the last two years, the city has been contracting with Donovan and O'Connor for legal services, a switch from previously have an in-house person serving in the role.
 
That contract is set to expire in June. Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell pressed the mayor to put that contract out to bid. But, the mayor said she has no intentions of doing so.
 
"I would think that in order to save the taxpayers money I think it would be a good idea," Connell said. "I think it would be appropriate and show good faith to the taxpayers if we sent it out to bid."
 
The council also questioned the reduction of $1 from the city solicitor salary line and the assistant city solicitor line. Both of those were placeholders because the roles were being filled by the contract but a person hadn't been occupying those roles.
 
Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said that he zeroed those lines out because the positions are still in city code. He said there is no reason to put a dollar there as a placeholder.
 
"For whatever reason, that became a practice but it is not a necessity," Kerwood said.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
City Solicitor $77,472 $1 $1 $0
Assistant City Solicitor $35,218 $1 $1 $0
Executive Legal Secretary $39,210 $39,011 $39,011 $43,207
Tax Title Litigation $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Supplies $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Law Library $11,500 $11,500 $11,500 $11,500
Legal Fees and Court Costs $60,000 $162,000 $162,000 $162,000
Legal Settlements $0 $0 $0 $0
Equipment Maintenance $2,800 $2,800 $2,800 $2,800
Total $228,700 $217,813 $217,813 $222,007

City Clerk

The city clerk's budget of $329,128 is $2,606 more than the current year. All of it is attributed to salary raised for just about everybody in the department. However, the City Clerk and the assistant clerk registrar salaries are decreasing. 
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell motioned to cut the line for city code updates by $3,000 but failed to get the majority of councilors on board. His motion failed 7-4. Connell said only about half of the budget is expected to be spent this year given the actuals so far. City Clerk Michele Cetti, however, said that figure is difficult to predict from year to year.
 
"We don't know how many updates there will be done to the code. It is done periodically. It depends on how many ordinances are passed, that will determine the cost," Cetti said.
 
Connell, however, said he would rather see the line budgeted more closely to the previous year's actuals than overbudgeting and having whatever is left roll into free cash.
 
"I think to overestimate our expenses and at times underestimate our revenues so it goes to free cash, I am not in favor of that. I like to keep things as close as we can without burning bridges," Connell said.
 
Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli questioned election custodians. He said what that $2,754 expense is used for. Cetti said that an extra custodian is required at the polling places during elections in case there are any issues in the building. 
 
"They are city custodians. It is an overtime shift," Cetti said.
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
City Clerk $65,625 $67,264 $68,682 $67,607
Assistant City Clerk $39,090 $40,668 $43,350 $45,104
Head Clerk $34,885 $36,099 $36,634 $37,183
Assistant Clerk Registrar $36,180 $36,483 $36,211 $33,373
Election Officers $34,314 $26,516 $22,932 $24,696
Secretary Board $32,550 $33,862 $31,120 $32,381
Senior Clerk Typist $26,590 $26,980 $28,048 $29,185
Registrars Board $2,400 $0 $0 $0
Licensing Board $2,950 $0 $0 $0
Election Custodians $3,600 $2,600 $2,700 $2,754
Equipment Maintenance $5,424 $6,300 $6,300 $6,300
Election Programming $9,000 $5,600 $4,936 $4,936
Election Rentals $1,200 $900 $705 $705
Education and Training $1,000 $1,500 $1,000 $1,000
Advertising and Marketing $500 $500 $500 $500
City Code Updates $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Records Preservation $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Supplies $23,000 $13,500 $16,404 $16,404
Census $15,000 $15,750 $15,000 $15,000
Total $345,308 $326,522 $326,522 $329,128

 

Council on Aging

The Council on Aging budget of $300,414 is $7,762 more than last year. Salaries for all positions are increasing by $9,159 while other expenses are decreasing by $1,397.
 
Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli,, Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi and Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell both had objections to the salary increase for the director position. That position is seeing a $1,599 increase from $52,010 to $54,509. But, Director Vincent Marinaro is retiring from the job after eight years and a new person will be hired for it. Simonelli and Connell both disliked that whoever is taking the place of the longtime employee will be making more than the retiring Marinaro.
 
Director of Personnel Michael Taylor said that is the base salary for that position and is what Marinaro would be making if he stayed on the job.
 
Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo noticed that the pay increases for various employees are at different percentages. Taylor responded saying that is driven by a combination of factors. Some of the workers have different bargaining groups with different contractual obligations while others are in line for step raises. And yet others fall into the category of non-exempt employees receiving the cost of living increases. 
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Director $52,910 $52,910 $52,910 $54,508
Senior Clerk Typist $30,680 $30,897 $31,180 $32,709
SDC Assistant $22,935 $23,558 $23,558 $25,233
Soc Serv Tech/Custodian $31,440 $31,665 $32,000 $32,867
Soc Serv Tech/Custodian (PT) $25,280 $25,377 $25,377 $25,967
Program Assistant $32,125 $32,125 $32,125 $33,490
Activities Leaders (PT) $21,545 $21,545 $21,545 $22,017
Kitchen Coordinator $22,490 $22,490 $22,490 $23,449
Temp. Labor $4,000 $4,000 $3,382 $3,484
Equipment Maintenance $6,435 $6,435 $6,435 $6,000
Building Maintenance $13,500 $13,500 $13,500 $13,400
Printing $1,300 $1,300 $1,300 $888
Supplies $3,000 $3,000 $2,500 $2,500
Program Expense $24,350 $24,350 $24,350 $23,900
Total $291,990 $293,152 $292,652 $300,414

 


Veterans Services


Veterans Service Office James Clark was the only budget reviewed on Wednesday that is reduced from the prior year.

The Veterans Services budget is decreasing by $31,981.

The $1,051,073 budget is seeing its biggest decrease in program expenses to the tune of $37,750. 

The budget did see an increase in the veterans' agent salary, but a reduction in the administrative assistant salary. It has an increase fo rental expenses and flags but a decrease in office equipment maintenance, supplies, and awards and declarations. 

 

The budget is the only one reviewed on Wednesday night to see an overall reduction.

 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell had nothing but praise the budget requested by Veterans Service Officer James Clark.
 
Connell said the changes to the budget reflect accurate spending for the current year and he believes all budget should more closely align with the actual totals from a previous year.
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Veterans' Agent $48,100 $48,100 $48,100 $52,061
Administrative Assistant $27,235 $28,333 $29,478 $27,112
Temporary Labor $0 $0 $0 $0
Equipment Maintenance $650 $975 $975 $0
Rental Expense $6,700 $6,700 $0 $5,900
Education and Training $0 $0 $0 $0
Flags $2,000 $2,000 $0 $1,500
Supplies $2,000 $2,000 $3,000 $2,000
Program Expense $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $962,250
Award and Declarations $300 $300 $300 $250
Total $1,086,985 $1,088,456 $1,081,853 $1,051,073

 


Cultural Development

The Culture Development budget of $108,558 is increasing by $3,473. The entire increase is for salaries for the director and the administrative assistant to the tune of $4,173. Offsetting that increase somewhat includes $700 worth of cuts to the supplies and telephone budget lines.
 
The City Council passed that without discussion.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Director $52,910 $52,910 $52,910 $55,872
Administrative Assistant $20,480 $29,981 $30,375 $31,586
Tourism Administrator $13,240 $0 $0 $0
Building Maintenance $0 $0 $0 $0
Contractual Services $4,000 $5,000 $4,000 $4,000
Tourism Expenses $12,000 $12,000 $12,000 $12,000
Visitor Center Expenses $1,000 $500 $500 $300
Supplies $3,500 $3,500 $3,000 $3,000
Telephone $800 $800 $800 $800
Travel and Dues $1,500 $1,500 $1,000 $1,000
Equipment Building $0 $0 $0 $0
Total $109,430 $106,191 $104,585 $108,558

Day 2

POSTED: Thursday, May 17, 2018, at 11:18 p.m.
 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — On the second day of budget hearings, Councilors Melissa Mazzeo and Christopher Connell took aim at employee salaries.
 
The City Council overall made no changes to another half dozen departmental budgets Thursday night, but the two councilors posed a number of questions and expressed frustration regarding pay increases for a number of employees. 
 
The council doesn't have the ability to change salaries because it is either contractual or by city policy, which Mazzeo feels limits the council's ability to make reductions to the budget. 
 
"So much of the increase is salary in every one of these budgets," Mazzeo said. "I'm frustrated because so much is out of our hands and there is nothing we can cut."
 
The six departmental budgets reviewed Thursday all had increases for personnel and all but one saw decreases in what it spends on other expenses. And that one budget with an increase in expenses, the increase was related to a newly agreed upon union contract. 
 
The negotiation of contracts is done by the administrative branch of city government. Mayor Linda Tyer said she meets with the union representatives, attorneys, and the Personnel Department to hash out a deal. She said she has settled seven contracts since taking office.
 
"We meet. We establish goals. The other side establishes goals. We come to the table and negotiate," the mayor said when asked about the negotiation process.
 
As a counselor, Mazzeo said she doesn't like that she's being asked to appropriate the funds for those contracts but has no say in the content. 
 
