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Pittsfield Council OKs $175M Operating Budget, $11M Capital Plan

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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Below are the budget sessions for fiscal 2020 in order of when they occurred, with the latest first. 

► The first day budget review on Tuesday, May 21, covered City Hall departments, health and inspections. It is available here.

► The second day budget review on Thursday, May 23, included RSVP, the library, information systems, maintenance, community development and the Fire Department. That review can be found here. 

► The third day budget review of the schools on Thursday, May 30, can be found here. The budget is embedded at the end of the article here

► The fourth and final review done on Tuesday, June 4, looked at police, public services, finance and administration and unclassified. It can be found here.

A separate article covering the capital budget, also discussed on Tuesday, June 4, can be found here
 
 
Final Budget Approvals: posted June 14, 2019, at 1 a.m.
 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council approved both the operating budget and the capital budget on Tuesday, June 11,but not before one more match of pickleball.
 
The City Council had voted against borrowing $52,500 to support the construction of new pickleball courts at Springside Park. The mayor returned with a $10.7 million capital order that did not include that — the only change requested by the council.
 
Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo, however, pressed Mayor Linda Tyer on why she didn't pursue it anyway. Mazzeo feels that the council's discussion may have changed the tenor among constituents who perhaps were unsure of the exact location before.
 
"So many people I heard from were so confused on where this pickleball court was going," Mazzeo said.
 
While many were against using the park for the site of the new courts, Mazzeo had emphasized that the location by the Doyle Softball Complex on Benedict Road was ideal. She said that didn't interfere with other uses in the park and the location is already for active use. 
 
Tyer responded that she, too, supported that location, hence why she put forth the proposal. But, she "honored the vote of the City Council." Had she not pulled that from the proposal, there was a risk that the council would vote down the entire order, thus leaving the numerous other projects in the plan unfunded.
 
"I could have sent it back to you with it with the pickleball line item in there but I would have risked losing the entire capital budget," Tyer said.
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell had voted in favor of pickleball at the time. But he was also on the council a handful of years ago when former Mayor Daniel Bianchi and the council fought over a fire truck in the capital budget. In the end, the council did not approve the order and some projects ultimately were delayed.
 
"I didn't want to take out the funding for pickleball courts, there were some other things I was concerned about. But we were on this path five years ago when the capital budget did not get approved and basically there was a standstill," Connell said before voting in favor of the capital budget.
 
Tyer said there could be potential further discussion about moving forward with a project, and that could mean finding a new location. Another capital order could be brought before the council in the future.
 
"I support pickleball, I support the location. That's why I proposed it," Tyer said.
 
Councilor at Large Earl Persip said the location is the only problem and bemoaned that the council was yet again discussing the proposal after a lengthy debate about it already.
 
"You might have an 11-0 vote for pickleball if we moved it from Springside Park, why are we stuck on Springside Park?" Persip said.
 
But Ward 2 Councilor  Kevin Morandi said that was not true because he won't be voting for it anywhere. Morandi believes the city has enough parks that it can't maintain to add more.
 
"Until those needs are met, I can't see spending that money on a new facility we have to maintain," he said.
 
In the end the council approved the capital order. 
 
The council also picked through the operating budget and approved an amended appropriation of $166,599,139. During the budget hearings, the council reduced the water and the wastewater enterprise accounts by $25,000 each. The city solicitor's budget was increased by $2,039.
 
The budget overall is increasing by just short of $7 million. 
 
The budget is broken down into $154,167,742 for the municipal and school operations, and $12,431,397 for the enterprise accounts, for a total of $166,599,139 on total appropriations from the council. Also on the books is another $8,838,314 for other charges, particularly offsets to state aid like school choice and various assessments.
 
The mayor's overall spending plan calls for a $175,437,453 operating budget, which is about 3.9 percent more than the current year. The revenues would come from about $57 million in state aid, $12 million in local receipts, $12 million in enterprise fees, $1.8 million in other revenues collected, $750,000 in free cash, and $91 million in property taxes, according to Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood.
 
The schools are seeing an increase of $2.9 million in the budget in response to the state being expected to release an additional $3.7 million in support. Council Vice President John Krol voted against the budget for the first time in his career as a councilor because he felt more of that aid should have been directed to where it was intended — the schools. He said a lot of people fought hard to get increased support for schools and now, quoting fellow Councilor Helen Moon, the city is "balancing the rest of the budget on the backs of the school."
 
"In 10 years I've never voted against a budget. There have been things I haven't liked from time but not enough to vote against it," he said. 
 
Councilors Anthony Simonelli and Morandi also voted against the budget but for different reasons. All three councilors, however, didn't feel the proposal correctly prioritized certain aspects of operations.
 
Connell voted in favor of the budget but said some of the lines that councilors felt were underfunded were so because the council failed to make enough cuts in other places of the budget to reallocate.
 
"The reason why we don't have the money is because we didn't make any cuts," Connell said. "There was money. Some of us were trying to find it but unfortunately, it didn't get the votes."
 
 
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The City Council wrapped up the fiscal 2020 budget review in a marathon meeting on Tuesday night that ended shortly after midnight.

Day 1 

Posted May 23, 2019 at 4:03 a.m.
 
Pittsfield Budget Review Day 1: Nine of 10 Budgets Approved As Is
 

Mayor Linda Tyer presented the budget to the City Council on Tuesday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The first of four days of budget hearings kicked off Tuesday night with the City Council reviewing the first 10 departmental budgets.
 
The council made zero changes to the $175,485,414 spending plan. Nine of the budgets reviewed were approved as proposed by Mayor Linda Tyer and one was tabled because of an error. The council will review all of the departmental budgets over the course of the next two weeks, which will be detailed as it unfolds. To read more about each budget review on Tuesday, scroll down.
 
Overall, the council is reviewing Tyer's proposal that increases the budget by nearly $7 million for fiscal 2020. The budget is broken down into $154,165,703 for the municipal and school operations, and $12,481,397 for the enterprise accounts, for a total of $166,647,100 on total appropriations from the council. Also on the books is another $8,838,314 for other charges, particularly offsets to state aid like school choice and various assessments. On Tuesday, the mayor said the proposal focuses on investing in her priority areas of public safety, infrastructure, and education but also doesn't leave any area of municipal operations out.
 
"The FY20 budget demonstrates our continued commitment to support areas of public safety, community infrastructure and maintenance, exceptional public schools, and the advancement of economic development," Tyer said. "Every resident from birth to advanced age is represented and served in this budget proposal.
 
The mayor's proposal calls for a $175,485,414 operating budget, which is 3.9 percent more than the current year. The revenues would come from about $57 million in state aid, $12 million in local receipts, $12 million in enterprise fees, $1.8 million in other revenues collected, $750,000 in free cash, and $91 million in property taxes, according to Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood.
 
The mayor said the budget not only keeps all city staff working but also restores some of the positions that were cut a few years ago when the city faced tax levy constraints.
 
The budget for schools is proposed to increase by about $2.9 million and the rest of the municipal budget is proposed to increase by about $4 million. Meanwhile, the city is expecting $2.4 million more in revenues outside of property taxes, particularly driven by an increase in state aid for schools.
 
In a letter to the City Council, Tyer wrote that the biggest drivers of the increase include a $1.4 million hike in health insurance, a $200,524 increase in retirement contributions, and a $188,448 increase in solid waste collection and disposal. 
 
"The level of funding proposed in this budget reflects our commitment to excellence in customer service, our dedication to meaningful community engagement, and our collective desire to do as much as we responsibly can to meet the urgent and varying needs facing Pittsfield today and into the future," the mayor wrote. 
 
She highlighted health insurance on Tuesday saying the six-year health insurance agreement that is currently in the second year is curbing what the potential increases could have been.
 
"The anticipated savings over the six-year agreement will be vital to the long-term stability of the city's finances by gradually shifting more out of pocket costs for direct services such as co-pays to the employees," Tyer said. 
 
She added that the share of the health insurance is also switching from being 85 percent paid by the city to 80 percent paid by the city, with the employees picking up the remaining 20 percent.
 
The school budget is proposed at $63 million — more can be read about the details here (note that budget was scaled back somewhat here) - and the increase is more than offset by an increase in Chapter 70 aid for schools from the state. The city's proposed school budget is calling for a $2.9 million increase while the state is looking to increase its funding by $3.7 million — and perhaps more if the state settles on a number closer to the state Senate's proposal.
 
"Our kids and their families from every corner of our city and from every economic class are counting on us, especially if they have special education and special needs issues," Tyer said. 
 
"Data indicates that the increase in the number of special education students has put pressure on existing systems that are in place to help our special education students achieve their greatest potential. While student enrollment in 2014 to 2018 has declined by 7 percent, the percentage of special education students climbed by 16 percent."
 
The largest departmental budget outside of the schools is the Police Department, which is proposed at $10,899,632. That is $866,389 more than the current year, or 8.6 percent. The raise includes a new line to fund ShotSpotter — the gunshot detection system the city contracted and was hoping to get private donations to pay for but fell short of the total price. That line is proposed at $240,000.
 
The budget is also has a contractual allowances increase of about $150,000 for uniforms and boot issues to officers — a line for uniforms was subsequently reduced by $56,600.
 
The proposal also includes a new line to pay for community outreach overtime. The department has been undertaking many communities policing efforts in recent years but had been on the individual officer's off time or on regular overtime. The new line of $12,500 accounts for those efforts. Scheduled overtime is also proposed to increase by $100,000 — a line that has historically and publicly been noted as being underfunded.
 
The Department of Public Services is the second largest department budget at a proposed $8,076,245. That is $109,508 more than this year, most of which is driven by contractual salary increases.
 
The building inspectors department is looking at a 16.9 percent increase, which equals $64,671. The majority of that increase is simply moving the inspector of weights and measures job back to the budget from the Department of Public Services — and a matching reduction in that budget was made. The department is also adding a part-time senior clerk.
 
Percentage-wise, five departments are seeing greater than a 10 percent increase. 
 
• The Fire Department is seeing the largest overall increase to the tune of $1,050,509. The majority of the increase is contractual salary increases accounting for $998,509.
 
• The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) has a large percentage increase at 13.8 percent but it is a relatively small line in the budget so the increase is $10,906, all of which is related to salary increases for the staff.
 
• The budget calls for a $150,000 increase for maintenance of schools. That is $125,000 for contractual services and $25,000 in supplies.
 
• The Berkshire Athenaeum is proposed to receive a 10.1 percent increase, $108,822, mostly driven by contractual salary increases but also a significant increase in the amount spent on books and audio and visual material.  
 
Three departments will see reduced funding: the city solicitor's office, the airport, and worker's compensation. The city contracts the solicitor services and that amount haven't changed but there is a cut of $4,300 in other expenses. The airport is dropping by $1,960. That is accounted for in a reduction of overtime by $5,000, about $3,000 of which is used in salary increases. Worker's compensation is being reduced by $25,000.
 
The city is also seeing a decrease in long-term debt to the tune of $2,299,695. That savings is mostly offset by the increase in health insurance in the unclassified budget, which overall is seeing a 0.2 percent increase.
 
The mayor is also proposing to apply $750,000 in free cash to the budget to reduce the tax rate. The city has been scaling back the amount it uses to offset the budget each year following the auditor's recommendations.
 
The mayor is also proposing a $10,789,300 capital budget. That budget calls for borrowing for a number of projects, the largest of which is a $2 million reconstruction of Tyler Street and $2.5 million for general street improvements.
 
