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Pittsfield Council Wastes No Time Approving 10 Budget Sections

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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Meeting remotely, the City Council gave preliminary approval to 10 budget sections on Thursday night.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council met for day two of budget hearings Thursday night on the proposed $170 million spending plan for fiscal 2021 and preliminarily approved 10 departmental budgets unchanged in just under an hour and a half.

The council met remotely to review the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Information Technology, Community Development, Building Maintenance, School Maintenance, Airport, Building Inspections, Health Department, the Berkshire Athenaeum and Personnel. 
 
There was little discussion of the budgets, most of which were level-funded or had marginal increases or decreases. 
 
The Retired Senior Volunteer Program budget of $86,445 decreased overall by $3,522. 
 
Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi questioned the amount of funds, $5,772, left in this year's budget.  Director Jeff Roucoulet said, "we had a few things planned for travel for a conference and other things that weren't done due to COVID, we had some supplies left over, we've been pretty much paying staff at this point and our bills."
 
Roucoulet explained why some lines, including volunteer recognition, had been zeroed out. RSVP is funded in part by the Corporation for National and Community Service so there are "parallel" line items for recognition, staff travel, education and training. 
 
"There is a clause in our contract that we have to have certain line items ... that they are currently waiving due from the pandemic," he said. RSVP got another $7,500 in federal funding that will cover those line items. 
 
The Information Technology budget of $625,037, which increased by only $6, passed with little discussion.
 
Councilor at Large Earl Persip did question a $22,000 reduction in the computer upgrade and repair line item and IT Director Michael Steben said the cut was able to be made because the city's IT infrastructure is at a point where it no longer needs development.
 

IT Director Michael Steben uses a graphic to show the city is entering a maintenance phase in the information technology upgrade cycle.
"We're in really good shape. So, I'm again at this point in our life cycle, there won't be any further development on this particular infrastructure so I was OK making the cuts," he said, displaying an asset life-cycle graphic showing the city was entering fiscal 2020 in maintenance mode.
 
"So there's no concerns about making the city vulnerable with any kind of attack, or, with so many things going on with the internet and security concerns, you don't jeopardize that?" asked Persip.
 
"The short answer is no, it does not because our security suite is part of that strategy," Steben said. "A huge chunk of that's actually funded out of the software line item, and the hardware line item, despite that cost, there's still sufficient funding available for me to pay for our security subscriptions that do come out of this particular line item. So we're still passable, we're fine with regards to security."
 
The City Council accepted the level Berkshire Athenaeum budget of $1,184,229.
 
There were some questions about salary increases and personnel changes. Personnel has been decreased from 47 to 27 mostly in assistant and shelver positions.
 
"We are facing large increases due to the minimum wage going up. Many of our positions still had salary schedules starting at $11, and we're now moving toward $13.50 in this budget cycle being the starting salary," Director Alex Reczkowski said. 
 
He explained that some positions are vacant and, with the increase of the minimum wage, he has pushed stuff into higher positions with more responsibilities. There had been nine library shelvers but eight have been moved into higher responsibility positions leaving one who did not wish for more duties. 
 
Reczkowski also pointed out that many of these positions are filled by part-timers so the way the budget is explained in equivalencies doesn't quite compute with the actual number. He also explained the 50 percent drop in the salaries of librarian technicians -- from $70,202 this year to $35,645 next year -- is because there are still a number of open positions. 
 
The library has not been able to find a children's librarian so a lower grade worker is doing more hours to make up for that. 
 
There were questions about cuts in materials. Reductions were made to the tune of $35,000 and Reczkowski said this is just a sad reality of the budgetary situation.
 
"It is a large cut and it is heart breaking," he said. "Unfortunately, we have to cut that this year to get to a level-funded budget."
 
He said this is compounded by the Friends of the Berkshire Athenaeum not being able to hold its annual book sale. Typically some of these funds go toward the purchase of new materials.
 
"We recently received a large collection of Hershel Parker, who is the pre-eminent Melville scholar. He's retired and donated his life's work of Melville research so they happen to the athenaeum and it's an amazing collection," he said. "Last year, we had talked about needing to shift trustee funding toward processing that great research collection, which is where that book materials money was being used.
 
"Unfortunately, we have to cut the books and materials this year, so that we can have a level-funded budget, and so our progress with Special Collections will be slowed down for sure."
 
Reczkowski also said there will also be a reduction in hours. Evening hours will be cut in the summer. He said these reductions may be less drastic in the fall. He said staff service hours have also been cut.
 

Berkshire Athenaeum Director Alex Reczkowski says cuts to level fund the budget will slow down the processing  of the donated Melville research collection.
The City Council also had few qualms with the level Building Maintenance budget of $1,792,460.
 