The city had recently approved cost of living increases for management positions, which are applied to the salary scale, specific employees are moving through the step increases, and those step increases are due at different times of the year. That creates a mixture of percentages for the increases for individual line items, which at times can be difficult for councilors to have the ability to verify if those numbers are correct.
 
Meanwhile, Connell was focused more heavily on how department heads use funds freed up by job vacancies. Particularly, he took aim at the Berkshire Athenaeum where the department transferred some $14,000 out of the payroll budget lines and paid for other projects in the current fiscal year. Connell accused Library Director Alex Reczkowski of having a "slush fund."
 
Reczkowski said he had two people leave his department in the middle of the year and the positions weren't filled for a period of time. He worked the shifts when the positions weren't filled and he isn't eligible for overtime. That money wasn't being spent on the two employees. Toward the end of the year, Reczkowski transferred those unspent funds to the unclassified account to move along a backlog of projects, such as new branding, the development of a new website, and cataloging microfilm that hasn't been available to the public.
 
"I worked those hours. The reason I worked them is that I knew the board, the mayor, and everyone involved in the process wanted us to upgrade our website," Reczkowski said.
 
Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said line transfers are common. It does require mayoral approval and a specific reason. But Connell feels the transfers make budgeting much more difficult for the council because it is more difficult to see the true expenses for each line.
 
Nonetheless, the City Council preliminarily approved the budgets for the Health Department, Building Inspector, Personnel, Library, Airport, and Community Development. The details for each budget is available below.
 

 

Health Department

The Health Department is seeing an $11,360 increase in its budget. driven entirely by salary increases. The $471,155 budget is seeing a total of 4.6 percent increase in salaries, accounting for 18,410 more than the current year.
 
To offset some of that, budget lines for phone, education and training, code enforcement, marketing, and property demolitions were reduced by 7,050.
 
Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo questioned a 10.7 percent increase for the salaries of nuisance control officers, feeling that was "a big jump."
 
Health Director Gina Armstrong said that is caused by a change in staffing. The job had opened and one of the department's existing staff members filled it. The existing staff member is able to start at a higher salary step than a new hire. Director of Personnel Michael Taylor added that the provision is part of the union contracts.
 
Councilor At Large Earl Persip asked for clarification on the telephone account. Armstrong said that is for cell phones for some staff members but, in an effort to reduced expenses, a couple of those phones are being reduced.
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Board of Health Director $55,945 $64,023 $64,023 $67,606
Senior Sanitarian $45,584 $45,880 $46,918 $48,822
Inspector of Weights and Measures $0 $0 $0 $0
Animal Inspector $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500
Sanitarians $75,967 $79,725 $83,565 $86,935
Senior Code Enforcement Inspector $43,190 $44,760 $46,918 $48,822
Nuisance Control Officer $29,379 $29,703 $33,279 $36,835
Officer Manager $31,626 $32,780 $34,956 $37,745
Public Health Nurse $41,001 $49,300 $48,920 $51,659
Administrative Assistant $25,578 $26,120 $29,266 $30,831
Board of Health Clerk $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Water Testing $1,200 $1,200 $1,200 $1,200
Uniforms $1,500 $900 $1,200 $1,200
Contractual Services $2,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,500
Telephone $3,450 $3,450 $3,450 $1,500
Equipment Maintenance $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500
Education and Training $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $2,000
Nuisance Abatement $6,000 $7,000 $10,000 $10,000
Code Enforcement $0 $6,000 $4,300 $2,000
Advertising $3,500 $300 $300 $0
Property Demolitions $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $23,00
Medical Supplies $0 $8,750 $7,000 $7,000
Supplies $7,000

$2,000

$2,000 $2,000
Total $431,674 $441,391

$456,795

$471,155

Building Inspectors


Gerald Gardner said inspection revenue is down this  year.
The Building Inspectors budget of $383,611 is $13,719 more than the current year. That is almost entirely driven by $12,219 in salary increases. 
 
The newest contract with the union, however, also requires the city to provide steel toe boots, which are required on job sites. Building Inspector Gerald Garner said the budget calls for $1,500 to be placed in the account for that purpose.
 
Council Vice President John Krol asked about revenues. Garner said the department is estimated to bring in about $172,000 less this year than last.
 
He said home renovations are being done less frequently partly because the price for softwoods from Canada had increased, raising the cost of renovation projects, and partly because home sales are lagging across the country. As fewer renovation projects are done, fewer inspections are needed.
 
This year was also the first year the department hadn't had a senior clerk - a position cut last year to the chagrin of Garner. But, Garner says he doesn't attribute the loss of revenues to that. Instead, he said the loss of that position had instead caused some delays in issuing permits.
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Senior Wire Inspector $49,075 $50,851 $52,835 $54,700
Building Commissioner $64,025 $64,022 $64,022 $67,606
Head Clerk $30,975 $32,103 $33,525 $34,900
Senior Clerk $25,935 $26,877 $0 $0
Building Inspectors $136,750 $143,888 $149,205 $152,600
Plumbing and Gas Inspector $45,555 $47,217 $49,305 $51,305
Temporary Labor $7,500 $7,500 $6,000 $6,000
Insurance Deductible $500 $0 $0 $0
Uniforms $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $3,000
Telephone $3,500 $3,500 $3,500 $3,500
Supplies $7,500 $11,300 $10,000 $10,000
Total $372,815 $388,758 $369,892 $383,611

Personnel



 
The Personnel Department's budget is being reduced by $2,497. But, it also is one of the only departments to have a new initiative.
 
The budget calls for a new $5,000 allocation for a diversity and inclusion program. Director of Personnel Michael Taylor said that money will go for expanding the reach of job postings to reach a greater diversity of candidates, recruitment efforts, marketing city employment, creating internship programs, and bringing training and development to current employees.
 
"Recruitment alone can be very expensive," Taylor said.
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell was outvoted in an effort to further reduce the medical expense line. Taylor said that line is used to provide pre-employment physicals, administer drug tests, and sometimes for independent medical exams if there is a worker's compensation or similar dispute. 
 
"This is the one line item in my budget that is really unpredictable from year to year," Taylor said, saying that the level of employee turnover in a given year ranges.
 
But, Connell said this year the department hasn't spent close to the $45,000 budgeted for it. The proposed budget is again at $45,000, after the council reduced it last year from $50,000 to $45,000. But Connell said even that seems to be overbudgeted given the trend. He motioned to reduce that by another $3,000 but was ultimately outvoted.
 
Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo asked why the line for assessment centers was reduced. Taylor said the company charges per position and with the recent hiring of a police chief, the city doesn't need to hold another assessment center for that job this year.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Director of Personnel $64,025 $64,022 $65,623 $69,297
Personnel Technician $35,265 $35,675 $38,099 $40,428
Personnel Specialist $35,420 $0 $0 $0
Training $3,000 $4,500 $4,500 $3,500
Educational Opportunity $3,000 $4,500 $4,500 $3,500
City Physician/ Medical Services $40,500 $60,000 $45,000 $45,000
Online Application Program $4,800 $5,600 $5,600 $5,600
Advertising $2,500 $2,500 $2,000 $2,500
Diversity and Inclusion (new)       $5,000
Postage $85,850 $50,000 $0 $0
Supplies $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $2,500
Assessment Centers $0 $0 $26,000 $19,500
Total $277,360 $229,797 $194,322 $196,825

Airport

The $277,150 budget for the airport is $6,209 more than the current year. Most of that is contractual salary increases but the City Council did question a $1,000 increase for snow removal. 
 
Airport Manager Gloria Bouillon said the line has been underfunded. She said the airport pays for two independent contractors to assist with city staff in clearing the airport after snowstorms. There is some 1.8 million square-feet of pavement on the property and snow removal is an extensive operation.
 
"It is primarily for those two positions who aid in the snow removal of the runways, taxiways, and tenant areas," Bouillon said.
 
Bouillon knows exactly how extensive that removal can be because she had lost two employees during the year and it was just her and the contractors plowing the property. She said most airports use chemicals but the city's budget doesn't allow for that.
 
The council also asked for maintenance, a line that is being reduced by $3,500. Bouillon had asked to level fund that line at $33,500 but it was reduced by the administration to $30,000. Bouillon said those funds are for lighting, fence repairs, pavement, tie-downs and hangar doors.
 
"We continually have deferred maintenance," she said.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Airport Manager $58,204 $58,204 $59,659 $61,460
Assistant Airport Manager $0 $0 $47,755 $49,220
Airport Inspector $45,370 $45,370 $34,155 $39,598
Scheduled Overtime $0 $0 $15,000 $15,000
Commission Clerk $1,560 $1,872 $1,872 $1,872
Contractual Services $11,100 $12,000 $12,000 $12,000
Utilities $55,000 $56,800 $56,800 $56,800
Telephone $1,560 $1,500 $2,200 $2,200
Maintenance $14,500 $15,000 $33,500 $30,000
Snow Removal $8,000 $8,500 $4,000 $5,000
Membership and Dues $0 $0 $0 $1,500
Supplies $2,550 $2,550 $2,500 $2,500
Equipment $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $0
Total $199,344 $203,296 $270,941 $277,150

Berkshire Athenaeum


Library Director Alex Reczkowski said he did the job of two vacant positions until they were filled. 