The City Council will be hosting a series of budget hearings to review each department. iBerkshires will be providing in-depth coverage of the budget during those hearings but for now, the full budget proposal from the mayor's office is available here.
 

Mayor's Office

The Mayor's Office budget of $212,983 was preliminarily approved without discussion. The budget is $5,482 more than last year, all of which is contributed to salary increases for the three positions in the office.
 
Account Name 2016  Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Mayor $91,540 $95,000 $95,000 $96,998 $98,453
Director of Admin Services $53,095 $52,195 $53,092 $56,064 $58,101
Executive Assistant $38,355 $36,658 $37,285 $39,364 $41,354
Markets and Advertising $2,000 $500 $250 $300 $300
Supplies $3,500 $3,500 $2,922 $2,775 $2,575
Travel $5,000 $2,000  $1,297 $1,000 $1,000
MA Municipal Association $10,200 $11,000 $11,000 $11,000 $11,200
Total $203,690 $200,853 $200,846 $207,501 $212,983


City Council


Councilor Melissa Mazzeo objected to a new line to pay for councilors to attend an annual MMA conference, instead suggesting councilors pay out of pocket for it.
The City Council's budget of $106,062 received approval but only after lengthy discussion regarding a new line for education and training.
 
The budget proposal asked for $2,420 in that line, which City Council President Peter Marchetti is eyed to pay for the registration fee for an annual Massachusetts Municipal Association conference. Marchetti said he believes the weekend conference provides a good opportunity for councilors to meet and discuss various issues with elected and appointed officials from communities across the state, take workshops with municipal professionals and attend lectures on various topics.
 
Councilor Melissa Mazzeo, however, believes councilors should be paying for that out of their annual stipends of $8,000 per year instead. 
 
"I think that is what the stipend is for. It was never meant to be lived on," Mazzeo said.
 
Mazzeo said she hasn't been able to attend that particular event in the past but said there are other free opportunities councilors can take to learn the same things. She doesn't think the taxpayers should foot the bill for their education.
 
The conference costs $180 to attend and Councilor Peter White said it provides a big benefit. He said there are break-out sessions to talk about different ideas, and where he first heard about the Complete Streets program, and it nurtures long-lasting connections with other municipalities that may have handled similar issues to what this council is addressing.
 
"Unless we learn new ways of doing things, it is difficult to not do things the way they've always been done," White said.
 
Marchetti added that while the current council has the financial ability to attend, a future councilor may not. He'd like it to be available to all of the councilors.
 
Mazzeo's attempt to reduce the line was rejected by a split 5-5 vote, with her, Christopher Connell, Anthony Simonelli, Kevin Morandi, and Donna Todd Rivers in opposition and Marchetti, White, Helen Moon, Nicholas Caccamo, and Earl Persip in opposition. Councilor John Krol was absent from the meeting.
 
The full budget was passed right after. That budget is up by $2,170, consisting of the new training line and a reduction to advertising and marketing expenses.
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018  Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Councilors $90,002 $90,002 $90,002 $90,002 $90,002
Clerk of the City Council $4,000 $4,000 $4,000 $4,000 $4,000
Clerk of Committees $8,640 $8,640 $8,640 $8,640 $8,640
NEW: Education and Training $0 $0 $0 $0 $2,420
Advertising/Marketing $1,250 $1,250 $1,250 $1,250 $1,000
Total $103,892 $103,892 $103,892 $103,892 $106,062

City Solicitor

The Solicitor's Office budget of $217,707 was tabled on the first day of budget hearings after an error was found.
 
The legal assistant line had not seen any increase in salary, though the employee would be due for a contractual raise, according to Director of Personnel Michael Taylor. The Personnel Department will need to calculate the salary increase and present a new budget.
 
The council revisited the budget on Tuesday, June 6 and approved the bottom line at $219,746 after determining the salary increase would be $2,309. 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
City Solicitor $77,472 $1 $1 $0 $0
Assistant City Solicitor $35,218 $1 $1 $0 $0
Executive Legal Secretary $39,210 $39,011 $39,011 $43,207 $45,246
Tax Title Litigation $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $5,000
Supplies $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $500
Law Library $11,500 $11,500 $11,500 $11,500 $5,000
Legal Fees and Court Costs $60,000 $162,000 $162,000 $162,000 $162,000
Legal Settlements $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Equipment Maintenance $2,800 $2,800 $2,800 $2,800 $2,000
Total $228,700 $217,813 $217,813 $222,007 $219,746

City Clerk

The City Clerk's budget of $359,560 was preliminarily approved with little discussion. 
 
Councilor Melissa Mazzeo questions City Clerk Michelle Benjamin on a few items but all of which were related to the three elections this year. Benjamin said the election will cost more in custodians, ballots, election programming, election supplies, and rental expenses.
 
The total clerk budget is increasing by $30,432, about two-thirds of which is attributed to contractual salary increases and additional election workers.
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
City Clerk $65,625 $67,264 $68,682 $67,607 $70,062
Assistant City Clerk $39,090 $40,668 $43,350 $45,104 $47,036
Head Clerk $34,885 $36,099 $36,634 $37,183 $37,834
Assistant Clerk Registrar $36,180 $36,483 $36,211 $33,373 $34,843
Election Officers $34,314 $26,516 $22,932 $24,696 $35,280
Secretary Board $32,550 $33,862 $31,120 $32,381 $33,775
Senior Clerk Typist $26,590 $26,980 $28,048 $29,185 $30,445
Registrars Board $2,400 $0 $0 $0 $0
Licensing Board $2,950 $0 $0 $0 $0
Election Custodians $3,600 $2,600 $2,700 $2,754 $4,435
Equipment Maintenance $5,424 $6,300 $6,300 $6,300 $3,300
Election Programming $9,000 $5,600 $4,936 $4,936 $9,000
Election Rentals $1,200 $900 $705 $705 $1,050
Education and Training $1,000 $1,500 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Advertising and Marketing $500 $500 $500 $500 $500
City Code Updates $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Records Preservation $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Supplies $23,000 $13,500 $16,404 $16,404 $23,000
Census $15,000 $15,750 $15,000 $15,000 $16,000
Total $345,308 $326,522 $326,522 $329,128 $359,560

 

Council on Aging

The Council on Aging budget was approved without discussion. The $310,074 budget is $9,660 more than last year.
 
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Director $52,910 $52,910 $52,910 $54,508 $59,728
Senior Clerk Typist $30,680 $30,897 $31,180 $32,709 $33,282
SDC Assistant $22,935 $23,558 $23,558 $25,233 $25,675
Soc Serv Tech/Custodian $31,440 $31,665 $32,000 $32,867 $33,443
Soc Serv Tech/Custodian (PT) $25,280 $25,377 $25,377 $25,967 $26,422
Program Assistant $32,125 $32,125 $32,125 $33,490 $34,076
Activities Leaders (PT) $21,545 $21,545 $21,545 $22,017 $22,403
Kitchen Coordinator $22,490 $22,490 $22,490 $23,449 $23,860
Temp. Labor $4,000 $4,000 $3,382 $3,484 $3,485
Equipment Maintenance $6,435 $6,435 $6,435 $6,000 $6,300
Building Maintenance $13,500 $13,500 $13,500 $13,400 $14,000
Printing $1,300 $1,300 $1,300 $888 $1,000
Supplies $3,000 $3,000 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Program Expense $24,350 $24,350 $24,350 $23,900 $23,900
Total $291,990 $293,152 $292,652 $300,414 $310,074


Veterans Services

The Veteran's Services budget was approved without discussion. The $1,072,474 budget is $23,909 more than last year. The largest portion of that is $20,207 for program expenses, the benefits which are given to local veterans.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Veterans' Agent $48,100 $48,100 $48,100 $52,061 $51,102
Administrative Assistant $27,235 $28,333 $29,478 $27,112 $28,165
Temporary Labor $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Equipment Maintenance $650 $975 $975 $0 $0
Rental Expense $6,700 $6,700 $0 $5,900 $6,500
Education and Training $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Flags $2,000 $2,000 $0 $1,500 $2,000
Supplies $2,000 $2,000 $3,000 $2,000 $2,000
Program Expense $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $962,250 $982,457
Award and Declarations $300 $300 $300 $250 $250
Total $1,086,985 $1,088,456 $1,081,853 $1,051,073 $1,072,474

 


Cultural Development

The Cultural Development budget of $115,841 was approved with no discussion. The budget is $7,283 more than last year. The increase is made up of salary increases for the two employees and an additional $5,000 for tourism expenses — marketing and other promotional material. The visitor's center expenses were cut completely from the budget.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Director $52,910 $52,910 $52,910 $55,872 $57,902
Administrative Assistant $20,480 $29,981 $30,375 $31,586 $32,139
Tourism Administrator $13,240 $0 $0 $0 $0
Building Maintenance $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Contractual Services $4,000 $5,000 $4,000 $4,000 $4,000
Tourism Expenses $12,000 $12,000 $12,000 $12,000 $17,000
Visitor Center Expenses $1,000 $500 $500 $300 $0
Supplies $3,500 $3,500 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000
Telephone $800 $800 $800 $800 $800
Travel and Dues $1,500 $1,500 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Equipment Building $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total $109,430 $106,191 $104,585 $108,558 $115,841

 

Health Department

The Health Department's budget was discussed a bit but ultimately no changes were made to the $492,832 budget.
 
Councilor Earl Persip questioned a 15 percent salary increase for an administrative assistant. Health Director Gina Armstrong said that was because the former assistant left and a current employee with a lengthy history of working with the department took the job.
 
"We had a new person take that position this fiscal year. It is a transfer from another city department. She has been working for the city for 12 years so that was the step," Armstrong said.
 
Councilor Anthony Simonelli asked about contractual services rising by 33 percent and Armstrong said that is increases in the contracts with the Berkshire Public Health Alliance which provides the city with public nursing when the city's nurse is unavailable and septic tests with a licensed soil evaluator, a state requirement.
 

Health Director Gina Armstrong explained her budget to the council.
Simonelli prodded further, asking if Tri-Town Health had a role. He remembered earlier this year when a tobacco retailer was caught violating the city's laws by Tri-town and that ultimately led the city's Board of Health to dish out punishment.
 
"Why are they here looking into our businesses?" Simonelli said.
 
Armstrong said Tri-town has a state grant to administer tobacco programs throughout Berkshire County. It runs online training for vendors, has inspectors, and does compliance checks for the city at no cost. 
 
"We still handle the enforcement. They inform us of their inspection results and we handle enforcement," Armstrong said.
 
Simonelli asked why the city couldn't apply for the grant and do the tobacco control for itself. Armstrong said it would be costly because the city would have to hire its own staff, develop the training, and be responsible to provide the service to the rest of the county.
 
"I would rather us tell people what to do than other people telling us what to do," Simonelli responded.
 
