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Police Chief Michael Wynn introduces new Police Officer Joshua Tracy to the City Council on Tuesday.

Pittsfield City Council Accepts Grant Funds For Electric Car

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Some councilors questioned the need for a second electric vehicle for parking enforcement.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council accepted a $7,500 grant to offset the purchase of an electric car. 
After some discussion Tuesday, the City Council accepted the money from the state Department of Environmental Protection to purchase a second Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicle for the parking enforcement officer.
"We actually already have one is in use today," Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said. "We have had no issues with it."
Kerwood said the car has been ordered and the $34,000 allocation was approved in the fiscal 2020 budget and was purchased through parking revenue.
Councilor Kevin Morandi asked if this vehicle can be serviced by the city and Kerwood said like any other vehicle the city owns, a lot of maintenance can be done in-house while some cannot be. 
"There are somethings we can do in-house and there are some things we can't," he said. "That is just the nature of it."
He did add they have purchased the car from a local dealer.
Councilor Anthony Simonelli noted that there is an option to lease through the grant and asked if the city looked at leasing the car instead. He did say he hopes the city looks more into leasing in the future.
Kerwood said typically municipalities do not lease vehicles but added that Pittsfield is currently leasing a municipal truck as an experiment.
There were two votes against the acceptance and Councilors Melissa Mazzeo and Morandi felt that funds should not be taken out of parking revenue to purchase new vehicles or to fund salaries. They felt this money should only be used for maintenance for parking lots and garages.
"This is clearly for parking and I am not using the parking money that is off of the backs of the businesses and residents out there who have had to pay it to purchase a car so we can charge them more," Mazzeo said. 
This sentiment was also held by Councilor Christopher Connell but he did not want to turn down grant funds.
Mazzeo had other concerns and thought the city did not need to purchase a second car for the parking enforcement officer. She also was not convinced that the electric car was the best option and wanted more information. 
She also wanted to make sure the city did its due diligence and asked Kerwood what prompted him to approve the purchase.
Kerwood said the fleet manager did this research and, in his opinion, the vehicle was an acceptable purchase.
"It is our expert opinion that it is a good purchase and that would be the fleet manager's recommendation whose job it is to maintain the feet," he said.
She also brought that there has been poor municipal vehicle conditions in the past and noted the city had replaced cars that really did not have a lot of miles on them. Kerwood said these vehicles did have poor bodies and that the city has improved the way it maintains and cares for vehicles.
Councilor Peter White said he thought the electric vehicle would only benefit the city and would both be environmentally friendly and financially sound.  
"We are saving a significant amount on gas we are not using fossil fuels and also the maintenance on these are lower than what you would see on a typical gas engine," he said. "... It is a win-win."
Kerwood said the car that the electric vehicle will replace will be recycled back into the fleet.
In other business, the City Council approved the hiring of Police Officer Joshua Tracy and appointed Lisa Griffith to the Cultural Council.
The council also voted to accept a $70,000 Safe and Successful Youth Initiative grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services to support services for eligible women through the Berkshire Children & Families Inc. to the Police Department.

Tags: electric vehicle,   police officer,   

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Mayor Tyer Reviving 'At Home in Pittsfield' Program

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — More than a year after it was rejected by the City Council, Mayor Linda Tyer has revived her At Home housing renovation program.
The initiative was referred on Tuesday to the subcommittee of Economic and Community Development. Tyer is asking for appropriation of $500,000 from the Pittsfield Economic Development Fund for the residential Exterior Home Improvement Loan Program.
The mayor pitched this program in February 2019 to help eligible residents improve their homes. This program would will provide zero-interest loans to residents for undertaking certain home improvement projects in an effort to improve the housing stock in the city.
Tyer originally asked for $250,000 from the General Electric account to kickstart the program so that homeowners could then get loans of up to 10 percent of the appraised value after renovations or a maximum of $20,000.
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