The library's proposed $1,075,497 budget is an increase of $30,442. 

That budget had led to the testiest conversation of the evening Thursday when Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell took exception to the way Library Director Alex Reczkowski was transferring money from the personnel line to the unclassified part of his current budget - a move that can be done with mayoral approval.

Reczkowski said he had two people leave his department in the middle of the year and the positions weren't filled for a period of time. He filled in on the shifts and he isn't eligible for overtime. That money wasn't being spent on the two employees.
 
Toward the end of the year, Reczkowski transferred the approximately $14,000 of unspent funds to the unclassified account to move along a backlog of projects, such as new branding, the development of a new website, and cataloging microfilm that hasn't been available to the public.
 
"I worked those hours. The reason I worked them is that I knew the board, the mayor, and everyone involved in the process wanted us to upgrade our website," Reczkowski said.
 
Connell, however, raised concern that departments may be budgeting for too many people and then shifting the money to pay for something else. 
 
"It sounds like a slush fund," Connell said.
 
Director of Finance Matthew  Kerwood said the departments budget as if all positions are being filled. If there is a vacancy, then the department doesn't have to expend the funds and with approval, it can be used elsewhere in the budget. Kerwood rejects the idea that the city is funding two salaries when only one position is needed just to have flexibility in the accounting.
 
Council Vice President John Krol defended Reczkowski, saying that is exactly what he'd want the department head to do. He said he wants department heads who will do whatever is needed to accomplish more with the money they have allocated.
 
"I think this is what the taxpayers expect department heads to be able to do," Krol said.
 
The library is also looking to reduce its offerings of newspapers and periodicals. Reczkowski said that budget cut was the library "trying to be all in it together." He doesn't know which subscriptions he'll be dropping but the library is asking readers to let them know what is important to them.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Senior Supervisors $193,165 $190,949 $195,763 $192,982
Supervisor Specialist $45,105 $47,323 $36,820 $38,605
Supervisor Specialist $116,590 $123,986 $121,997 $126,594
Library Assistant II $48,305 $51,324 $63,528 $65,149
Senior Technicians $97,344 $102,504 $106,373 $106,929
Senior Assistants $67,098 $76,210 $81,194 $91,302
Director of Athenaeum $78,337 $66,022 $67,673 $70,409
Library Custodians $61,573 $65,320 $64,276 $71,865
Library Assistant I $60,431 $67,950 $65,433 $66,563
Library Technicians $60,113 $63,642 $64,751 $66,565
Library Shelvers $58,733 $57,242 $54,664 $59,014
Equipment Maintenance $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $950
Library Staff Development $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Supplies - General $12,000 $13,000 $13,000 $12,770
Supplies - Custodial $6,000 $6,500 $6,500 $6,450
Binding and Microfilm $2,200 $3,345 $3,648 $3,575
Newspapers and Periodicals $13,000 $13,000 $13,000 $10,000
Books and Audio Visual $75,000 $29,320 $29,365 $29,365
Travel $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Reimbursement ($45,453) $0 $0 $0
Unclassified - Library $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $1,900
Library Networking Fees $43,125 $49,980 $49,980 $50,420
Theft Deterrent System $1,000 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Total $998,666 $1,044,617 $1,044,965 $1,075,407

Community Development

The Department of Community Development's $661,309 budgets $5,629 less than the current year. But the focus for Council At Large Melissa Mazzeo and Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell was on the salaries of two of the top leadership positions - Deanna Ruffer and Jim McGrath. The two are aligned to see and 8.2 and 6 percent salary increase respectively. 
 
Ruffer, Director of Personnel Michael Taylor, and Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood broke the salary increases down to a series of steps accounting for it. The positions are management and therefore are entitled to the City Council's recent approval of a total of 3 percent - over two years - in cost of living increases. Then the staff members are hitting the threshold for another step increase. 
 
For Ruffer, the raise seems at a higher percentage because she started the job making more than the previous director. Ruffer had run the department for a number of years and then returned to the city's employment this past year. When she returned, she started basically where she left off.
 
"If I hadn't left and still had been here, I would have been at the same [salary]," she said.
 
Mazzeo posed a number of questions about the city's pay scale and job classifications. She hoped to have a better understanding of the system so she could more closely follow the pay raises.
 
But ultimately, the budget was approved easily. 
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Director $40,852 $40,851 $41,712 $45,148
Parks Open Space Planner $64,250 $64,001 $64,000 $67,842
City Planner $61,150 $61,150 $60,916 $62,998
Conservation Agent $49,070 $50,851 $52,833 $54,028
Planning Administrator $4,000 $4,000 $0 $0
Administrative  Coordinator $40,456 $40,905 $41,671 $35,853
Business Development Manager $0 $0 $0 $29,071
Community Development Specialist $47,579 $47,579  $50,677 $63,460
Administrative Assistant $6,997 $7,192 $6,381 $6,639
Playground Leaders $18,879 $18,879 $18,356 $17,700
ZBA Clerk $801 $0 $0 $0
Seasonal Labor $17,195 $17,195 $15,000 $14,625
Recreation Coordinator $40,456 $40,905 $41,671 $42,613
Human Services $140,000 $138,000  $107,000 $84,000
Land Use and Zoning $0 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Lake Management $20,000 $35,000 $54,950 $51,950
Supplies $8,000 $8,000 $7,995 $9,000
Recreation Programs $7,000 $7,500 $7,500 $7,300
Downtown Inc. $43,000 $32,250 $24,185 $24,185
Tyler Street Business Group $1,000 $10,000 $2,500 $0
Planning Studies $15,000 $15,000 $5,000 $7,000
BRPC Assessment $0 $0 $33,928 $34,776
Total $625,665 $641,258 $666,938 $660,188
 

Day 3

POSTED: Tuesday, May 21, 2018 at 9:37 p.m

PITTSFIELD, Mass. - The City Council preliminarily approved another four departmental budgets on Monday, including police and fire, two of the larger departments.
 
As it has been for the last few years, the majority of the discussion centered around overtime in the Police Department. Chief Michael Wynn said for years that budget has been underfunded and that is proposed to continue again in fiscal year 2019. 
 
The city had bolstered that account a few years back, raising it from $600,000 to $900,000, and has added additional staffing in the last year. But, the trends are continuing as more than $1 million had already been expended this year.
 
"The entire time I have been the chief that line has been underbudgeted," Wynn said.
 
At the end of every fiscal year, the city's finance team tends to ask for a line item transfer to cover that gap. This year Wynn said the plan is to use some savings saw in the patrol officer budget line to make that up.
 
And that scheduled overtime line isn't the only overtime being expended. The special investigations overtime line was budgeted at $72,000 and the department has already spent $132,000. 
 
"Those are large scale investigations," Wynn said, saying it the largest one this past year was a large human trafficking investigation.
 
Mayor Linda Tyer said the department has been historically underbudgeting and hoping to come in under. This year she said she didn't have the flexibility to change that but increasing the Police Department's budget for that. Nor was she willing to budget to hire more officers to help combat that.
 
"In the course of our discussion from this year, I had to limit the number of new officers that I am comfortable to budget for," Tyer said. "We still have to make slow progress under the circumstances."
 
However, the mayor did say that if the council wants to increase those lines she is willing to revisit the request.
 
Wynn has routinely said the department is understaffed, citing the need for 120 officers. On a given occasion, he said 10 percent of the staff is out so in reality that 120 would be 108 active officers. But, the department has only 89 working officers and has the authorization to only hire up to 99.
 
Two years ago Tyer had proposed an increase in staffing for the department and Wynn has been going through the process since. He said he has a half dozen more officers in the pipeline to be hired. 
 
But, it would be that 120 number he'd be wanting to hit in order to make a real dent in the overtime accounts. He said with those hires he could not only staff the shifts that are needed but could hire detectives to work the weekend whereas now, detectives are called in on overtime for weekend investigations.
 
"Our bureau is not large enough to support having full coverage 7 days a week. We'd have to have three additional personnel to cover those shifts," Wynn said. 
 
The Fire Department, however, has been able to curb its overtime somewhat. Last year the city won a federal grant which pays for eight new officers. That has allowed the department to drop that budget from $700,000 to $400,000. 
 
However, that grant expires at the end of February 2019 and the city will then have to take on that salary. That's leading to a $395,693 increase in the budget for firefighters.
 
"It brought our staffing up to where we can absorb people going on holidays, vacations, sick leave and things like that without having to go to overtime," Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said.
 
That is Okay with Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, who said that'll help keep the firefighters refreshed.
 
iBerkshires has been following the budget discussions. There are more details about each budget line below.
 

RSVP

The $79,061 budget for RSVP is decreasing by $753. The biggest change to the budget is that $853 that had been budgeted for insurance in the membership and dues line is now being transferred to the city's unclassified budget - where the majority of the other insurance items are kept.
 
"It is consistent to what we've done with other insurance matters," Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said.
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell did pose a few questions about some of the smaller lines in the budget. The budget for travel is $1,000 but so far, Connell said on $69 was spent. He wondered if the city even needed a travel line.
 
RSVP Director Jeffrey Roucoulet said that line has historically been spent but this year a national conference in Washington D.C. did not happen and that had been a large driver of that line. He said there is a two-day conference in New Hampshire he will be attended soon which will raise the current year's expense up a bit more.
 