The budget was unchanged and is preliminarily approved to increased by $21,677, nearly all of which is related to contractual salary increases.
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Board of Health Director $55,945 $64,023 $64,023 $67,606 $70,062
Senior Sanitarian $45,584 $45,880 $46,918 $48,822 $50,918
Inspector of Weights and Measures $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Animal Inspector $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500
Sanitarians $75,967 $79,725 $83,565 $86,935 $90,663
Senior Code Enforcement Inspector $43,190 $44,760 $46,918 $48,822 $50,918
Nuisance Control Officer $29,379 $29,703 $33,279 $36,835 $38,406
Officer Manager $31,626 $32,780 $34,956 $37,745 $39,371
Public Health Nurse $41,001 $49,300 $48,920 $51,659 $54,605
Administrative Assistant $25,578 $26,120 $29,266 $30,831 $35,489
Board of Health Clerk $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Water Testing $1,200 $1,200 $1,200 $1,200 $1,200
Uniforms $1,500 $900 $1,200 $1,200 $1,200
Contractual Services $2,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,500 $2,000
Telephone $3,450 $3,450 $3,450 $1,500 $1,500
Equipment Maintenance $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500
Education and Training $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $2,000 $2,000
Nuisance Abatement $6,000 $7,000 $10,000 $10,000 $7,000
Code Enforcement $0 $6,000 $4,300 $2,000 $3,000
Advertising $3,500 $300 $300 $0 $0
Property Demolitions $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $23,00 $23,000
Medical Supplies $0 $8,750 $7,000 $7,000 $9,000
Supplies $7,000

$2,000

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

$456,795

$471,155 $492,832

Building Inspectors


 
The Building Inspector's budget of $448,282 drew a lengthy debate over the filling of position of Building Commissioner Gerald Garner.
 
Garner has served in the position for more than a decade and was poised to see a salary increase when the budget was developed. He has since left the position and it remains open. But, the budget number is still associated with Garner.
 
Councilor Christopher Connell pushed to cut out that raise, starting the new commissioner at the same rate Garner had this past year. 
 
The issue isn't quite so straight forward. Garner did have a lengthy history with the city but he had gone most of his time without raises. The City Council had recently made significant changes to the pay scales and raises - implementing a merit process, picking ranges instead of specific numbers a candidate can start at, and providing cost of living raises.
 
The new salary matrix would put a new commissioner would make slightly less than Garner was making  but significantly more than he had been making years earlier. At the same time, the Council opted to increase the salaries fairly recently in hopes for better job attraction and retainment as the salaries trailed other areas in the various professions.
 
As that relates to the budget hearing, some councilors felt leaving the extra $2,456 in the budget would provide the city with more flexibility in being able to attract the right candidate with whatever isn't spent being rolled into free cash at the end of the years. 
 
"I understand the want to reduce the budget but I want to make sure we have enough if we have to entice somebody to come into the job," Councilor Peter White said.
 
Whereas Connell and a few others felt the salaries have already been creeping up across the board and needed to be restricted.
 
"We've already done what we could do and we've already now started giving the cost of living increases, and I was even hesitant to do that," Councilor Melissa Mazzeo said.
 
Eventually, Mazzeo, Connell, Kevin Morandi, and Anthony Simonelli were outvoted on the push to reduced the commissioner's line by $2,456 — the first of what was a trend last year and could be this year in the foursome being consistently outvoted on various measures.
 
Morandi then questioned the addition of a senior clerk. The mayor said it was a position that was cut a few years earlier when the financial picture was grimmer and now she is trying to restore that service.
 
"It really needs another full-time person," said Persip, adding that in his private employment he's had difficulties getting in touch with the building department because it been so busy.
 
The entire budget preliminarily passed 6-4, with Connell, Mazzeo, Morandi, and Simonelli in opposition. The budget is increasing by $64,671.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Senior Wire Inspector $49,075 $50,851 $52,835 $54,700 $56,075
Building Commissioner $64,025 $64,022 $64,022 $67,606 $70,062
Head Clerk $30,975 $32,103 $33,525 $34,900 $34,890
Senior Clerk $25,935 $26,877 $0 $0 $15,350
Building Inspectors $136,750 $143,888 $149,205 $152,600 $158,816
Plumbing and Gas Inspector $45,555 $47,217 $49,305 $51,305 $53,911
Inspector of Weights and  Measures         $41,578
Temporary Labor $7,500 $7,500 $6,000 $6,000 $3,000
Insurance Deductible $500 $0 $0 $0 $0
Uniforms $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $3,000 $3,600
Telephone $3,500 $3,500 $3,500 $3,500 $3,500
Supplies $7,500 $11,300 $10,000 $10,000 $7,500
Total $372,815 $388,758 $369,892 $383,611 $448,282

Personnel



 
The Personnel Department budget of $200,857 passed with little discussion. The budget is increasing by $4,032.
 
Councilor Anthony Simonelli questioned the cutting of medical expenses. Director of Personnel Michael Taylor said the city has implemented proactive measures in hopes to reduce that line and it has shown the be working. He felt this year a little could be trimmed and placed into other areas of his budget that he felt could use bolstering, such as education.
 
"We are taking some practical steps in managing the funding of that line. I felt it was best to move the money elsewhere," he said.
 
The lines for both education and training and educational opportunities — contractually negotiated offerings for employees to further education — have both come in over budget this last year, he said.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Director of Personnel $64,025 $64,022 $65,623 $69,297 $72,518
Personnel Technician $35,265 $35,675 $38,099 $40,428 $42,239
Personnel Specialist $35,420 $0 $0 $0 $0
Training $3,000 $4,500 $4,500 $3,500 $5,000
Educational Opportunity $3,000 $4,500 $4,500 $3,500 $5,000
City Physician/ Medical Services $40,500 $60,000 $45,000 $45,000 $40,000
Online Application Program $4,800 $5,600 $5,600 $5,600 $5,600
Advertising $2,500 $2,500 $2,000 $2,500 $3,000
Diversity and Inclusion (new)       $5,000 $5,000
Postage $85,850 $50,000 $0 $0 $0
Supplies $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $2,500 $3,000
Assessment Centers $0 $0 $26,000 $19,500 $19,500
Total $277,360 $229,797 $194,322 $196,825 $200,857

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Pittsfield Budget Review Day 2: RSVP Budget Sparks Discussion

Posted May 24, 2019 at 3:58 a.m.


Jeff Roucoulet received the longest questioning on Thursday evening.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council preliminarily approved eight additional department budgets on Thursday with most of the discussion being focused on RSVP.

The debate over the Retired Senior Volunteer Program was focused on a 49.2 percent raise for the volunteer coordinator position. Director Jeffrey Roucoulet said there had been high turnover in the position and the position of administrative assistant/bookkeeper and the decision was made to raise both of the salaries. However, some of the city councilors felt the increase was too steep at once.
 
"The wages for those two positions are inadequate. They haven't been updated in many, many years," Roucoulet said.
 
The volunteer coordinator position currently pays $12.56 for a new hire and the city is looking for a person to fill the job now. Roucoulet advocated for $7,230 increase to the city's share of that salary to bring it into the $15 to $18 an hour range. Both positions receive around $7,500 in federal funding for salaries. The budget called for $21,915 for the volunteer coordinator and $23,187 for the administrative assistant — up from $14,685 and $18,272 — which would put both positions in the $30,000 per year range.
 
Councilor Melissa Mazzeo, however, said she doesn't see the position as being a traditional full-time job. She always envisioned it being a retiree making some extra income and serving the community. She said the current salaries reflect those type of employees.
 
"If somebody is coming in and trying to support a family, even that salary is not enough," she said.
 
She also questioned if volunteers in the program can handle the duties.
 
Roucoulet said that isn't how the position operates though. He said it is a full-time city job not restricted to any certain demographic. The program assigns volunteers to help in some 60 non-profits throughout the city and the county and the coordinator plays an important administrative role in making sure all of that goes off without a hitch. He added that the person gives presentations at the Senior Center to recruit volunteers, organizes and runs activities, and sets up projects and programs.
 
"They are pretty much the liaison for RSVP," Roucoulet said.
 
He said there has been trouble keeping people in those positions because move onto higher-paying jobs — such as a recent administrative assistant who transferred to a similar job in the Fire Department for $3 more per hour.
 
"We have a high turnover rate for the volunteer coordinator and administrative assistant," Roucoulet said.
 
Councilor Christopher Connell questioned if the salary is truly what is leading people to leave. He wondered if the increase could have been smaller in an attempt to see if that helps curb the revolving door. Particularly, Connell said the benefits associated with city employment close the salary gap a bit compared to jobs in the private sector or even in other municipalities.
 
"We have outstanding benefits still in this city," he said. "That has basically compensated for being on the low side of the pay scale."
 
Councilor Helen Moon, however, countered by saying that even though the benefits may be good, an employee still needs income to pay their bills. She believes the city should be paying its workers livable wages.
 
"We want to pay our employees something they can live on," Moon said.
 
Councilor Earl Persip added that there are a cost and time associated with training and bringing on new employees so efforts to keep an employee longer does pay a benefit.
 
"I can go work at a fast food place for $15," Persip said to compare the wages.
 
Connell was going to move to reduce the increase in half but a motion to table led to a predictable outcome: Mazzeo, Connell, and Councilor Kevin Morandi were the only opposition. The three have routinely been outvoted.
 
"I can make the amendment again but it is going to be the same vote," Connell said.
 
The RSVP budget took up about half of the meeting and was the first budget reviewed. Things got much easier after with approvals for Information Technology, Berkshire Athenaeum, Building Maintenance, Airport Commission, Community Development, Fire Department, and  Emergency Management passing with relative ease.
 
Below are more details about the discussion on each budget.

RSVP

The RSVP budget of $89,967 is going up by $10,906, which is entirely driven by salary increases to the administrative assistant and volunteer coordinator as detailed above.
 
Beyond a lengthy discussion on those raises, concerns were also raised about the program's work outside of the city. Director Jeffrey Roucoulet said the majority of the work is in Pittsfield but the federal grant requires the program to serve all of Berkshire County. He said there are sites in towns like Stockbridge and Adams for volunteers to work.
 
"We are primarily Pittsfield. We have a few stations throughout the county. It isn't many," he said.
 
The other communities aren't paying for the salaries for those administering the program. A long-standing federal grant pays a portion for the three full-time employees with the city paying the rest. 
 
"Even though the volunteers are going out there, somebody who is directing the volunteers is paid by the taxpayers of Pittsfield," Councilor Christopher Connell said.
 
That aspect was a sticking point for Connell and Councilor Melissa Mazzeo but one the two could overlook because of the limited scope of work being done outside the city. However, the questions were still raised as part of the lengthy debate about the salaries of those three people. Mazzeo recognized the focus was on $7,230 in a $175 million budget but believes every bit counts.
 
"I know when you look at the whole budget it is a minuscule amount what that is what we are up here doing, looking for ways to cut costs," Mazzeo said.
 
In the end, the budget was approved unchanged with Mazzeo and Connell voting in opposition and Councilor Donna Todd Rivers abstaining. The rest of the council was in favor of the budget as proposed.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Director of RSVP $34,793 $34,984 $34,984 $36,486 $36,678
Volunteer Coordinator $15,381 $15,948 $15,753 $14,685 $21,915
Administrative Assistant $16,910 $18,851 $19,638 $19,703 $23,187
Membership and Dues $300 $1,121 $1,253 $400 $400
Postage $400 $400 $400 $500 $600
Staff Training $457 $300 $300 $300 $300
Advertising $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Telephone $350 $6 $6 $6 $6
Supplies $1,900 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,400
Staff Travel $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Volunteer Recognition $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Equipment and Copier Lease $2,947 $1,981 $1,981 $1,981 $1,981
Total $76,938 $78,591 $79,045 $79,061 $89,967

 

Information Technology

The Information Technology budget of $625,043 passed unanimously. The budget is increasing by $37,334 with the largest increases coming from computer licenses and support to the tune of $23,000.
 
Councilor Christopher Connell, who has been hawking over the budget, questioned that increase but was happy with IT Manager Michael Steben's response.
 
Steben said the increase is associated with a 5 percent price hike in the city's accounting program, the IT department is taking on additional public records requirements, and he wants more cybersecurity.
 
