The City Council on Tuesday approved to continue a split tax rate and to set the commercial shift at 1.71. That will reduce the residential tax rate to $18.62 per $1,000 valuation, down 49 cents over last year, and the commercial/industrial rate at $40.67, down 94 cents from last year.
The Pittsfield school system was particularly a big winner in this year's state budget.
The state's budget includes a $5 million increase for Pittsfield schools over last year. State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier called it a "downpayment" for significant increases to come in the next few years.
The big news in the state's budget is $5.18 billion in Chapter 70 aid for schools, according to state Rep. Paul Mark.
"That is the most in the history of Massachusetts and it is also the biggest increase year over year in this account," Mark said. "I think that is a really positive step toward what we have been working on getting this foundation budget changed."
Funded at $43.1 billion, H. 4000 makes major investments in education, housing, substance use disorder services, health care, and other areas while projecting a more than $476 million deposit into the Stabilization Fund – bringing the fund's balance to more than $3 billion to safeguard the future of vital programs and services.
Mayor Linda Tyer has a tentative plan to get rid of the eyesore of a former Hess gas station on Tyler Street.
In the proposed capital budget, Tyer is seeking funds to purchase the property and turn it into green space. The mayor said on Monday the parcel has been identified as an important piece of redevelopment on Tyler Street and the city has agreed to take ownership, provided the owners are willing to sell.
Mayor Linda Tyer is asking for nearly a $7 million increase in the budget.
The proposed budget will be given to the City Council on Tuesday and a series of budget hearings will be held later in the month. The mayor's proposal calls for a $175,485,414 operating budget budget, which is 3.9 percent more than the current year.
The scale rate would increase from $116.44 to $126.59 that, added with the sticker price of $60, would raise the average family's cost to dispose of waste by $32.81 per year. The administration recommended bag prices be raised 25 cents to $1.25 for small bags and $2.50 for large ones.
Mayor Thomas Bernard presented a draft fiscal 2020 spending plan of $44.3 million on Wednesday that he described as "maintenance budget."
The total to be raised by taxation is $17,768,621, up $247,569 or 1.41 percent over this year.
Superintendent Jason McCandless is scaling back his budget request by about a half million dollars.
McCandless said he had a meeting with Mayor Linda Tyer and Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood since revealing his initial request for a $3.4 million increase to the budget and the three agreed to a lesser number. Particularly, McCandless said the number of new positions, mostly new paraprofessionals, is being scaled back.
The town's Finance Committee has spent the past couple of months reviewing those articles and will wrap up its item-by-item review on Wednesday when it hears from the Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School District (McCann Tech) and three non-profits that are asking the town for help with their operational budgets in fiscal 2020.
After hearing from several teachers at the elementary and high school level who argued against the cut, the six members of the seven-person panel in attendance voted unanimously to restore about $6,000 to the $22.4 million gross operating budget for the three-school, PreK-12 district.