"Sometimes are there more conferences than others, so just in case," he said.
 
Connell then turned his attention to a $2,500 line for volunteer recognition. Again he said less than half of that line was spent and there are only a few weeks left in the fiscal year.
 
Roucoulet said recognizing the volunteers is one of the most important things the department does. In October, the department holds the RSVP volunteer recognition luncheon and that is typically booked around this time of the year. While it appears that not much of the budget has been spent yet, he said more will be expended on that as the planning takes shape.
 
Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo repeated questions about pay increases, as she has during the first two budget hearings as well. The city had made some changes to the pay scale but those aren't uniformly reflected in the budget for various reasons. Mazzeo posed questions trying to figure out how the director's 4.1 percent increase broke down.
 
Kerwood said the position is partly offset by grant funding so that percentage won't reflect the cost of living and step increases evenly because the increase is only on the city's share - not the entire salary. 
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Director of RSVP $34,793 $34,984 $34,984 $36,486
Volunteer Coordinator $15,381 $15,948 $15,753 $14,685
Administrative Assistant $16,910 $18,851 $19,638 $19,703
Membership and Dues $300 $1,121 $1,253 $400
Postage $400 $400 $400 $500
Staff Training $457 $300 $300 $300
Advertising $0 $0 $0 $0
Telephone $350 $6 $6 $6
Supplies $1,900 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Staff Travel $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Volunteer Recognition $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Equipment and Copier Lease $2,947 $1,981 $1,981 $1,981
Total $76,938 $78,591 $79,045 $79,061

 

Police


Police Chief Michael Wynn answered a number of questions about the Police Department's overtime budgets.
The $10,033,243 Police Department budget is increasing by $233,194. The biggest discussion was on overtime, both with detectives investigating big cases or patrolmen filling shifts - as detailed further up in this story. The mayor said she'd be open to discussing raising those overtime budget lines if the council wants. 
 
For the only motion of the evening, Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo attempted to reduce the budget line for the new finance and admin manager job by $37.
 
But, the motion failed by a 7-4 margin - with Mazzeo, Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli, and Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi in favor but all else opposed.
 
The new position isn't so much new but a shift in responsibilities. The department had a job for administrative duties such as payroll and that is now expanding to become a supervisor position. That administrator had often been working weekends to get paperwork filed on time and Police Chief Michael Wynn said on average some $25,000 a year was being paid out in overtime.
 
The employee is now taking an expanded role by handling some duties that a captain had been doing in the past. This new job will include overseeing three immediate workers and two indirectly. The person will also sit on the department's command staff and have a roll in handling such things as discipline.
 
"They're becoming a manager. They are becoming a supervisor. They will be taking on more responsibility," Wynn said.
 
In crafting the position, Wynn had estimated that it would cost about $60,000 and put that into the budget. Once the position worked its way through the Personnel Review Board, the actual step and classification were determined. That would put the starting rate at $59,963, to which Mazzeo motioned to reduce the line.
 
"I just think it should follow the payscale exactly how it is," Mazzeo said.
 
However, Council President Peter Marchetti said that since the employee would be eligible for a step raise in six months to $61,461, that position is actually underfunded.
 
The Auxiliary Police were not funded in this budget. Wynn said the department is "on stand down" at this moment and the funds hadn't been spent for the last couple years.
 
"We will have to reexamine the auxiliary police if we want to stand them back up and look for funds," Wynn said.
 
Mazzeo questioned an unfunded line for limited duty officers. Wynn said that had been created as a placeholder in case an employee was out on leave but could return to work on a limited basis. The salary would just be transferred there.
 
Mazzeo, however, said with a number of people out she wished that line could be used more. But, Wynn said by contract the officers can only come back on limited basis voluntarily. And even then, it can be difficult to get the accompanying documentation needed from doctors. And, thus, the line hasn't been used.
 
The Police Budget isn't seeing a $101,337 reduction in its line for police officers. Wynn said the department has hired a number of new staff members in the last two years. But, there has also been a lot of retirements as well. The newer officers are paid less than those who had been there for years.
 
"The new officers coming in the door are costing us less than the officers going out the door," Wynn said.
 
The council questioned an increase in uniforms. Wynn said in the past the department budgeted for bulk purchasing of uniforms. But, that became difficult. In the most recent contract negotiations, the union agreed to go on a per-officer basis and how much per officer had to be negotiated. The figure was settled higher than Wynn had budgeted last year - but the chief noted it was below what the union was asking.
 
The budget for ammunition is also increasing. The budget had been for bullets but with a recent occurrence, Wynn said there had been requests that the department increases its non-lethal force. The new budget calls for training and equipping more officers with tasers.
 
Mazzeo also questioned some rearranging of the document. For example, the drug enforcement line had been recorded by the Finance Department to comply with accounting standards. The line number had indicated an expense but in reality, it was salaries. There were three lines in the Police Department that were not classified properly by the number and those were switched. 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Police Chief $115,000 $115,000 $115,000 $118,476
Police Captains $248,262 $251,062 $251,062 $261,055
Police Lieutenants $384,362 $398,965 $405,734 $414,243
Police Sergeants $724,849 $872,117 $872,117 $910,212
Safety Officer $65,703 $66,414 $66,414 $69,329
Detectives $451,356 $516,140 $516,140 $516,140
Patrol Officers $3,356,910 $3,720,166 $3,720,166 $3,618,829
Mechanic $48,100 $48,100 $49,662 $52,050
Drug Enforcement $140,315 $180,000 $225,000 $225,000
Dispatchers $523,680 $523,680 $523,680 $523,680
Animal Control Officer $58,460 $58,460 $62,542 $64,963
Special Response Team $12,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Custodian $31,490 $35,306 $37,818 $39,418
Finance and Admin Manager (new)       $60,000
Sr. Clerk Typist/Conf. $115,718 $116,357 $116,668 $77,782
Senior Clerk Typist $68,926 $68,926 $70,256 $72,364
Animal Control Comm Clerk $2,000 $2,000 $1,000 $1,000
Matrons $1,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Temporary Labor $10,000 $15,000 $15,000 $0
Auxiliary Police $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $0
Special Investigation OT $40,000 $40,000 $40,000 $42,800
Special Events OT $150,000 $150,000 $125,000 $120,000
Scheduled Overtime $600,000 $900,000 $900,000 $900,000
Dispatchers OT $81,783 $110,000 $110,000 $110,000
Crime Analyst $46,735 $49,390 $49,390 $52,689
Information/Technology Mgr. $51,291 $51,291 $0 $0
Police Science $1,125,126 $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $1,214,413
In Service $70,000 $70,000 $70,000 $70,000
Insurance Deductibles $15,000 $0 $0 $0
Animal Control Testing Fees $200 $200 $200 $200
Uniforms $30,000 $60,000 $60,000 $86,600
Maintenance/Support $165,000 $185,000 $185,000 $195,000
Police Education $20,000 $20,000 $15,000 $15,000
Shipping/Postage $800 $1,200 $1,200 $500
Printing $2,000 $3,000 $3,000 $2,000
Traffic Enforcement EQ $0 $0 $0 $0
K9 Care and Supplies $5,500 $5,500 $5,500 $5,500
Office Supplies $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Drug Enforcement Expenses $10,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Ammunition $12,000 $15,000 $15,000 $25,000
Special Investigation Expenses $3,000 $4,500 $4,500 $4,000
Care of Prisoners $5,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Custodial Supplies $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Equipment $30,000 $45,000 $45,000 $45,000
Fleet Maintenance $40,000 $45,000 $45,000 $45,000
Total $8,884,566 $9,820,774 $9,800,049 $10,033,243

Fire Department


Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski's budget passed easily.
The Fire Department budget of $7,339,387 is going up by $313,353. The largest driver of that increase is $395,693 for firefighters.
 
The city had a federal grant to hire eight new firefighters. But, that grant is expiring at the end of February and the city will take on those salaries.
 
Other than that, Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo asked about the department's technical rescue operations. That had been cut in the past and Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said recently the department has been getting more involved with a regional group.
 