"We do want to be investing more in infrastructure security," Steben said. "The attack that are coming from countries all over the world, it doesn't stop."
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
IT Manager   $67,663 $64,824 $67,606 $72,518
Info Syustems Specialists   $109,756 $168,104 $115,598 $124,738
Network Administrator   $59,498 $62,957 $125,005 $125,287
Computer Upgrade and Repair $70,000 $70,000 $70,000 $46,500 $46,500
Computer License/Support $220,000 $230,000 $230,000 $232,000 $255,000
Supplies   $3,000 $3,000 $1,000 $1,000
Total   $543,917 $598,885 $587,709 $625,043

 

Berkshire Athenaeum

The $1,184,229 budget for the Berkshire Athenaeum is proposed to increase by $108,822, mostly driven by annual salary increases, and represents 10.1 percent increase. However, a request for $34,674 more for books and audio-visual material raised some eyebrows.
 
Library Director Alex Reczkowski said the request keeps the library in compliance with state regulations that call for libraries to have 13 percent of the budget dedicated to refreshing and enhancing the items at the library. The substantial increase this year is because the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum and the Board of Trustees are contributing less.
 
Reczkowski said $120,000 was typically contributed to that line from those two sources and that has dropped by a third as those two sources are putting resources aside to take on a massive amount of Herman Melville material.
 
A Melville scholar is donating his life's work of research to the library and it is going to cost money for new shelving and other aspects to preserve it. 
 
"It is the cost of this great gift we are getting," he said.
 
The director said things like that are what the friend's group and trustees would rather spend money on but in recent years they've been called on to fill the gap in the amount of new material the city buys and that 13 percent state requirement.
 
The budget was approved.
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Senior Supervisors $193,165 $190,949 $195,763 $192,982 $201,242
Supervisor Specialist $45,105 $47,323 $36,820 $38,605 $42,269
Supervisor Specialist $116,590 $123,986 $121,997 $126,594 $132,277
Library Assistant II $48,305 $51,324 $63,528 $65,149 $75,587
Senior Technicians $97,344 $102,504 $106,373 $106,929 $110,956
Senior Assistants $67,098 $76,210 $81,194 $91,302 $99,169
Director of Athenaeum $78,337 $66,022 $67,673 $70,409 $74,419
Library Custodians $61,573 $65,320 $64,276 $71,865 $77,788
Library Assistant I $60,431 $67,950 $65,433 $66,563 $77,888
Library Technicians $60,113 $63,642 $64,751 $66,565 $70,202
Library Shelvers $58,733 $57,242 $54,664 $59,014 $68,328
Equipment Maintenance $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $950 $950
Library Staff Development $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Supplies - General $12,000 $13,000 $13,000 $12,770 $12,770
Supplies - Custodial $6,000 $6,500 $6,500 $6,450 $6,450
Binding and Microfilm $2,200 $3,345 $3,648 $3,575 $3,575
Newspapers and Periodicals $13,000 $13,000 $13,000 $10,000 $10,000
Books and Audio Visual $75,000 $29,320 $29,365 $29,365 $64,039
Travel $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Reimbursement ($45,453) $0 $0 $0 $0
Unclassified - Library $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $1,900 $1,900
Library Networking Fees $43,125 $49,980 $49,980 $50,420 $50,420
Theft Deterrent System $1,000 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Total $998,666 $1,044,617 $1,044,965 $1,075,407 $1,184,229

 

Maintenance: City


The City Council said it would like to see additional staffing in Brian Filiault's Building Maintenance budget.
Councilor Donna Todd Rivers considered voted against the Building Maintenance budget of $1,792,460 just to make a point. She doesn't think it is enough.
 
The budget is increasing by 4.2 percent, or $71,809, but Rivers said a staff of 17 is not enough to take care of all of the city's buildings. She said she'd rather see that budget be increased to add workers.
 
"I want to approve it because I believe it is a fair budget given what your department is doing but I feel the need to make a public statement and not approve it because I think you need help," Rivers. 
 
Councilor Earl Persip also had concerns about manpower, particularly in the city's ability to find and retain tradesmen. He particularly cited HVAC technicians as an example saying companies are hiring qualified people in a heartbeat. If the city can't retain its tradesmen, that forces them to outsource the work at more than $100 an hour. The same goes for electricians, plumbers, and other tradesmen, Persip said. He'd like to see the city raise those salaries to remain competitive.
 
"Some of these salaries, you are going to have trouble finding people," Persip said. "You should start pumping this up or you are going to find this empty."
 
Director Brian Filiault agreed that retention of employees is important. He said the staff know the buildings, know the systems and parts, and can be very efficient on the job and that an outside company has a learning curve.
 
"There is a big difference between outside tradesmen and inside tradesmen," he said.
 
Filiault agreed that the staff is currently "buried in work" but they've been effective. However, the city has only one painter who can never get all of the work needed to be done.
 
He is hoping to lessen the workload somewhat and that the city has been upgrading systems to hopefully lower the demand for service.
 
"Everything in these buildings are old and a lot is in need of repairs and a lot is in need of replacement," he said.
 
Councilor Christopher Connell then questioned the purchasing of material. He said years ago he had a meeting with a representative from Home Depot who had a plan to provide the city with supplies, would match prices, and then at the end of the year give the city 2 to 3 percent credit. He felt that would have been a good deal for the city.
 
"It was never explored. They wanted to do business with us," he said.
 
Filiault, however, felt that maybe a bit too good to be true. He said while Home Depot is a vendor and the city will purchase materials from, there are many other vendors the city uses to find the best price and the best quality. 
 
"We search out for the best price. We don't just call a guy because we like them," Filiault said. "We look at multiple vendors for anything we purchase."
 
Nonetheless, the budget was approved as presented.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval   2020 Approval
Director of Maintenance $67,522 $67,264 $64,022 $69,297   $72,518
Boiler/HVAC Repairman $43,995 $44,485 $45,846 $48,016   $46,980
Painter $44,151 $44,652 $43,721 $45,255   $47,798
Parking Garage Manager (Transferred to Public Services) $54,182 $53,985 $0 $0   $0
Parking Control Officers (Transferred to Public Services) $56,173 $58,222 $0 $0   $0
Working Foreman Craft $44,666 $47,455 $52,311 $54,424   $55,803
Plumber $87,660 $89,645 $96,023 $100,359   $106,177
Carpenters $135,428 $133,513 $142,919 $143,670   $150,542
Principal Clerk $27,913 $33,071 $37,375 $38,887   $39,872
HVAC Technician $88,526 $90,510 $93,603 $96,630   $102,001
Custodian $31,031 $32,999 $34,747 $36,322   $38,336
Custodian (Transferred to Public Services) $0 $28,707 $0 $0   $0
Office Manager $36,093 $42,767 $49,542 $51,547   $52,852
Electricians $131,823 $132,606 $139,969 $146,744   $155,081
Seasonal Labor $16,000 $16,000 $10,000 $0   $0
Temporary Labor $0 $0 $40,000 $40,000   $40,000
Custodial Labor Rentals $30,000 $30,000 $25,000 $25,000   $25,000
Assistant Director of Maintenance $59,966 $59,737 $0 $0   $0
Utilities $520,000 $520,000 $520,000 $555,000   $575,000
Repairs Municipal $225,200 $205,200 $239,826 $260,000   $275,000
Abandoned Property $0 $20,000 $10,000 $5,000   $5,000
Contractual Allowances $4,800 $4,800 $4,400 $4,500   $4,500
Repairs/Services Garage (Transferred to Public Services) $55,000

$55,000

$0 $0   $0
Total $1,760,129 $1,810,618 $1,649,703 $1,720,651   $1,792,460

Maintenance: School 

The maintenance budget for schools was approved with no discussion. The budget of $770,000 is $150,000 more than last year with a $125,000 increase for contractual services and a $25,000 increase for supplies.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Contractual Services $257,500 $217,500 $325,000 $270,000 $375,000
Maintenance Supplies $217,000

$257,500

$295,000 $350,000 $395,000
Total $475,000 $475,000 $620,000 $620,000 $770,000

 

Airport

The Airport's budget of $275,190 was approved without discussion. That budget is decreasing by $1,960, with a $5,000 drop in overtime which is partly offset by annual pay increases for the three employees.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Airport Manager $58,204 $58,204 $59,659 $61,460 $61,837
Assistant Airport Manager $0 $0 $47,755 $49,220 $50,696
Airport Inspector $45,370 $45,370 $34,155 $39,598 $40,785
Scheduled Overtime $0 $0 $15,000 $15,000 $10,000
Commission Clerk $1,560 $1,872 $1,872 $1,872 $1,872
Contractual Services $11,100 $12,000 $12,000 $12,000 $12,000
Utilities $55,000 $56,800 $56,800 $56,800 $56,800
Telephone $1,560 $1,500 $2,200 $2,200 $2,200
Maintenance $14,500 $15,000 $33,500 $30,000 $30,000
Snow Removal $8,000 $8,500 $4,000 $5,000 $5,000
Membership and Dues $0 $0 $0 $1,500 $1,500
Supplies $2,550 $2,550 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Equipment $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $0 $0
Total $199,344 $203,296 $270,941 $277,150 $275,190

 

Community Development

The Office of Community Development's budget of $690,716 was approved with little discussion. The budget is going by by 4.4 percent, or $29,407. The annual salary increases for staff drives all of that increase but a small $7,631 cut in non-personnel related expenses offsets the increase somewhat.
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Director $40,852 $40,851 $41,712 $45,148 $46,788
Parks Open Space Planner $64,250 $64,001 $64,000 $67,842 $70,306
City Planner $61,150 $61,150 $60,916 $62,998 $65,286
Conservation Agent $49,070 $50,851 $52,833 $54,028 $55,647
Planning Administrator $4,000 $4,000 $0 $0 $0
Administrative  Coordinator $40,456 $40,905 $41,671 $35,853 $36,553
Business Development Manager $0 $0 $0 $29,071 $30,880
Community Development Specialist $47,579 $47,579  $50,677 $63,460 $87,316
Administrative Assistant $6,997 $7,192 $6,381 $6,639 $6,274
Playground Leaders $18,879 $18,879 $18,356 $17,700 $20,400
ZBA Clerk $801 $0 $0 $0 $0
Seasonal Labor $17,195 $17,195 $15,000 $14,625 $15,000
Recreation Coordinator $40,456 $40,905 $41,671 $42,613 $43,686
Human Services $140,000 $138,000  $107,000 $84,000 $71,750
Land Use and Zoning $0 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Lake Management $20,000 $35,000 $54,950 $51,950 $52,000
Supplies $8,000 $8,000 $7,995 $9,000 $7,500
Recreation Programs $7,000 $7,500 $7,500 $7,300 $7,500
Downtown Inc. $43,000 $32,250 $24,185 $24,185 $29,185
Tyler Street Business Group $1,000 $10,000 $2,500 $0 $0
Planning Studies $15,000 $15,000 $5,000 $7,000 $7,000
BRPC Assessment $0 $0 $33,928 $34,776 $35,645
Total $625,665 $641,258 $666,938 $660,188 $690,716

 

Fire Department

The Fire Department budget of $8,389,896 was preliminarily approved. The budget is increasing by a total of 14.3 percent, or $1,050,509. The majority of the increase is because the city had increased the staff size in recent years through a grant and that grant is expiring and the firefighters are now hitting the city's ledger.
 
The city now pays the salaries of 100 people in the department. Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said he is confident with that size of a department.
 
