Superintendent Jason Mccandless told the School Committee on Wednesday that he is hoping the contentious $64.4 million school budget clears the City Council's final vote but a 1/12th budget is being prepared.
Last week, the City Council had preliminarily approved the entire fiscal 2021 budget except for the $64.4 million school plan that they tossed back to the School Committee for another look. Councilors had expressed concern that the school budget was too tight.
The City Council on Thursday tabled the Pittsfield Public Schools fiscal 2021 budget of $64,493,70 at the conclusion of a four-hour-plus hearing after some technical difficulties brought the meeting to a grinding halt.
The City Council met for day two of budget hearings Thursday night on the proposed $170 million spending plan for fiscal 2021 and preliminarily approved 10 departmental budgets unchanged in just under an hour and a half.
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.
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.
Superintendent Jason McCandless is asking for a $3.4 million increase to the school's budget.
The large 5.7 percent increase comes as Gov. Charlie Baker has proposed a budget that gives the city $3.7 million more in Chapter 70 state aid for schools. The request comes with a number of new initiatives and positions which McCandless said will bolster specific areas the district has identified as problematic areas.
The city will overspend on public safety overtime and snow and ice.
The accounts have been on the watch list for Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood and by halfway through the year the budgets for police and fire overtime are just about spent and snow and ice removal is overspent. Kerwood says the city will have to transfer money from other budget lines to cover those deficits.
Auditor Thomas Scanlon praised the city's bookkeeping.
"This is probably the best condition the city's financial reporting has been in," Scanlon told both the City Council and the School Committee at a joint meeting Wednesday evening.
The city is expecting to have some $6.4 million more in revenue as it builds the fiscal year 2020 budget.
The City Council and the School Committee held its annual meeting to discuss the fiscal state of the city Wednesday night. Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood particularly noted an upward trend in revenues from various sources that will go into the budget planning for next year.
Police and fire overtime continues to be a financial concern.
The two accounts, as well as snow and ice, have been on the city's financial team's radar for a number of years as it seems that those accounts are routinely underfunded and officials have to find money to cover the deficits from other places. That hasn't changed this year as all three accounts are trending above budget.