That is requiring the department to pay more for its firefighters to attend training for such operations.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Fire Chief $99,340 $99,340 $99,775 $103,371
Deputy Fire Chiefs $357,500 $363,103 $363,235 $396,000
Fire Captains $756,472 $1,004,000 $831,669 $897,000
Fire Lieutenants $982,243 $980,000 $1,020,000 $1,088,855
Firefighters $3,527,764 $3,358,000 $3,320,307 $3,716,000
Head Clerk $33,365 $34,575 $32,025 $33,340
Master Mechanic $32,050 $68,470 $68,470 $72,975
Principal Clerk $30,065 $31,016 $32,350 $32,846
Office Manager $37,010 $38,358 $40,203 $42,000
Emergency Apparatus Staffing $30,000 $30,000 $50,000 $30,000
Emergency Manning $550,000 $700,000 $700,000 $400,000
Assuming Additional Response $24,200 $24,200 $30,000 $25,000
Uniforms $88,475 $109,000 $139,000 $120,000
Maintenance General $12,100 $12,100 $13,000 $13,000
Vehicle Maintenance $140,000 $140,000 $140,000 $200,000
Medical Maintenance $13,000 $13,000 $13,000 $13,000
Education and Training $15,000 $15,000 $25,000 $20,000
Arson Investigation $4,000 $4,000 $4,000 $10,000
Supplies $7,500 $8,000 $8,000 $8,000
Equipment $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000
Equipment Replacement $35,000 $35,000 $35,000 $35,000
CAD License/Maint/Admin Fees $26,855 $29,000 $31,000 $53,000
Total $6,831,939 $7,126,162  $7,026,034 $7,339,387

Emergency Management

The $26,400 emergency management budget is level funded. 
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell asked about the emergency operations center, which so far this year hadn't been entirely spent. Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said that money is allocated to maintain space at the Berkshire County House of Corrections in case of a large disaster. He said there is equipment there that needs to be serviced in the next few weeks.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Deputy Director of Emergency Management $2,250 $0 $0 $0
Utilities $1,000 $0 $0 $0
Education and Training $500 $500 $500 $500
Code Red $30,000 $22,500 $23,000 $23,000
Supplies $100 $100 $100 $100
Emergency Operating Center $1,500 $2,800 $2,800 $2,800
Radio Amateur $150 $0 $0 $0
Radio Citizen $150 $0 $0 $0
Total $28,060 $25,900 $26,400 $26,400
 

 

Day 4

Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2018, at 4:01 am.


.

 
School Department
 

Superintendent Jason McCandless presents the budget to the council.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — School administrators could have asked for all of the $2.1 million increase in state aid for education.

But they focused their attention mostly on two new initiatives: to bring back the kindergarten paraprofessionals who were cut from the budget last year and the revamp its therapeutic program.

Those two total $985,000. The rest is eyed to go back to the city's side for the number of services that the schools benefit from those other agencies. The state's Chapter 70 aid for school is increasing by more than $2 million for Pittsfield, which is sent to the city as a revenue.
 
However, even with that increase, the city was over its levy ceiling in earlier drafts of the budget. The mayor's office then agreed to refinance the final payment for the bus fleet, at a cost of $558,469, over the next five years to make the numbers work. 
 
Thus, the School Committee put forth a proposed $61,112,869 total spending plan, $60,491,869 of which will be the city's appropriation. In total, the school's budget is up by $426,531.
 
On Tuesday, the City Council spent just short of 4 1/2 hours culling through the proposal. But ultimately, the council preliminarily approved the request unchanged.
 
Superintendent Jason McCandless spent the first hour of Tuesday's meeting outlining the successes, challenges, and recent changes throughout the district. The district has undergone massive replacement of curriculums, expanded professional development, implemented new interventions, and completely revamped its disciplinary procedures.
 
"We are always working to get better in the Pittsfield Public Schools," McCandless said.
 
The budget proposal does call for expanding on two ongoing projects the district has taken. The budget asks for $50,000 to completely revamp the district's code of conduct and student handbook. And, asks for money to continue looking at the possible consolidation of schools.
 
Last year, a study had been done on the district's size. But, McCandless said he thinks it is too early to close a school yet. He said the most logical way to do that would be to close Allendale and Stearns and have those students attend Morningside. He said Morningside is at well below the number of students it had in the 1990s. But, he has a hard time seeing more than 200 more students at Morningside in this educational environment, where there are significantly more requirements for various students.
 
Nonetheless, McCandless has ratings on the condition of each building, populations, and capacity. Some of those building were renovated with state aid and may need to stay in operation as a school. 
 
"I would suggest the high schools are closer to real consolidation," McCandless said, and Taconic High School was designed to accommodate an expansion if needed.
 
With the way the population is trending, McCandless is asking the School Building Needs Commission to "take a lead" on developing a plan in the future. That could include building new.
 
For example, Crosby is listed as being in the worst condition. But that land has a deed restriction requiring it to be a school and sits on a nice piece of property. He said looking to build larger that and closing other schools is something worth considering. He'd also like to get rid of the open classroom concept at Conte.
 
The population may have been dropping but one of the successes of the district is the number of advanced placement courses being taken, and being passed. McCandless detailed numbers comparing, from just a handful of years ago, the students every demographic not only taking more, but a higher percentage of them passing. The district boasts of having the county's most robust set of AP courses available and emphasis made in recent years to get students to take those courses has proven fruitful. The budget does not call for any layoffs to support those efforts.
 
Yet, despite the course offerings, McCandless said the district is still seeing $2.2 million leave the district and go to charter schools and $2.9 million going to other districts for school choice.
 
"It doesn't make anybody in this room happy. It sickens me every time I get one of those letters," McCandless said. "We know that $5 million price tag is a big bite of the city's finances."
 
McCandless said many times parents send their children out of district without even giving Pittsfield a chance. The district has bolstered its marketing in response. McCandless said the focus is to let the students tell the story of the district and he has been talking with families early to tell them the perks of the city's system.
 
Council President Peter Marchetti said the district since 2014 has seen more money go toward families opting out. But, the number of children choicing out each year has been declining. He hopes that is an early sign that the tide is turning on those choice numbers.
 
Meanwhile, Council Vice President John Krol is calling on the state to make changes to the system — particularly when it comes to the funding of charter schools.
 
"We are subsidizing Lenox schools, subsidizing Richmond, subsidizing BART Charter," he said. 
 
Another costly driver is when students with learning disabilities, severe emotional trauma, and behavioral issues are required to be sent to private schools elsewhere to get the education they need. The city is still required to foot that bill and has seen a $400,000 increase in recent years.
 
The budget calls for $385,000 to hire five new teachers and a program director to head the newly revamped therapeutic program. The district's current program is housed at both Crosby and Morningside. The plan is to bring it all to Crosby, hire a program director, cluster the classrooms, staff each class with two teachers, and have a full-time school adjustment counselor, and full-time behavior technician dedicated to it. 
 
Hiring a program director will open more time for the principals at Crosby and Morningside to focus on managing the building. McCandless said the two principals spent close to half their time with the therapeutic programs and it should be one full-time position. 
 
McCandless said it is partly an effort to not only teach children with severe disabilities better but to also curb those out-of-district placements. He said it is a lot easier to intervene with children at the earlier age and get them back into the traditional programs when they are younger than when they are older.
 
"If we can get in earlier, and get it right, we not only consolidate and make better use of our resources," McCandless said. 
 
Last year, the district eliminated 68 positions, 42 of which were paraprofessionals. McCandless said he regrets that decision and is asking for the ability to hire the 11 for kindergarten classrooms back.
 
The City Council then picked through the budget lines, asking questions about various lines here and there. Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo and Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli felt the line for legal services and settlements was overfunded and a motion to reduce the budget by $5,000 but that was ultimately rejected by the 7-4 margin which has become typical during these budget hearings. 
 
But that had been the only effort made by the council to make adjustments. The rest of the meeting was filled with questions regarding the funding, but McCandless and Assistant Superintendent Kristen Behnke apparently provided sufficient enough answers.
 
Mazzeo, however, didn't want to part with the budget just yet. She said she may be asking to reconsider the move with the buses. The city has the purchase of a new bus fleet in its capital budget for 2023 and Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said he'd be looking to finance the final payment on the current buses until then. That opened some room under the levy ceiling and is hoped to be fully paid off by the next purchase. 
 
The city is still paying for the fleet even before that. Kerwood said that fleet is scheduled to be paid off in 2020.

 

PPS FY19 Line Item Budget by iBerkshires.com on Scribd


 

Day 5: Council Cuts 5K From Enterprise Account 

Posted Thursday, May 31, 2018 at 10:15 p.m.

On the fifth day of budget hearings, the City Council made its first cut. It cut $5,000 from the $468,782 sewer enterprise account, dropping that figure to $463,762.
 
Until that, the council had preliminarily approved the mayor's proposed budget — though there were a number of motions to reduce certain lines that failed by a 7-4 vote. Councilors Christopher Connell, Melissa Mazzeo, Anthony Simonelli, and Kevin Morandi had been repeatedly outvoted on reductions including another proposed cut for the sewer enterprise on Thursday night.
 
However, Connell's motion for the $5,000 reduction received support Thursday as he felt the department had not spent all of its allocation for mains and manhole supplies this year. Commissioner of Public Services and Public Utilities David Turocy said that was likely because the department had a bit of a backlog in stock it could use this year.
 
Nonetheless, Thursday's budget hearings went similar to the other evenings. The council preliminarily approved budgets for building maintenance, public services, and the three enterprise funds — water, wastewater, and sewer. 

Public Services


Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities David Turocy answered a number of questions about his budgets.
The Department of Public Services budget of $7,966,737 reflects a $57,089 decrease over the current year.
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell attempted to reduce the line for landfill monitoring by $25,000 to more closely match with historic trends. However, the majority — seven councilors — weren't supportive.
 
The council can only adjust the total allocation to the department, not individual lines. So while the landfill monitoring line may appear to be overfunded based on historical trends, the snow and ice budget is significantly underfunded based on historical trends.
 
The seven city councilors who voted against Connell's motion said if anything, the suggested $25,000 cut should instead simply be moved to the snow and ice budget to cover the anticipated deficit.
 
"We know historically it has been one to two million dollars and we are budgeting for half," Council President Peter Marchetti said.
 