"I am very comfortable with this number.r I think the city should feel comfortable with it," Czerwinski said.
 
He said the department could use extra staff on some occasions — such as earlier Thursday morning when a large fire broke out on Tyler Street — but those occasions are rare. The increased staffing does help address a long concern of the Council in overtime. The Department is cutting $25,000 out of its overtime budget this year when historically that line had been underfunded on an annual basis.
 
"We have a number of openings right now that we anticipate on filing," the chief said.
 
Czerwinski said the grant still has $200,000 worth which will pay some salaries for this year and will hit the books next year. That extra $200,000 from the federal government was supplemental, he said.
 
Councilor Earl Persip questioned a $25,000 increase for vehicle maintenance. Czerwinski said the price of maintaining fire trucks continues to go up and the increase reflects that. He said the city is on pace with its fleet replacement schedule.
 
"We have a truck right now that is seven years old and we are looking at $10,000 in repairs right now," he said. "We are always going to have problems. These are specialized pieces of equipment. They aren't Chevys and Fords we can take down to the local dealer."
 
Councilor Christopher Connell questioned the line for uniforms, suggesting that with more firefighters there should be a greater cost for uniforms. But Czerwinski said the department had changed its policy in recent years from just giving new uniforms to all to having the firefighters request them. That's led to some not using all of their allotment.
 
"We've noticed a small decrease in those," Czerwinski said.
 
The budget was approved unanimously. 
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Fire Chief $99,340 $99,340 $99,775 $103,371 $98,500
Deputy Fire Chiefs $357,500 $363,103 $363,235 $396,000 $405,279
Fire Captains $756,472 $1,004,000 $831,669 $897,000 $1,134,882
Fire Lieutenants $982,243 $980,000 $1,020,000 $1,088,855 $1,266,635
Firefighters $3,527,764 $3,358,000 $3,320,307 $3,716,000 $4,298,751
Head Clerk $33,365 $34,575 $32,025 $33,340 $35,288
Master Mechanic $32,050 $68,470 $68,470 $72,975 $73,876
Principal Clerk $30,065 $31,016 $32,350 $32,846 $28,821
Office Manager $37,010 $38,358 $40,203 $42,000 $43,864
Emergency Apparatus Staffing $30,000 $30,000 $50,000 $30,000 $35,000
Emergency Manning $550,000 $700,000 $700,000 $400,000 $375,000
Assuming Additional Response $24,200 $24,200 $30,000 $25,000 $20,000
Uniforms $88,475 $109,000 $139,000 $120,000 $122,000
Maintenance General $12,100 $12,100 $13,000 $13,000 $15,000
Vehicle Maintenance $140,000 $140,000 $140,000 $200,000 $225,000
Medical Maintenance $13,000 $13,000 $13,000 $13,000 $15,000
Education and Training $15,000 $15,000 $25,000 $20,000 $22,000
Arson Investigation $4,000 $4,000 $4,000 $10,000 $0
Supplies $7,500 $8,000 $8,000 $8,000 $10,000
Equipment $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $40,000
Equipment Replacement $35,000 $35,000 $35,000 $35,000 $45,000
CAD License/Maint/Admin Fees $26,855 $29,000 $31,000 $53,000 $50,000
Total $6,831,939 $7,126,162  $7,026,034 $7,339,387 $8,389,896

Emergency Management

The $26,400 budget for emergency management remains unchanged from last year and was approved without discussion.
 

 

Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Deputy Director of Emergency Management $2,250 $0 $0 $0 $0
Utilities $1,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
Education and Training $500 $500 $500 $500 $500
Code Red $30,000 $22,500 $23,000 $23,000 $23,000
Supplies $100 $100 $100 $100 $100
Emergency Operating Center $1,500 $2,800 $2,800 $2,800 $2,800
Radio Amateur $150 $0 $0 $0 $0
Radio Citizen $150 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total $28,060 $25,900 $26,400 $26,400 $26,400

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Day 3

Pittsfield Budget Review Day 3: State Aid Bolsters School Budget

Posted May 31, 2019 at 3:58 a.m.

School Department


 
 

State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier said the city can be confident in the House of Representative's budget which provides about $3.9 in additional aid being the "floor."

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — After four hours of discussion, the City Council agreed with the School Committee's proposed $63,481,700 budget.

The budget represents a $2.9 million increase — or 4.9 percent — over the current fiscal year. It comes after the state has proposed to significantly boost the amount it plans to give to the city for Chapter 70 school aid. Gov. Charlie Baker's proposed budget would give the city $3.7 million additional aid.
 
The School Department plans to invest the majority of that increase into a number of areas while giving the city's side of the ledger about $800,000 of that boost to help cover health insurance costs associated with school employees.
 
"We felt like using the majority of the money to go directly to students was the right thing to do ... but in all fairness, a piece of this was to relieve municipalities with health insurance," Superintendent Jason McCandless said.
 
The base of the conversation was the state's funds. In 2015 a state-created Foundation Budget Review Commission delved into the number regarding state aid for schools and found the schools had been routinely underfunded in four particular areas - health insurance, special education, English language learners, and low-income students. The finding was that in those four specific areas the costs had been increasing at a far greater pace than the state was paying. 
 
This summer the state legislature will be undertaking its own debate to completely revamp how the Chapter 70 program allocates funds. Baker got ahead of it to put forth his plan to meet those recommendations over time and that started with funding the cost to educate low-income students at a higher rate and then building from there. That resulted in a windfall — though school officials dislike that term — for Pittsfield to the tune of $3.7 million.
 
That is what the city based its budget on. At first, McCandless proposed a plan to use $3.4 million of that, giving the city the remaining $300,000 but Mayor Linda Tyer reeled him back in a bit. The city's health insurance is going up and Tyer said 62 percent of that is attributed to the schools and wanted a larger piece of the increase to offset that- especially with new positions being added. Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood calculated that increase amount to figure out what that would be and that was incorporated into the ultimate ask.
 
Tyer was also concerned with the reliability of those funds. The state has not yet settled on the figure, how it will be prioritized and will take on a larger look this summer. She said it makes her anxious to spend the money now when it could be reduced in the future.
 
The House of Representatives voted to increase the Chapter 70 formula above the governor's proposal, which would give the city $3.9 million. The state Senate voted for a budget that would give the city a $5 million increase. As of Thursday, the three proposals are in front of the legislature as that process continues.
 
"Your floor is the House budget. I don't think you will go any lower than the House budget. I think it would be ill-advised to go with the Senate budget," state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier told the CityCouncil. 
 
Farley-Bouvier said there is currently a battle in the State House on how to prioritize the funding of those four areas in education. And it is fierce. Even in Berkshire County while Pittsfield is seeing a large increase, other districts are not because they don't have the same numbers. In other districts in the state, officials are pushing hard for the primary focus to be on English language learners because of that population. And others are looking for health care or special education. 
 
But Farley-Bouvier believes that determination will come after the budget so she is confident that Pittsfield will see a significant increase this year as all three branches of government have proposed.
 
"I think the debate about what the formula is going to look like between the House and Senate is not going to happen until after the budget process is finished," she said.
 
Farley-Bouvier and school officials added that the money will be some restrictions. She said the state is going to ensure there is accounting to make sure the schools are spending it on those categories.
 
Nonetheless, the proposals give the schools the largest increase it has seen in years in state aid but had Baker and the legislature prioritized one of those other three areas of concern instead, the city wouldn't have seen such an increase.
 
"In the previous budgets I've presented, and this is my sixth, we've seen increases in Chapter 70 that did not even cover our contractual obligations," McCandless said, saying the governor's $3.7 million which was used in crafting the budget is four or five times the traditional increase.
 

Superintendent Jason McCandless provided a lengthy overview of the budget that is mostly driven by an increase level of state aid.
McCandless crafted a plan with what he'd do with the extra money focused on those aspects — the details of which can be found here — and that was later cut back by about a half million dollars after conversations with the city administration. And now the budget went to the City Council for approval. 
 
Council Vice President John Krol argued for McCandless's original $3.4 million proposal instead. Krol said he was concerned that the state's funds will come with mandates that the district won't be able to meet because it isn't putting enough of the new money where it is intended. He said for years the schools have been underfunded and this is a chance to catch up without costing city property taxpayers anything.
 
"We are contributing less from the city of Pittsfield than we did last year," Krol said, later adding, "It is the least we can do as an administration to invest the dollars that have been delivered specifically for this purpose."
 
McCandless said he could certainly put the money to good use. But also said his proposal is more conservative this year because of the uncertainty in the future.
 
"We felt this was a year to take a middle pathway and err on the side of reason and err on the side of being conservative," McCandless said.
 
But Krol's motion to increase the allocation to $63,991,700 found only a supporter in Ward 1 Councilor Helen Moon, who voiced a similar viewpoint that the state's money is specifically eyed for those areas and praised education as being a key piece of the city's future.
 
"I think this is such a worthwhile investment into our school system," Moon said.
 
Councilor at Large Peter White believes the request put before the council is fair because there are a number of areas in which the city's side of the ledger is supplementing the schools — whether that be the new Taconic High School debt or health insurance, school resource officers, and maintenance of the school buildings — that are not included in the school budget debated on Thursday.
 
"I'm sure the schools would love that additional money but I think for now we see what we can do with the original number," White said.
 
White later added that there are legitimate concerns about what happens should that money not come through. He said in the past the city had the levy capacity to handle unexpected fluctuation in state aid but now, with the levy ceiling not too far away, a half million change could put the city in a bad position. And if the support doesn't come in at such a level next year, then the budget will have to be reduced.
 
"Ultimately, we go backward," Kerwood said when asked what happens in that case.
 
Council President Peter Marchetti remembers a time about a decade ago when exactly that had happened. The city put in for a number of new positions and then the next year there was a budget crunch. The city then had to back out of the investments it had made.
 
"You can't tell me what Chapter 70 is going to be next year but you can tell me you have $1.5 million of increases," Marchetti said advocating to wait until actual numbers are known before committing. "If it isn't sustainable and it is not something we can do, one year of positive sunshine doesn't make up for three years of falling backward after that."
 
Superintendent of Business and Finance Kristen Behnke said year-to-year fluctuations shouldn't be much of a concern. She said only once in the last dozen years had the state reduced the amount it gave the city for Chapter 70 aid but even then it used reserves to "make the city whole." She said every time the state has increased the support, that has become the new base for future funding levels.
 
"It is very rare that a community gets less Chapter 70 money than it had previously," McCandless said.
 
Tyer, however, said next year will be under a completely different formula though so a lot could happen.
 
"We have to proceed cautiously because if we get $5 million this year and the legislature continues to fight, next year we could only get $3 million," Tyer said, arguing for a more reserved approach.
 

Councilor Helen Moon says making the investment in schools is a wise one and believes that's what the state earmarked the funds for.
But, if the city gets more in Chapter 70 as the debate goes in, the budget can be added to. McCandless said if the state comes through with a number higher he'd talk with the administration about funding more of initiatives. Kerwood said the city can make additional appropriations until the tax rate is set in November.
 
"I think I feel comfortable with how this is going. I really want to make sure though that if we were to vote on this tonight and those numbers came in higher then we have that conversation," Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo said.
 
Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli wanted to take the school budget the other way. After Krol's motion to increase the proposal failed, Simonelli urged for a $280,000 reduction, which he said is accounts for about seven of the new positions being added. In all, the district is adding about a dozen new positions with the approval but yet Simonelli said no other department is getting additional help.
 
