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Councilors Donna Todd Rivers and Peter White both supported the petition.

Pittsfield Council Asks Mayor For Independent Review of Budgets

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Councilors Anthony Simonelli, Lisa Tully and Nicholas Caccamo.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council asked former Mayor Daniel Bianchi a little over a year ago to bring in an outside consultant to review the city budget to look for reductions.

That didn't happen.

Now the council is hoping new Mayor Linda Tyer will do so.
"I see a lot of departments working as a silo. Our taxes have increased and they will again. I think we need to do our due-diligence and look at all of the city budgets," said Councilor at-Large Kathleen Amuso, who filed a petition asking the mayor hire a Six Sigma or a Lean consultant.
"Are there things we are duplicating on the city side and on the school side? I think there are savings out there if we focus."
Lean and Six Sigma are both data-driven processes aimed for businesses to streamline systems, reduce waste, eliminate duplication, and review purchasing while improving customer service.
Amuso says bringing in an outside consultant to review the city's operations through one of the processes could yield plenty of long-term savings. 
"We need to look at all kinds of ways to consolidate and get the best bang for our buck out there," said Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi.
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell says he agrees with the concept, but doesn't know if the city should pay for a consultant. Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers suggested creating a task force of residents to handle the reviews. 
"I do believe there needs to be an independent review of the budget," Rivers said, adding that there are people in the community with experience in the two types of processes. She said a "well-appointed and thought-out task force should be able to do this."
Councilor at Large Peter White supported asking the mayor to do cost analyses of city departments to make sure the city isn't spending more on a consultant than the amount of savings found. Further, he added that while there could be some savings by changing vendors for products, the city should still buy locally to support businesses operating here. 
The council sent the petition to Tyer's office with a unanimous vote. The petition is the same one that went to Bianchi in December 2014. 
In other business, the City Council accepted a number of grants including $350,000 for the Pittsfield Community Connection program, $95,000 for the senior center, $9,000 traffic enforcement, $4,980 for bicycle and pedestrian safety, $3,500 for trees at Wellesley Park. 
The council was unsupportive of a motion from Amuso to start meetings at 6:30 instead of 7 p.m. and to allow subcommittees the ability to change start times on occasion. 
"People want to get in here, do their business, and get home to their families," Amuso said of starting the meetings earlier.
In some cases, subcommittee member schedules could conflict and she asked for the ability to hold meetings at times other than 7 p.m. That, too, was rejected by the council, with many members saying it would through a monkey wrench into scheduling access to meeting rooms.
"It creates too much of a nightmare to start scheduling around other meetings," White said.
Others said in the rare occasion a special meeting is needed, the ability to change times could make the subcommittees more efficient in operations. But the motion failed 6-5 with White, Morandi, Melissa Mazzeo, Lisa Tully, and Nicholas Caccamo voting against the flexibility. 

Tags: cost savings,   financial consultant,   financial planning,   fiscal 2017,   Pittsfield city council ,   

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Berkshires Receive National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — To help address the crisis, the U.S. Department of Labor today announced the award of more than $1 million in funding for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development to address the impact of the opioid crisis on the local workforce in Berkshire County.
Administered by the department's Employment and Training Administration, the National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Grant will support Massachusetts in its efforts to employ people in positions as recovery coaches, harm reduction specialists, peer navigators and community health workers. The funding will also provide employment and training services to eligible individuals affected by the opioid crisis.
The project will serve the following communities: Adams, Alford, Becket, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Dalton, Egremont, Florida, Great Barrington, Hancock, Hinsdale, Lanesborough, Lee, Lenox, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Ashford, New Marlborough, North Adams, Otis, Peru, Pittsfield, Richmond, Sandisfield, Savoy, Sheffield, Stockbridge, Tyringham, Washington, West Stockbridge, Williamstown and Windsor.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a national public health emergency in October 2017, enabling Massachusetts to request this funding.
Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, Dislocated Worker Grants temporarily expand the service capacity of dislocated worker programs at the state and local levels by providing funding assistance in response to large, unexpected economic events that cause significant job losses.
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