The budget calls for $700,000 for salt and sand for the roads, but historically that's been as high as $2 million. The city is allowed to deficit spend in snow and ice and ultimately it could be made up for the following year. Instead, when the city closed out the books in recent years, it transferred leftover money from other department lines and even other departments to cover the deficit. 
 
Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli questioned a new position for parks leader. Turocy said it isn't a new person but rather paying one of the field workers for the responsibilities he currently has. Turocy said one worker is charged with being the main person responsible for any projects in a city park.
 
"He's essentially a foreman but the scope of the job is not a foreman," Turocy said. "When there is a job on the park, he is the person who is mainly responsible for it. There is no increase in the personnel."
 
Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo followed that question up with a similar one. The budget eliminates a senior clerk typist but adds an administrative assistant. 
 
Turocy said when the Parks Department merged with the Department of Public Services, the senior clerk typist ended up taking on expanded duties. Those expanded duties made her more of an administrative assistant than a typist.
 
Mazzeo then questioned the increase for solid waste collection and disposal. Last week, the council was told that the price was going to increase by $94,000. But, the budget only shows a $73,000 increase. Turocy said when he submitted the budget for the current year, he wrote in a 2.5 percent increase. Then the mayor signed an agreement on the trash collection piece (one of three solid waste collection and disposal lines) keeping the costs level. 
 
"Our starting point is actually 2.5 percent higher than if I had a zero percent increase last year," Turocy said.
 
Turocy also didn't spend much of his money for street sweeping and catch basin cleaning. He said he was waiting for a new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency permit to outline the city's new responsibilities and he was expecting it this current fiscal year. But, it never came and the EPA delayed the issuance until the next fiscal year. He then used the money to cover the deficit in snow and ice.
 
The commissioner added that he heard from councilors that street sweeping is important and he will make sure that at least that work is done with or without the permit.
 
That sort of moving in the budgets what Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers was concerned about when she voted against the $25,000 cut. She said that department is subject to significant changes from year to year. There could be storms, floods, and supply and demand issues raising costs from year to year. 
 
"There is so much fluctuation with what they are trying to deal with. I don't want to take this money out of this budget," River said. "I don't think this is the right department and the right budget to do this with."
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Commissioner of Public Service $1 $87,339 $45,880 $48,449
City Engineer  $72,190 $72,462 $72,000 $75,840
Inspector of Weights and Measures  $40,070 $46,477 $39,146 $45,103
Office Manager $38,890 $40,254 $41,258 $42,296
Jr. Civil Engineer  $39,440 $40,006 $0 $0
Superintendent $59,215 $55,970 $57,330 $61,904
Street Compliance Inspector $53,369 $54,169 $55,650 $60,089
Chief Street Foreman $50,786 $0 $0 $0
Highway Maintenance Craftsman $231,061 $227,228 239,365 $241,263
Parking Garage Manager  $54,182 $53,985 $53,768 $54,977
Parking Control Officers  $56,173 $58,222 $61,055 $63,512
Administrative Assistant  $33,370 $34,708 $35,572 $68,841
Fleet Manager $49,560 $51,548 $51,666 $55,796
Working Foreman $50,786 $51,290 $47,746 $51,546
Motor Equipment Repairman $211,961 $215,183 $229,089 $216,687
MEO-2  $39,586 $41,396 $44,401 $46,365
Parks Lead       $39,768
Parks Craftsman  $0 $0 $45,800 $32,452
Custodian $31,031 $28,707 $28,793 $31,637
Signal Maintainer $44,668 $44,668 $37,000 $35,333
Park Maintenance Men $165,589 $166,889 $127,986 $102,683
Senior Clerk Typist $30,379 $30,901 $31,658 $0
Park Maintenance Superintendent $59,212 $60,099 $61,745 $60,400
Seasonal Labor $30,000 $30,000 $90,000 $90.000
Scheduled Overtime $85,000 $85,000 $125,000 $125,000
Snow/Ice Overtime $100,000 $100,00 $100,000 $100,000
Equipment Operators $216,635 $213,471 $223,096 $224,570
Contractual Services $0 $100,000 $100,000 $
Contractual Allowances $0 $0 $12,500 $10,000
Traffic Signal Maintenance $0 $0 $100,000 $100,000
Utilities $50,000 $80,000 $80,000 $60,000
Street Lighting $450,000 $480,000 $480,000 $430,000
Maintenance $115,000 $115,000 $100,000 $100,000
Collegiate Baseball/ Wahconah Park (PARKS) $10,000 $10,000 $0 $0
Maintenance of School Fields $15,00 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Repairs/Services $55,000 $55,000 $55,000  
Garage Maintenance $200,000 $220,000 $220,000 $220,000
Rental Expense $57,672 $57,672 $71,250 $73,200
Repairs - Streets $288,500 $350,000 $250,000 $250,000
Streetscape Maintenance $25,000 $35,000 $35,000 $35,000
Solid Waste Collection  $1,208,104 $1,220,302 $1,251,889 $1,283,186
Solid Waste Disposal  $972,000 $1,066,000 $1,138,634 $1,161,407
Solid Waste Recycle  $716,400 $722,700 $763,349 $782,433
Household Haz Waste Collection  $8,000 $0 $6,000 $6,000
Landfill Monitoring  $106,000 $106,000 $100,000 $100,000
Sand $550,000 $700,000 $700,000 $700,000
Professional Services  $10,900 $10,900 $10,900 $13,000
Garage Supplies $20,000 $20,000 $20,000 $15,000
Office Supplies $7,000 $7,000 $10,000 $8,000
Supplies  $500 $3,000 $0  
Maintenance of Parks  $88,500 $88,500 $100,000 $100,000
Gasoline and Diesel Oil $500,000 $400,000 $330,000 $300,000
Tree Operations $60,000 $70,000 $75,000 $85,000
Equipment $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Highway and Traffic Supplies $35,000 $35,000 $30,000 $30,000
Total

$3,490,909

(Excluding the lines transferred from other departments)

 $3,957,916

(Excluding the lines transferred from other departments)

$8,014,526 $7,966,737

 


Water Treatment

The Water Treatment Enterprise Fund budget was approved with minimal discussion. The budget is proposed at $5,175,154, which is $128,038 more than the current year.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Commissioner of Public Utilities  $0 $0 $22,940 $24,224*
Water Superintendent $57,772 $60,100 $61,898 $65,048
Administrative Assistant (New) $0 $0 $0 $17,782
Working Foreman $49,304 $51,290 $52,571 $56,345
Sr. Civil Engineer $29,892 $30,340 $30,485 $31,251
Wtr./Swr. Maintenance Person $154,104 $154,312 $164,310 $168,267
GIS Coordinator $29,892 $30,340 $30,485 $31,251
Water Mach. Repairman $76,652 $77,762 $79,618 $83,693
Chief TPO Non-Shift $0 $50,170 $54,170 $58,629
Head TPO Non-Shift $51,548 $0 $0 $0
TPO Non-Shift $187,108 $207,345 $214,855 $241,285
Meter Reader $34,161 $34,666 $36,521 $38,161
Senior Clerk Typist $35,057 $36,292 $38,465 $0
Seasonal Labor $38,400 $38,400 $38,400 $38,400
Overtime $95,000 $95,000 $95,000 $95,000
Contractual Allowances $0 $4,500 $4,500 $5,000
Utilities $370,000 $350,000 $350,000 $350,000
Taxes $140,000 $146,000 $180,000 $170,000
Maintenance $290,000 $300,000 $300,000 $300,000
Contractual Services $200,000 $200,000 $200,000 $200,000
Professional Services $180,000 $180,000 $180,000 $180,000
Supplies $40,000 $40,000 $40,000 $40,000
Chemicals $290,000 $290,000 $290,000 $290,000
Capital Improvements $50,000 $0 $50,000 $50,000
Acquisition of Equipment $75,000 $75,000 $75,000 $75,000
Maturing Debt $670,867 $732,433 $827,088 $1,075,933
Interest on Debt $380,368 $336,362 $671,148 $579,105
Debt Issuance Cost $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Allocation to General Fund $854,865 $949,811 $969,602 $920,004
Total $4,394,963 $4,489,123 $5,047,116 $5,175,154

Sewer Enterprise

The Sewer Enterprise Fund budget was approved at $463,782 after being cut by $5,000.
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell's motion for the $5,000 reduction received support from six other councilors Thursday as he felt the department had not spent all of its allocation for mains and manhole supplies this year. Commissioner of Public Services and Public Utilities David Turocy said that was likely because the department had a bit of a backlog in stock it could use this year.
 
Connell then attempted to reduce the stormwater services by $5,000 as well. But, that didn't get support.
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
 Working Forman $49,304 $44,221 $45,554 $49,803
Wtr./Swr. Maintenance Persons $149,739 $152,170 $153,790 $162,979
Overtime $50,000 $50,000 $50,000 $50,000
Contractual Allowances $0 $1,500 $1,500 $2,500
Utilities $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000
Maintenance $50,000 $40,000 $40,000 $40,000
Stormwater Services $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $18,500
Contractual Services $85,000 $95,000 $95,000 $95,000
Mains and Manhole Supplies $20,000 $20,000 $20,000 $15,000
Total $459,043 $457,891 $460,844 $468,782

Waste Water

The Wastewater Enterprise Fund budget of $5,887,088, which reflects an $18,553 increase. The increase is particularly driven by personnel as that portion of the budget is up by $92,000 — which is offset somewhat by $74,000 in reductions to the expenses.
 