Simonelli said the top priorities in the city he hears are the conditions of the roads and public safety. Yet, the city isn't adding more police officers and isn't adding more highway, maintenance workers. He added that the Maintenance Department, which maintains the school buildings, are consistently behind and isn't getting additional manpower.
 
The comment irked McCandless who felt Simonelli was being "mean spirited" and said the councilor didn't "cry foul" when the schools issued 40 pink slips a few years back while the Police Department were adding 10 new officers or when the Fire Department accepted a grant for new firefighters who are now being paid for by the city.
 
Simonelli was left on an island as he received no support from the rest of the council. Krol called it "irresponsible" and asked what message it would send to the state if despite asking for years for additional school funding to then leave $1 million on the table.
 
"For me, this is completely irresponsible and ultimately would amount to $1 million less the city is contributing to the budget compared to the current fiscal year," Krol said.
 
Eventually, the council preliminarily approved the School Committee's request unchanged with only Simonelli voting against it.

 

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Pittsfield Budget Review Day 4: Council Cuts $50K from 2020 Budget

Posted June 6, 2019 at 4 a.m.


The budgets of Director of Public Services and Utilities David Turocy's budget came under fire on Tuesday as the council wrapped up the hearings.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — On the last day of the budget hearings, the City Council cut $50,000 from Mayor Linda Tyer's proposals. 
 
The cut came in two pieces and both related to vehicles for the water and the wastewater enterprise funds. Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell was successful in reducing $25,000 from each acquisition of equipment lines that are paid for through water and sewer bills — both of which are on pace to be significantly increased over the next seven years. Connell took aim at the replacement of vehicles lines to the tune of $75,000 and $50,000 respectively. 
 
"I'm just looking for somebody to reduce this bill for our residents," Connell said.
 
Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities David Turocy pleaded the case for continued replacement of the vehicles saying the department travels a lot throughout the city and need to be counted on to handle timely responses. He added that the vehicles from those departments aren't traded in but rather passed on to other departments, thus reducing the need for other city entities from replacing vehicles as often.
 
"We need to respond immediately so those are usually front line vehicles so when those age and get replaced, they get passed on to other departments," Turocy said.
 
Connell, however, picked through the inventory of vehicles in the departments and felt it was overkill. 
 
"Every year we choose to buy new vehicles and we don't have enough people to drive these vehicles," he said.
 
Turocy responded by saying the budget line isn't necessarily just for the purchase of new vehicles but sometimes to equip vehicles. For example, he said the Water Department has one truck that is fully equipped to flush hydrants and that's the only use. Other vehicles are dedicated to on-call employees should there be an issue during the off hours that need a response. He said the staff is also responding to many areas. The city has two water treatment and one wastewater treatment plant plus many miles of water and sewer lines the workers need to attend to so mobility is a key factor.
 
The $50,000 was the first two cuts from Mayor Linda Tyer's proposed budget. The City Council had cruised through the budget process so far without making any changes but Turocy's budgets became a sticking point on Tuesday.
 
Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers hadn't joined the debate too much in the first three meetings other than lamenting that the maintenance department was underfunded. She echoed similar sentiments on Tuesday about the Department of Public Services but with a bit more passion. Roads and the maintenance of buildings are two issues Rivers felt the city neglected with this budget.
 
"There is not enough in this budget to do the work that is being asked to be done," Rivers said of the Department of Public Services budget, adding that if a budget is a policy document then the city is not currently putting much of a priority on the roads.
 
For other councilors, the albatross hanging over the department is snow and ice. The city budgeted for $700,000 in that line item and spent $2.8 million. Turocy said that has led the department to hold back on such things as stormwater management and tree cutting as Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood attempted to find a way to cover that deficit.
 
"We've been holding back on tree work, we've been holding back on traffic signal work," he said, adding that "drainage is pretty much all on hold right now."
 
Connell has repeatedly attempted to raise that budget line calling for more truth in budgeting. But the underfunding of snow and ice is something all towns in Massachusetts do. It is the one line that the state allows cities and towns to deficit spend and municipalities can't lower it in the future should the actual costs come in less. That leads towns to underfund that line because of the uncertainty from winter to winter.
 
"There is a recognition in law that the expenses are unpredictable and therefore the statute gives every community in the commonwealth the authority to deficit spend," Kerwood said.
 
The levy ceiling adds to Pittsfield's choice to underfund it. The city is about $524,000 under the levy ceiling, according to Kerwood, which is the cap on what the city can raise from taxes. The city doesn't have the capacity to get the revenue to balance the budget with a large increase to that budget line unless cuts to other departments are made. 
 
"The money is not there," said White.
 
In all, the City Council approved seven more budget lines on Tuesday, rounding out the budget hearings. The council approved a total appropriation of $166,599,139.
 

Police


 
The Police Department budget of $10,899,632 is increasing by 8.6 percent, or $866,389.
 
The most notable increase is $240,000 for ShotSpotter, a gunshot detection system once eyed to be funded by private donations. The city contracted for three years with the company to give immediate notifications to officers when a gun is shot within a three-mile radius in the city. Police Chief Michael Wynn has raved about the system but the private donations have fallen short. The contract was for $600,000 and the city was only able to raise $340,000 — mostly through a $300,000 grant from Berkshire Health Systems — to pay for it.
 
Wynn is not putting the remainder in his budget to pay what is due but Tyer hasn't ruled out the possibility of getting additional private funding.
 
"We're trying but we're committed to ShotSpotter, we believe it is an added benefit to our community," Tyer said.
 
Wynn said the most notable statistic from the device is that about 25 percent of the activations are not being reported by phone calls — meaning one out of every four times there is a shooting incident the police wouldn't even know about it otherwise. The system is getting officers to the scene of the crime quicker, which Wynn said is helping to collect ballistic evidence. Prior to having the system in place, the officers would respond to the caller and then try to locate where the incident happened but now officers are going directly to the scene, Wynn said.
 
"We are seeing some efficiencies plus seeing new physical evidence," Wynn said.
 
Wynn wants to not only continue with the system but also expand it. But first the city has to pay for the contract it already signed. Tyer said she recently pitched the system to potential donors and is waiting to hear back.
 
Staffing in the department has also remained a point of conversation. The council approved a big boost in staffing four years ago to get the department to 99 members but the department still hasn't gotten there. For years Wynn has pushed for a staffing level of 120 and it currently sits at 95. Wynn said an additional five officers for patrol would help curb overtime, which has routinely run over budget. He is projecting the budget will run about $500,000 over this year as well and not all of the unspent funds in salary lines will cover it.
 
Councilor at Large Earl Persip questioned the staffing in animal control. The department is approved to have a full-time officer and a part-time officer. Wynn said ideally he'd like to have an additional full-time officer — one for days, one for nights, and a part-time office for weekends.
 
The department also created a new line for community outreach overtime. Wynn said the department has been increasing the outreach events it does and had calculated how much that had cost the last year to be $25,000. He requested that but Tyer proposed $12,500 instead.
 
"We have been funding most of those activities from our scheduled overtime line item," Wynn said.
 
The salary line items show a significant increase but part of that is because of the elimination of police science. The line was paying for officers who receive additional education but it wasn't kept in the salary lines. Wynn said the police science line was eliminated and added to salaries to eliminate the accounting process of moving money from non-personnel items to personnel to include it in the paychecks.
 
The department made a similar move with uniforms, thus a decrease in that particular line item, but still kept some money there for unanticipated costs.
 
The drug enforcement expense line was reduced again. Wynn said that was discretionary spending for various investigations but "we have to trim the budget somewhere."
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Police Chief $115,000 $115,000 $115,000 $118,476 $123,936
Police Captains $248,262 $251,062 $251,062 $261,055 $333,760
Police Lieutenants $384,362 $398,965 $405,734 $414,243 $661,000
Police Sergeants $724,849 $872,117 $872,117 $910,212 $1,139,536
Safety Officer $65,703 $66,414 $66,414 $69,329 $93,530
Detectives $451,356 $516,140 $516,140 $516,140 $596,198
Patrol Officers $3,356,910 $3,720,166 $3,720,166 $3,618,829 $4,422,120
Mechanic $48,100 $48,100 $49,662 $52,050 $53,893
Drug Enforcement $140,315 $180,000 $225,000 $225,000 $225,000
Dispatchers $523,680 $523,680 $523,680 $523,680 $523,680
Animal Control Officer $58,460 $58,460 $62,542 $64,963 $66,398
Special Response Team $12,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Custodian $31,490 $35,306 $37,818 $39,418 $42,406
Finance and Admin Manager        $60,000 $65,607
Sr. Clerk Typist/Conf. $115,718 $116,357 $116,668 $77,782 $77,782
Senior Clerk Typist $68,926 $68,926 $70,256 $72,364 $72,364
Animal Control Comm Clerk $2,000 $2,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Matrons $1,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Temporary Labor $10,000 $15,000 $15,000 $0 $9,742
Auxiliary Police $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $0 $0
Special Investigation OT $40,000 $40,000 $40,000 $42,800 $60,000
Special Events OT $150,000 $150,000 $125,000 $120,000 $120,000
Scheduled Overtime $600,000 $900,000 $900,000 $900,000 $1,000,000
Dispatchers OT $81,783 $110,000 $110,000 $110,000 $110,000
Crime Analyst $46,735 $49,390 $49,390 $52,689 $53,928
Community Outreach OT (New)         $12,500
Information/Technology Mgr. $51,291 $51,291 $0 $0 $0
Police Science $1,125,126 $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $1,214,413 $0
In Service $70,000 $70,000 $70,000 $70,000 $70,000
Student Officer Expenses       $0 $55,200
Shotspotter (New)         $240,000
Insurance Deductibles $15,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
Animal Control Testing Fees $200 $200 $200 $200 $200
Uniforms $30,000 $60,000 $60,000 $86,600 $30,000
Maintenance/Support $165,000 $185,000 $185,000 $195,000 $213,000
Police Education $20,000 $20,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Shipping/Postage $800 $1,200 $1,200 $500 $500
Printing $2,000 $3,000 $3,000 $2,000 $2,000
Traffic Enforcement EQ $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
K9 Care and Supplies $5,500 $5,500 $5,500 $5,500 $7,000
Office Supplies $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Drug Enforcement Expenses $10,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $10,000
Ammunition $12,000 $15,000 $15,000 $25,000 $30,000
Special Investigation Expenses $3,000 $4,500 $4,500 $4,000 $6,500
Care of Prisoners $5,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Custodial Supplies $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Equipment $30,000 $45,000 $45,000 $45,000 $95,000
Fleet Maintenance $40,000 $45,000 $45,000 $45,000 $50,000
Contractual Allowances (New)         $150,852
Total $8,884,566 $9,820,774 $9,800,049 $10,033,243 $10,899,632

 


 

Public Services


 
The Department of Public Services budget of $8,076,245 is $109,508 more than last year, or 1.4 percent.
 
The council was particularly concerned with the snow and ice budget, detailed above, that went $2.1 million over budget this current year. That has led the department to scale back on other things such as tree work, traffic signals, and drainage projects as it searches for ways to cover the deficit.
 
"The largest one is sand and salt usage," Turocy said of the cause of the overage.
 
Councilor at Large Melissa Mazzeo voiced concern for the overage considering the city did not have much snowfall this past year. Turocy said while there hadn't been many big storms, there was a constant amount of smaller storms requiring sanding and salting.
 
"I expected it to be lower too,"  Turocy said.
 
Mazzeo also said she noticed piles of salt building up on the roads this year and wondered about the potential waste of material. She continued to say that the potholes seemed worse this year and wondered if the salt contributed to the repeated freezing and thawing of the roads, which causes heaving. 
 
Turocy said he, too, had noticed a problem with salt this year and that it was particularly tied to the smaller trucks that caused possible overuse of the products. He said those trucks and equipment need to be recalibrated to curb excess salt from being dropped.
 
Mazzeo also questioned whether Turocy was calling in staff too early. She said she's heard of workers being called in an anticipation of a storm and then waiting for hours until the snow actually fell. She believes some overtime hours could have been curbed if those workers weren't called to report until the storms actually hit.
 
"When the snow starts to fly, the roads aren't going to be so unbearable that you won't be able to get people," Mazzeo said.
 
Turocy said he only calls in workers early when there is a big storm anticipated so that they can get onto the road immediately.
 
"There is an advantage to treating the roads early," he said.
 
At times when multiple days worth of snow is anticipated, Turocy said the crews will work 12 hours on, 12 hours off to provide 24/7 coverage. It is during those operations that Turocy feels there may be some downtime but he still believes having those workers ready is important.
 
Meanwhile, Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell questioned why the street lighting line hadn't decreased much since the city recently changed all of the lights to LED. The line is dropping from  $430,000 to $350,000.
 
"I would have thought it would have taken your original appropriation almost in half because we have all new lights," Connell said.
 
Turocy said this is the first year with the new lights and the installation has identified a number of poles and lights that aren't working and the funds in the budget are eyed to make the needed repairs to light up the new bulbs. He expects next year to be able to drop that line down another $50,000.
 
Connell also pushed for more tree maintenance. That line is being cut by $25,000 but Connell said there are a number of trees, especially silver maples, that need pruning or cutting.
 
"We are going to work to this number," Turocy said, saying he'd like to have more money to take down more but that is the budget he has.
 
Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli praised the addition of a parks maintenance person. Turocy said this is the first time since he's been on the job in which he has asked to add a person. 
 
Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi questioned why there is about a $159,000 increase in solid waste disposal. Turocy said he had kept that number low last year in anticipation of a reform to the trash ordinances that would have reduced the amount being disposed of and increased recycling. But that never happened.
 
"I tried to budget more realistically from what we've seen over the last year rather than optimistically," Turocy said.
 
Morandi also voiced frustration with the efforts to patch potholes.
 
"The roads are deplorable in the city of Pittsfield and we need to do better," Morandi said. "I just hope we are really going to start doing a better job for our residents."
 
Councilor at Large Earl Persip challenged Morandi and Mazzeo to move to send the budget back to the mayor for increased funding to help with both road repairs and plowing. Persip said the department's staff does what they can but simply don't have enough bodies to do all of the work needed.
 
"This staff is tiny compared to the city that they cover," Persip said. "The perception of everybody is standing around and is lazy is false."
 
Mazzeo responded by saying she wasn't accusing the staff of not doing their jobs but rather suggesting ways for the department to be more efficient to preserve the budget to do more.
 
Simonelli and Councilor at Large Peter White both said "the money isn't there" to increase the budget. 
 
In the end, the budget was passed 9-1 with Connell and Ward 5 Councilor Donna Todd Rivers, who felt the budget wasn't enough, voting against it.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Commissioner of Public Service $1 $87,339 $45,880 $48,449 $50,209
City Engineer  $72,190 $72,462 $72,000 $75,840 $84,652
Inspector of Weights and Measures  $40,070 $46,477 $39,146 $45,103 $0
Office Manager $38,890 $40,254 $41,258 $42,296 $43,367
Jr. Civil Engineer  $39,440 $40,006 $0 $0 $0
Superintendent $59,215 $55,970 $57,330 $61,904 $65,061
Street Compliance Inspector $53,369 $54,169 $55,650 $60,089 $62,838
Chief Street Foreman $50,786 $0 $0 $0 $0
Highway Maintenance Craftsman $231,061 $227,228 239,365 $241,263 $238,565
Parking Garage Manager  $54,182 $53,985 $53,768 $54,977 $56,370
Parking Control Officers  $56,173 $58,222 $61,055 $63,512 $68,057
Administrative Assistant  $33,370 $34,708 $35,572 $68,841 $76,065
Fleet Manager $49,560 $51,548 $51,666 $55,796 $58,639
Working Foreman $50,786 $51,290 $47,746 $51,546 $54,169
Motor Equipment Repairman $211,961 $215,183 $229,089 $216,687 $227,540
MEO-2  $39,586 $41,396 $44,401 $46,365 $48,966
Parks Lead       $39,768 $41,999
Parks Craftsman  $0 $0 $45,800 $32,452 $34,273
Custodian $31,031 $28,707 $28,793 $31,637 $32,480
Signal Maintainer $44,668 $44,668 $37,000 $35,333 $36,399
Park Maintenance Men $165,589 $166,889 $127,986 $102,683 $142,992
Senior Clerk Typist $30,379 $30,901 $31,658 $0 $0
Park Maintenance Superintendent $59,212 $60,099 $61,745 $60,400 $63,473
Seasonal Labor $30,000 $30,000 $90,000 $90,000 $80,000
Scheduled Overtime $85,000 $85,000 $125,000 $125,000 $200,000
Snow/Ice Overtime $100,000 $100,00 $100,000 $100,000 $100,000
Equipment Operators $216,635 $213,471 $223,096 $224,570 $252,457
Contractual Services $0 $100,000 $100,000 $100,000 $50,000
Contractual Allowances $0 $0 $12,500 $10,000 $10,000
Traffic Signal Maintenance $0 $0 $100,000 $100,000 $100,000
Utilities $50,000 $80,000 $80,000 $60,000 $35,000
Street Lighting $450,000 $480,000 $480,000 $430,000 $350,000
Maintenance $115,000 $115,000 $100,000 $100,000 $100,000
Collegiate Baseball/ Wahconah Park (PARKS) $10,000 $10,000 $0 $0 $0
Maintenance of School Fields $15,00 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Repairs/Services $55,000 $55,000 $55,000 $0 $0
Garage Maintenance $200,000 $220,000 $220,000 $220,000 $200,000
Rental Expense $57,672 $57,672 $71,250 $73,200 $73,200
Repairs - Streets $288,500 $350,000 $250,000 $250,000 $250,000
Streetscape Maintenance $25,000 $35,000 $35,000 $35,000 $50,000
Solid Waste Collection  $1,208,104 $1,220,302 $1,251,889 $1,283,186 $1,300,262
Solid Waste Disposal  $972,000 $1,066,000 $1,138,634 $1,161,407 $1,321,183
Solid Waste Recycle  $716,400 $722,700 $763,349 $782,433 $794,029
Household Haz Waste Collection  $8,000 $0 $6,000 $6,000 $6,000
Landfill Monitoring  $106,000 $106,000 $100,000 $100,000 $70,000
Sand $550,000 $700,000 $700,000 $700,000 $700,000
Professional Services  $10,900 $10,900 $10,900 $13,000 $15,000
Garage Supplies $20,000 $20,000 $20,000 $15,000 $13,000
Office Supplies $7,000 $7,000 $10,000 $8,000 $10,000
Supplies  $500 $3,000 $0   $0
Maintenance of Parks  $88,500 $88,500 $100,000 $100,000 $100,000
Gasoline and Diesel Oil $500,000 $400,000 $330,000 $300,000 $300,000
Tree Operations $60,000 $70,000 $75,000 $85,000 $60,000
Equipment $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Highway and Traffic Supplies $35,000 $35,000 $30,000 $30,000 $20,000
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 $8,076,245

 


 

Water Treatment

The water enterprise account was reduced by $25,000. The new total is $5,375,631.
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell made the reduction in the acquisition of equipment line that is eyed for the replacement of trucks. Commissioner of Public Services and Utilities David Turocy pleaded the case for continued replacement of the vehicles saying the department travels a lot throughout the city and need to be counted on to handle timely responses. He added that the vehicles from those departments aren't traded in but rather passed on to other departments, thus reducing the need for other city entities from replacing vehicles as often.
 
"We need to respond immediately so those are usually front line vehicles so when that age and get replaced, they get passed on to other departments," Turocy said.
 
Connell, however, picked through the inventory of vehicles in the departments and felt it was overkill. 
 
"Every year we choose to buy new vehicles and we don't have enough people to drive these vehicles," he said.
 
Connell's motion was approved by a 7-4 margin with him.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Commissioner of Public Utilities  $0 $0 $22,940 $24,224 $25,105
Water Superintendent $57,772 $60,100 $61,898 $65,048 $68,352
Administrative Assistant (New) $0 $0 $0 $17,782 $20,435
Working Foreman $49,304 $51,290 $52,571 $56,345 $62,838
Sr. Civil Engineer $29,892 $30,340 $30,485 $31,251 $32,043
Wtr./Swr. Maintenance Person $154,104 $154,312 $164,310 $168,267 $176,691
GIS Coordinator $29,892 $30,340 $30,485 $31,251 $32,043
Water Mach. Repairman $76,652 $77,762 $79,618 $83,693 $79,103
Chief TPO Non-Shift $0 $50,170 $54,170 $58,629 $61,612
Head TPO Non-Shift $51,548 $0 $0 $0 $0
TPO Non-Shift $187,108 $207,345 $214,855 $241,285 $253,209
Meter Reader $34,161 $34,666 $36,521 $38,161 $40,280
Senior Clerk Typist $35,057 $36,292 $38,465 $0 $0
Seasonal Labor $38,400 $38,400 $38,400 $38,400 $38,400
Overtime $95,000 $95,000 $95,000 $95,000 $95,000
Contractual Allowances $0 $4,500 $4,500 $5,000 $5,000
Utilities $370,000 $350,000 $350,000 $350,000 $375,000
Taxes $140,000 $146,000 $180,000 $170,000 $160,000
Maintenance $290,000 $300,000 $300,000 $300,000 $250,000
Contractual Services $200,000 $200,000 $200,000 $200,000 $230,000
Professional Services $180,000 $180,000 $180,000 $180,000 $250,000
Supplies $40,000 $40,000 $40,000 $40,000 $35,000
Chemicals $290,000 $290,000 $290,000 $290,000 $270,000
Capital Improvements $50,000 $0 $50,000 $50,000 $50,000
Acquisition of Equipment $75,000 $75,000 $75,000 $75,000 $50,000
Maturing Debt $670,867 $732,433 $827,088 $1,075,933 $1,090,546
Interest on Debt $380,368 $336,362 $671,148 $579,105 $539,500
Short-term Debt Issuance         $120,000
Debt Issuance Cost $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Allocation to General Fund $854,865 $949,811 $969,602 $920,004 $950,474
Total $4,394,963 $4,489,123 $5,047,116 $5,175,154 $5,375,631

Sewer Enterprise

The sewer enterprise account was approved at $475,145 with no discussion. The budget is 2.5 percent more than last year, or $11,363. The increase is salaries for the five staff members there and utilities that is being offset slightly by contractual services, stormwater services, and mains and manhole supplies.
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
 Working Forman $49,304 $44,221 $45,554 $49,803 $55,803
Wtr./Swr. Maintenance Persons $149,739 $152,170 $153,790 $162,979 $168,342
Overtime $50,000 $50,000 $50,000 $50,000 $50,000
Contractual Allowances $0 $1,500 $1,500 $2,500 $2,000
Utilities $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $35,000
Maintenance $50,000 $40,000 $40,000 $40,000 $40,000
Stormwater Services $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $18,500 $15,000
Contractual Services $85,000 $95,000 $95,000 $95,000 $95,000
Mains and Manhole Supplies $20,000 $20,000 $20,000 $15,000 $14,000
Total $459,043 $457,891 $460,844 $468,782 $475,145

Waste Water

The wastewater enterprise was also reduced by $25,000 with the same line — acquisition of equipment — being cut. 
 