Even more specifically, TPO shifts showed a huge reduction of $134,108 while Head TPO shifts increase by $219,411. That $85,303 difference is reflective of a number of operators receiving grade 6 licenses.
 
Director of Public Services and  Public Utilities David Turocy said a number of the Grade 6 certified operators havs retired in recent years. That left the department short on its ability to fulfill the requirement to have a Grade 6 operation on at all times. The department was calling in retirees to help work shifts.
 
It negotiated an agreement to promote current employees who get the certification. A lot more of those workers did than Turocy had expected.
 
"We saw a large push from people we didn't think would get it," Turocy said.
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, however, thought that was poorly done. He said there only needs to be eight workers with that level of certification and now the department has 13 — essentially paying for higher level employees when they aren't needed.
 
For that reason, Connell voted against the budget.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Comm of Public Works $0 $0 $22,940 $24,224*
Sewer Superintendent $59,212 $61,604 $63,452 $66,663
Administrative Assistant (New) $0 $0 $0 $17,782
Work Foreman Water Machine Repairmen $46,933 $48,819 $44,432 $46,700
Sr. Civil Engineer $29,892 $30,340 $30,485 $31,521
Chemist $53,369 $55,523 $57,191 $60,090
GIS Coordinator $29,892 $30,340 $30,485 $31,521
Water Machine Repairmen $151,905 $151,070 $149,571 $155,258
Lab Technicians $76,503 $71,465 $75,138 $78,545
Chief TPO Shift $52,057 $54,170 $50,541 $53,096
Head TPO Shift $193,843 $194,791 $194,382 $413,793
TPO Shift $329,999 $361,918 $365,698 $231,590
Head TPO Float Shift $81,894 $87,338 $81,223 $41,203
Senior Clerk Typist $30,379 $31,587 $32,536 $0
Electrician (New) $0 $0 $0 $40,000
Seasonal Labor $38,400 $38,400 $38,400 $38,400
Overtime $95,000 $95,000 $95,000 $95,000
Contractual Allowances $0 $6,000 $6,000 $6,000
Utilities $550,000 $500,000 $500,000 $575,000
Chemical Process $230,000 $220,000 $220,000 $220,000
Maintenance $280,000 $260,000 $260,000 $260,000
Sludge Handling $375,000 $375,000 $375,000 $375,000
Contractual Services $110,000 $110,000 $110,000 $110,000
Professional Services $180,000 $180,000 $180,000 $180,000
Supplies $50,000 $45,000 $45,000 $45,000
Capital Improvements $50,000 $0 $50,000 $50,000
Acquisition of Equipment $50,000 $50,000 $50,000 $50,000
Maturing Debt $627,809 $728,981 $1,024,386 $999,323
Interest on Debt $384,403 $442,095 $802,386 $637,281
Debt Issuance Costs $15,000 $25,000 $50,000 $15,000
Allocation to the General Fund $453,772 $847,742 $886,636 $963,322
Total $4,620,962 $5,102,183 $5,868,535 $5,887,088

Maintenance: City

The Building Maintenance Department budget is increasing by $71,347 — half of which can be attributed to a $35,000 increase in electric rates. The total budget was approved at $1,720,651.
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell questioned the elimination of using seasonal labor. He believes using seasonal labor for certain jobs could come at a less expensive cost than paying overtime. 
 
Director of Building Maintenance Brian Filiault said seasonal labor was somewhat of a holdover from when the parking garage fell under his umbrella. Those funds have now been moved to be funded out of the revenue from the parking meter and not the maintenance budget. Filiault said the seasonal labor was used for cutting lawns and cleaning the garage but hasn't been needed.
 
"Last year we didn't use it and going forward we didn't see a need for it," he said.
 
Filiault said he considered possibly using seasonal labor more but most of the work needs licensed professionals and seasonal laborers don't have those licenses and full-time staff members do.
 
Connell then pivoted to the capital budget, saying there is money in that for typical maintenance. For example, the city borrows for asbestos removal every year. Connell felt since that is an ongoing expense, it should be budgeted for instead of borrowed.
 
"It appears to me that these items that are every year occurrence that for whatever reason we are putting in the capital budget, we are kicking the can down the road," Connell said.
 
Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood agrees. He said there were and are a number of annual expenses that have been put into the capital budget over the years and he's been slowly moving those to the annual budget. But, the city can't move them all over at once while still keeping budget increases under control — especially with the city so close to the levy ceiling.
 
"For decades environmental abatements were bonded. For decades boiler repairs were bonded. We decided we were going to stop do that," Kerwood said. "We're going to continue that process so you will see more things drop out of the capital budget ... The more I can get off of capital as it relates to these types of projects, the better off I am going to be and the city is going to be."
 
Councilor Melissa Mazzeo questioned how the new scoreboard at Wahconah Park was purchased. Filiault said the facility falls under his budget and he has a line for municipal buildings. That's where tunds came from.
 
Mazzeo then wondered if there should be a separate line item specifically for Wahconah Park. She said that would help track the city's expenses in order to more closely compare with what the city gets in lease payments. 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Director of Maintenance $67,522 $67,264 $64,022 $69,297
Boiler/HVAC Repairman $43,995 $44,485 $45,846 $48,016
Painter $44,151 $44,652 $43,721 $45,255
Parking Garage Manager (Transferred to Public Services) $54,182 $53,985 $0 $0
Parking Control Officers (Transferred to Public Services) $56,173 $58,222 $0 $0
Working Foreman Craft $44,666 $47,455 $52,311 $54,424
Plumber $87,660 $89,645 $96,023 $100,359
Carpenters $135,428 $133,513 $142,919 $143,670
Principal Clerk $27,913 $33,071 $37,375 $38,887
HVAC Technician $88,526 $90,510 $93,603 $96,630
Custodian $31,031 $32,999 $34,747 $36,322
Custodian (Transferred to Public Services) $0 $28,707 $0 $0
Office Manager $36,093 $42,767 $49,542 $51,547
Electricians $131,823 $132,606 $139,969 $146,744
Seasonal Labor $16,000 $16,000 $10,000 $0
Temporary Labor $0 $0 $40,000 $40,000
Custodial Labor Rentals $30,000 $30,000 $25,000 $25,000
Assistant Director of Maintenance $59,966 $59,737 $0 $0
Utilities $520,000 $520,000 $520,000 $555,000
Repairs Municipal $225,200 $205,200 $239,826 $260,000
Abandoned Property $0 $20,000 $10,000 $5,000
Contractual Allowances $4,800 $4,800 $4,400 $4,500
Repairs/Services Garage (Transferred to Public Services) $55,000

$55,000

$0 $0
Total $1,760,129 $1,810,618 $1,649,703 $1,720,651

Maintenance: School 

The Building Maintenance Department for the schools was level funded at $620,000. The only change is that the department flip-flopped $55,000 from the contratual services line and added it to the supplies line. The department has been shifting to do more work in house rather than contract at prevailing wage.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Contractual Services $257,500 $217,500 $325,000 $270,000
Maintenance Supplies $217,000

$257,500

$295,000 $350,000
Total $475,000 $475,000 $620,000 $620,000
 

 


 

Day 6

Posted Tuesday, June 7, 2018, at 11 a.m.


Director of Finance  Matthew Kerwood's budget was approved without discussion.

The City Council cut another $15,000 from the proposed budget on Tuesday, bringing the total amount of reductions requested to $20,000.

The council agreed to cut $5,000 from bank settlements, following Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood saying he had been working with the city's financial institutions to reduce those costs.
 
And the council opted to cut $10,000 from the contingency, citing a number of other areas in the budget that could have the flexibility to be moved around to cover unanticipated costs. Both of those lines were part of the unclassified budget.
 
Tuesday marked the final budget hearing and the council ultimately voted to preliminarily approve an appropriation of $159,976,645.
 
However, the council couldn't support the amount of free cash that should be used to offset the tax rate. Mayor Linda Tyer had proposed using $1 million but Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell motioned to increase that to $1.5 million.
 
"Free cash is excess tax revenue all the residents pay in every single year that we don't use. Or it is an understatement of our revenues," Connell said. "In reality, these are their funds."
 
The use of free cash to offset the tax rate isn't a policy auditors recommend. Auditors say free cash is a one-time revenue source that is not guaranteed to come in at the same level every year. They suggest using it pay for one-time expenses, such as capital projects, or use it to build reserves.
 
But in the city's case, the budget would not fit under the tax levy ceiling otherwise. That free cash balances the budget. How much the city is under the ceiling also counts as a reserve to bond rating companies, which Connell pointed to as still a way to build reserves. 
 
Connell said residents were hit with a "double barrel shotgun" last year when not only did the tax rate increase but also the re-evaluation raised property values. He sees using more free cash as a way to provide some relief to taxpayers —the extra $500,000 he proposed will translate to an estimated 10 cents off the tax rate. 
 
Seven of his fellow councilors agreed.
 
It won't change the bottom line of the council's $167.6 spending plan but does require less to come from the property tax bills.

Worker's Compensation

Workers Compensation: $675,000
 
The proposed worker's compensation line of $675,000 is $75,000 less than last year. The council passed it as presented but only after Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell kicked the tires on cutting another $20,000 from the funds allocated to injured on duty but he ultimately pulled that back.
 
Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said that line is particularly vulnerable to fluctuations. The number came in lower than budgeted for this year but Kerwood said the city "got lucky."
 
"This year we got lucky. We were able to settle some cases and we changed vendors," Kerwood said, adding that the new administrator of the city's worker's compensation has been more aggressive in getting people off compensation. "I would be concerned to have one year be a trend."
 
The budget was approved as presented.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Compensation Payments $335,000 $335,000 $335,000 $300,000
Medical Payments $225,000 $225,000 $225,000 $225,000
Injured on Duty - Police and Fire $190,000 $190,000 $190,000 $150,000
Total $750,000 $750,000 $750,000 $675,000

Finance and Administration

The council approved the $1,168,595 budget for finance and administration without discussion.
 
The proposed budget is $2,270 less than the current year. The biggest change is a $25,000 reduction in re-evaluation because the city had just completed one and does not need to do another yet.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
IT Manager (Moved to IT budget) $66,670 $67,663 $0 $0
City Accountant $50,661 $59,659 $61,150 $62,999
Administrative Assistant $31,290 $31,755 $32,522 $33,055
Assessors $188,515 $185,340 $185,342 $193,213
Treasurer $85,510 $81,389 $83,424 $88,095
Tax Collector $64,249 $64,246 $62,474 $64,574
Info Systems Specialists (Moved to IT budget) $113,160 $109,756 $0 $0
Assistant Treasurer $39,085 $40,512 $42,615 $43,255
Assistant Tax Collector $40,070 $41,683 $44,319 $45,104
Purchasing Agent $64,249 $64,249 $64,249 $66,188
Deputy Purchasing Agent $37,585 $33,661 $34,379 $35,580
Head Clerk $30,215 $31,316 $32,947 $33,010
Account Clerk-Assessor $31,290 $31,755 $32,522 $33,055
Buyer $32,975 $27,804 $0 $0
Payroll Specialist $39,660 $40,905 $41,981 $35,925
Junior Accountant $41,070 $42,554 $44,768 $46,230
Benefits Analyst $39,660 $40,905 $41,981 $42,611
Principal Clerk Cashiers $51,820 $55,276 $58,794 $59,842
Senior Account Clerks $84,895 $87,688 $97,398 $98,859
Network Administrator (Moved to IT budget) $58,625 $59,498 $0 $0
Tax Collection Services $0 $60,000 $50,000 $60,000
Equipment Maintenance $20,000 $20,000 $15,000 $15,000
Revaluation $120,000 $90,000 $101,000 $76,000
Legal Ads and Subscription $20,000 $15,000 $12,000 $10,000
Supplies $40,000 $40,000 $32,000 $26,000
Total $1,400,254 $1,482,745 $1,170,865 $1,168,595

Information Technology

The proposed information technology budget of $587,709 was approved to be reduced by $11,176.
 
The council passed the budget with only questioning a typo in the previous year's numbers. The proposed budget book listed the current year's number for supplies at $7,000 but in reality, it was $3,000.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
IT Manager   $67,663 $64,824 $67,606
Info Syustems Specialists   $109,756 $168,104 $115,598
Network Administrator   $59,498 $62,957 $125,005
Computer Upgrade and Repair $70,000 $70,000 $70,000 $46,500
Computer License/Support $220,000 $230,000 $230,000 $232,000
Supplies   $3,000 $3,000 $1,000
Total   $543,917 $598,885 $587,709


Unclassified

The unclassified budget of $52,367,939 was the area the council opted to cut $15,000 from — dropping the number to $52,352,939. 
 
The council agreed to cut $5,000 from bank settlements, following Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood saying he had been working with the city's financial institutions to reduce those costs. And the council opted to cut $10,000 from the contingency, citing a number of other areas in the budget which could have the flexibility to be moved around to cover unanticipated costs. 
 
The debate also featured a motion from Council Vice President John Krol to cut $500,000 from the health insurance line to "send a message" that the city wants a seat at the table. The cost for employee health care is determined by Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association and Blue Cross Blue Shield. The city then is just given what the new premiums will be. And it isn't a small part of the budget — the line for health insurance is slightly over $25 million.
 
That is still going up by a $525,000 despite a recent agreement between the city and the Public Employee Committee which cut the proposed increase by $1.5 million.
 
"The problem with that is, is that is not reducing the cost of healthcare to the city. Not only are we tightening our belts at the department level and asking employees to give more. Meanwhile, the cost of health-care continues to go up and up and up," Krol said. "It is absolutely busting our budget."
 
Krol was ultimately the lone vote in favor of cutting it by $500,000. Changing the way insurance rates are set is out of the City Council's control. Should that reduction have gone through, the city would have had to find the extra funds elsewhere in the budget to pay the bill.
 
Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo meanwhile put up a fight against the purchase of a $13,000 sedan for the building inspector's office. The plan is to trade in a 2007 Chevy Colorado with about 31,000 miles on it and purchase the new sedan.
 
Mazzeo, however, said the Colorado should still have more life to it since it has such low mileage. The battle over the purchase of vehicles is one Mazzeo and Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell fight nearly every year, saying the city has too many vehicles and that they are not being maintained properly.
 
Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd River said the council has asked for better fleet management for the last three years and it doesn't seem like the city has complied. While she recognized the need for the new vehicle, she said she'd be willing to vote against it to send a message. Connell is looking for a fleet management plan that tracks where employees are making sure the vehicles are being properly maintained instead of having individual department heads set policies on vehicle usage. Connell added that he sees the vehicles being taken out of the city often on personal use.
 

Fleet manager Jeffrey Howes assured the City  Council that a much more stringent management practice is in place when it comes to city-owned vehicles.
Fleet manager Jeffrey Howes said the city has implemented better policies to manage vehicles and in just a few years dropped its total number from 240 to 220. But there are vehicles like the Colorado that are rotting out. He said the new sedan would be cared for much better.
 
Howes said he's implemented vehicle checklists, opened an account at a car wash to make sure the salt is being washed off and tracks the usage to make sure it is getting its routine maintenance.
 
"We really work hard at this. We have a good plan," he said.
 
He said the plan really evolved in the last couple years because of the council's urging.
 
Ultimately, six out of the 11 councilors agreed to still purchase the sedan, defeating Mazzeo's motion.
 
Connell then turned his attention to long-term debt and principal. Those two combined are going up by more than $1.2 million. Connell pointed those figures out as a shot over the bow to the council's debate of the capital budget. He said the city needs to start scaling back what it borrows.
 
"We can't just every year keep borrowing $8-10 million and add $1 million to principal and interest," he said. "We've got to start saying no to some of these."
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
40U Hearings Officer $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
40U Clerk $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Crossing Guards $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,375
Scheduled Overtime $130,000 $100,000 $15,000 $15,000
Insurance Medicare Coverage $1,010,000 $1,156,751 $1,156,751 $1,156,751
Insurance Health $20,150,000 $21,500,000 $24,500,000 $25,025,000
Health Ins. Mitigation Account $250,000 $300,049 $210,832 $0
Insurance General $1,034,000 $1,034,000 $1,232,134 $1,293,740
Insurance Group Life $82,500 $85,000 $85,000 $85,000
Insurance Unemployment $220,000 $220,000 $300,000 $250,000
Retirement Contribution $11,091,402 $11,612,235 $12,206,474 $13,318,798
Benefits Conversion $400,000 $400,000 $400,000 $400,000
Animal Shelter Management Fee $52,360 $52,360 $52,360 $52,360
Telephone and Internet $125,000 $125,000 $125,000 $125,000
Computer Upgrade and Repair $70,000 $70,000 $0 $0
Computer License and Support $220,000 $230,000 $0 $0
City Audit $95,000 $95,000 $95,000 $95,000
Contractual Services $118,540 $110,000 $110,000 $133,350
Tyler Street Business Group $10,000 $0 $0 $0
Medicaid Services $40,000 $40,000 $40,000 $60,000
Seminars/Travel/Dues $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $27,000
Postage $0 $0 $50,000 $50,000
Bank Service Charges $15,000 $15,000 $20,000 $15,000
Contingency $275,000 $275,000 $245,000 $245,000
Capital Expenditures $230,000 $300,000 $375,000 $375,000
Long-term Debt Principal $7,216,120 $7,714,469 $7,595,982 $7,889,695
Long-term Debt Interest $2,409,090 $2,153,264 $2,392,100 $3,385,196
Short-term Debt Interest $250,000 $337,771 $405,535 $175,000
Debt Issuance Costs $130,000 $100,000 $100,000 $50,000
Allocation from Water ($854,865) ($949,811) ($969,602) ($920,004)
Allocation from Sewer ($453,772) (847,742) ($886,636) ($963,322)
Total $44,519,375 $50,109,098 $49,909,990 $52,367,939

 


Tags: fiscal 2019,   pittsfield_budget,   

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