The budget is now $6,580,621, which is $669,309 more than the current year. The biggest drivers of the budget increase are short-term and long-term debt interest. Those are going up $200,500 and $185,188 respectively. Utility costs are also going up by $125,000.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Comm of Public Works $0 $0 $22,940 $24,224 $25,105
Sewer Superintendent $59,212 $61,604 $63,452 $66,663 $70,054
Administrative Assistant  $0 $0 $0 $17,782 $20,435
Work Foreman Water Machine Repairmen $46,933 $48,819 $44,432 $46,700 $54,820
Sr. Civil Engineer $29,892 $30,340 $30,485 $31,521 $32,043
Chemist $53,369 $55,523 $57,191 $60,090 $62,838
GIS Coordinator $29,892 $30,340 $30,485 $31,521 $32,043
Water Machine Repairmen $151,905 $151,070 $149,571 $155,258 $163,979
Lab Technicians $76,503 $71,465 $75,138 $78,545 $82,943
Chief TPO Shift $52,057 $54,170 $50,541 $53,096 $55,803
Head TPO Shift $193,843 $194,791 $194,382 $413,793 $512,038
TPO Shift $329,999 $361,918 $365,698 $231,590 $133,203
Head TPO Float Shift $81,894 $87,338 $81,223 $41,203 $47,790
Senior Clerk Typist $30,379 $31,587 $32,536 $0 $0
Electrician  $0 $0 $0 $40,000 $55,803
Seasonal Labor $38,400 $38,400 $38,400 $38,400 $38,400
Overtime $95,000 $95,000 $95,000 $95,000 $95,000
Contractual Allowances $0 $6,000 $6,000 $6,000 $10,000
Utilities $550,000 $500,000 $500,000 $575,000 $700,000
Chemical Process $230,000 $220,000 $220,000 $220,000 $200,000
Maintenance $280,000 $260,000 $260,000 $260,000 $250,000
Sludge Handling $375,000 $375,000 $375,000 $375,000 $375,000
Contractual Services $110,000 $110,000 $110,000 $110,000 $100,000
Professional Services $180,000 $180,000 $180,000 $180,000 $200,000
Supplies $50,000 $45,000 $45,000 $45,000 $40,000
Capital Improvements $50,000 $0 $50,000 $50,000 $50,000
Acquisition of Equipment $50,000 $50,000 $50,000 $50,000 $25,000
Maturing Debt $627,809 $728,981 $1,024,386 $999,323 $1,098,663
Interest on Debt $384,403 $442,095 $802,386 $637,281 $822,469
Debt Issuance Costs $15,000 $25,000 $50,000 $15,000 $15,000
Short-term Debt Interest         $200,500
Allocation to the General Fund $453,772 $847,742 $886,636 $963,322 $1,011,692
Total $4,620,962 $5,102,183 $5,868,535 $5,887,088
 
$6,580,621

 

Worker's Compensation

Worker's compensation was approved without discussion. The budget of $650,000 is decreasing by $25,000 from the compensation payments line.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
Compensation Payments $335,000 $335,000 $335,000 $300,000 $275,000
Medical Payments $225,000 $225,000 $225,000 $225,000 $225,000
Injured on Duty - Police and Fire $190,000 $190,000 $190,000 $150,000 $150,000
Total $750,000 $750,000 $750,000 $675,000 $650,000

Finance and Administration


The budgets overseen by Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood were approved.
The Finance and Administration budget of $1,223,721, which represents a 4.7 percent, or $55,126, increase over the current year were approved with little discussion.
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell asked if the city was contributing to other post-employment benefits (OPEB) and was told no. He urged Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood to do so with free cash generated from the last tax lien sale.
 
The liability has been added to accounting books a handful of years. It essentially tracks how much the city is ultimately on the hook for benefits for all employees and retirees after they leave employment. Right now that would stand at $274 million. 
 
There is some difference of opinion on how to manage that liability. Some feel that isn't all due in one day but rather over a long period of time so isn't too much of a concern and can be handled year by year as it had been done prior to being required to be accounted for on the books. Others feel it is a known figure and can be planned for accordingly by investing money each year to create a fund for employees to be paid from once they leave, thus reducing that obligation from the annual budgets.
 
Kerwood falls on the side of believing that the liability for the city is too much to overcome at this moment. The city could put $100,000 aside today but the city's current investment strategy isn't going to make much of a dent. 
 
"It is a liability we are never going to be able to get a hold of," Kerwood said.
 
Kerwood agrees that any efforts to fill the OPEB fund is good but at this time the city is too close to the levy ceiling to have the flexibility to put much away in the annual budget. Connell then suggested using free cash to help bolster that fund and Kerwood said he'd like to take a more in-depth look at the best way to invest the fund to get the most back.
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
IT Manager (Moved to IT budget) $66,670 $67,663 $0 $0 $0
City Accountant $50,661 $59,659 $61,150 $62,999 $67,575
Administrative Assistant $31,290 $31,755 $32,522 $33,055 $33,538
Assessors $188,515 $185,340 $185,342 $193,213 $197,587
Treasurer $85,510 $81,389 $83,424 $88,095 $91,295
Tax Collector $64,249 $64,246 $62,474 $64,574 $66,919
Info Systems Specialists (Moved to IT budget) $113,160 $109,756 $0 $0 $0
Assistant Treasurer $39,085 $40,512 $42,615 $43,255 $46,246
Assistant Tax Collector $40,070 $41,683 $44,319 $45,104 $47,399
Purchasing Agent $64,249 $64,249 $64,249 $66,188 $68,592
Deputy Purchasing Agent $37,585 $33,661 $34,379 $35,580 $38,231
Head Clerk $30,215 $31,316 $32,947 $33,010 $34,035
Account Clerk-Assessor $31,290 $31,755 $32,522 $33,055 $33,538
Buyer $32,975 $27,804 $0 $0 $30,157
Payroll Specialist $39,660 $40,905 $41,981 $35,925 $38,701
Junior Accountant $41,070 $42,554 $44,768 $46,230 $48,351
Benefits Analyst $39,660 $40,905 $41,981 $42,611 $43,367
Principal Clerk Cashiers $51,820 $55,276 $58,794 $59,842 $59,233
Senior Account Clerks - Treasurer         $28,495
Senior Account Clerks $84,895 $87,688 $97,398 $98,859 $63,462
Network Administrator (Moved to IT budget) $58,625 $59,498 $0 $0 $0
Tax Collection Services $0 $60,000 $50,000 $60,000 $65,000
Equipment Maintenance $20,000 $20,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Revaluation $120,000 $90,000 $101,000 $76,000 $79,000
Legal Ads and Subscription $20,000 $15,000 $12,000 $10,000 $8,000
Supplies $40,000 $40,000 $32,000 $26,000 $20,000
Total $1,400,254 $1,482,745 $1,170,865 $1,168,595 1,223,721

 

Unclassified

The unclassified budget of $52,453,832 is going up by $100,893, which is .2 percent.
 
The most significant increase is $1.4 million in health insurance. However, that increase is more than offset by a $2,299,695 decrease in long-term debt.
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell questioned a $550,000 line for capital improvements, a line that is seeing a $175,000 increase. Director of  Finance Matthew Kerwood said that line is for items that have a short life and cost $25,000 or less. The line is there so the city doesn't have to borrow for those items.
 
Kerwood said this year the list of items total $523,000 and include front-line police cruisers, fixing a city fences, a vehicle for the inspector's office, the design of the bike path, matches for environmental assessments at the airport, attachments for snow removal vehicles, a study on the roof repairs, computers and the likes. He said little extra — an estimate $27,000 — was left in there in case some of those prices come in too high.
 
Connell motioned to cut that contingency out with a motion to reduce it by $25,000 but did not get enough support from the rest of the council. Councilor Melissa Mazzeo sided with Connell but said she'd rather go even deeper with cuts.
 
Mazzeo then began to question the vehicles and how the city's fleet is managed. But ultimately, the motion to reduce was rejected by the whole body.
 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval
40U Hearings Officer $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
40U Clerk $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Crossing Guards $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $25,375 $25,375
Scheduled Overtime $130,000 $100,000 $15,000 $15,000 $20,000
Insurance Medicare Coverage $1,010,000 $1,156,751 $1,156,751 $1,156,751 $1,156,751
Insurance Health $20,150,000 $21,500,000 $24,500,000 $25,025,000 $26,425,000
Health Ins. Mitigation Account $250,000 $300,049 $210,832 $0 $0
Insurance General $1,034,000 $1,034,000 $1,232,134 $1,293,740 $1,425,000
Insurance Group Life $82,500 $85,000 $85,000 $85,000 $100,000
Insurance Unemployment $220,000 $220,000 $300,000 $250,000 $150,000
Retirement Contribution $11,091,402 $11,612,235 $12,206,474 $13,318,798 $13,519,322
Benefits Conversion $400,000 $400,000 $400,000 $400,000 $500,000
Stipends         $1,000
Animal Shelter Management Fee $52,360 $52,360 $52,360 $52,360 $52,360
Telephone and Internet $125,000 $125,000 $125,000 $125,000 $100,000
Computer Upgrade and Repair $70,000 $70,000 $0 $0 $0
Computer License and Support $220,000 $230,000 $0 $0 $0
City Audit $95,000 $95,000 $95,000 $95,000 $85,000
Contractual Services $118,540 $110,000 $110,000 $133,350 $133,350
Tyler Street Business Group $10,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
Medicaid Services $40,000 $40,000 $40,000 $60,000 $60,000
Seminars/Travel/Dues $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $27,000 $20,000
Postage $0 $0 $50,000 $50,000 $50,000
Bank Service Charges $15,000 $15,000 $20,000 $15,000 $10,000
Contingency $275,000 $275,000 $245,000 $245,000 $235,000
Capital Expenditures $230,000 $300,000 $375,000 $375,000 $550,000
Long-term Debt Principal $7,216,120 $7,714,469 $7,595,982 $7,889,695 $5,590,000
Long-term Debt Interest $2,409,090 $2,153,264 $2,392,100 $3,385,196 $3,900,000
Short-term Debt Interest $250,000 $337,771 $405,535 $175,000 $175,000
Debt Issuance Costs $130,000 $100,000 $100,000 $50,000 $50,000
Allocation from Water ($854,865) ($949,811) ($969,602) ($920,004) ($920,004)
Allocation from Sewer ($453,772) (847,742) ($886,636) ($963,322) ($963,322)
Total $44,519,375 $50,109,098 $49,909,990 $52,367,939 $52,453,832
 
 

 

 

 

Pittsfield Public Schools FY20 Line Item Budget by iBerkshires.com on Scribd


 

 

 


Tags: fiscal 2020,   pittsfield_budget,   

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Pittsfield Stars Travel Baseball Team Improves to 5-2

PITTSFIELD, Mass. -- The Pittsfield Stars 18-and-under baseball team earned a pair of wins over the weekend against the Frozen Ropes in the Eastern New York Travel Baseball League.
 
In the first game, Christian Marchbanks earned the win on the mound and went 3-for-4 with three doubles.
 
In the second game, Caden Frazier pitched Pittsfield to victory as it improved to 5-2 this summer.
 
The Stars go to Waterford, N.Y., on Wednesday.
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