Director Brian Filiault said many reductions can be directly connected to the pandemic. With buildings closed and some utilities off or reduced there have been savings.
 
"Things haven't been used obviously with COVID," he said. "There are a lot of things that haven't been running or used right now."  
 
It was noted in budget documents that in order to limit the past practice of bonding or borrowing for projects that are classified as repairs, the department under the direction of the mayor and finance director will utilize its operating budget for these routine repairs in both municipal and school buildings.
 
The council also accepted the schools' maintenance budget of $770,000 without discussion.
 
The Airport budget of $273,479 only decreased by $1,711 and included minimal substantial changes.
 
Although passing with little discussion, Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell shared his concern about revenues that he wished were higher. He also wanted to know when a new full-time manager would be hired. The interim manager said someone has been hired and they will take up the position in the near future.
 
The City Council accepted a Community Development budget of $680,759 that decreased by $9,957 or 1.4 percent. 
 
Changes in this budget were minimal. There was a $16,000 reduction in the playground leaders and planning studies was also reduced by $7,000.
 
Director of Community Development Deanna Ruffer said playground leaders won't be needed this year with COVID-19 causing the cancellation of programming in the parks. 
 
As for planning studies, Ruffer said with ongoing projects rolling into next year this line item, that is used for planning matching grants, can be reduced.
 
She did note next year this money will have to be restored.
 
"Those are a one-time cut and to continue to do the work that we do we would need to replenish those in the following fiscal year," she said. 
 
The council approved the Health and Inspections budget of $492,031 that was essentially flat with only an $802 decrease.
 
The budget did include a $14,085 increase in a public health nurse position increasing the position to full time.
 
"I had been hoping to expand that position prior to the pandemic," Director of Public Health Gina Armstrong said. "With the pandemic, it puts an exclamation point on the need for this."
 
There were a few questions on the property demolition line item that was reduced from $23,000 to $0. Armstrong said there will still be demolitions funded through Community Development Block Grant funding.
 
The City Council approved the Building Inspector'’s budget of $463,633 that represents a 2.9 percent increase of $12,851. 
 
Inspector Jeff Clemons did say revenue to date is $347,393. He said this is down partly because there are fewer permits. He said with the pandemic there have simply been fewer building projects.
 
The City Council accepted the essentially level-funded Personnel budget of $200,568.
 
Changes were minimal in this budget that included the elimination of the educational opportunity line time that was merged with professional development.
 
The medical services line item, used for pre-employment, DOT, and drug-screening physicals and tests, was reduced by $10,000 and transferred to the education budget. This line has typically only been used by the School Department.

 

 

RSVP

The RSVP budget of $86,445 is going down by $3,522, largely from the zeroing out of staff travel, training, and volunteer recognition. There is no new spending
 
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
Director of RSVP $34,984 $34,984 $36,486 $36,678 $37,944
Volunteer Coordinator $15,948 $15,753 $14,685 $21,915 $22,346
Administrative Assistant $18,851 $19,638 $19,703 $23,187 $23,740
Membership and Dues $1,121 $1,253 $400 $400 $0
Postage $400 $400 $500 $600 $750
Staff Training $300 $300 $300 $300 $0
Advertising $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Telephone $6 $6 $6 $6 $0
Supplies $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,400 $0
Staff Travel $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $0
Volunteer Recognition $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $0
Equipment and Copier Lease $1,981 $1,981 $1,981 $1,981 $1,665
Total $78,591 $79,045 $79,061 $89,967 $86,445

 

Information Technology

The Information Technology budget of $625,037 is essentially level-funded. 
 
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
IT Manager $67,663 $64,824 $67,606 $72,518 $75,815
Info Syustems Specialists $109,756 $168,104 $115,598 $124,738 $129,245
Network Administrator $59,498 $62,957 $125,005 $125,287 $129,002
Computer Upgrade and Repair $70,000 $70,000 $46,500 $46,500 $23,975
Computer License/Support $230,000 $230,000 $232,000 $255,000 $266,000
Supplies $3,000 $3,000 $1,000 $1,000 1,000
Total $543,917 $598,885 $587,709 $625,043 $625,037

 

Berkshire Athenaeum

The $1,184,229 budget for the Berkshire Athenaeum is exactly the same as last year. 
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
Senior Supervisors $190,949 $195,763 $192,982 $201,242 $203,251
Supervisor Specialist $47,323 $36,820 $38,605 $42,269 $42,903
Supervisor Specialist $123,986 $121,997 $126,594 $132,277 $118,736
Library Assistant II $51,324 $63,528 $65,149 $75,587 $147,678
Senior Technicians $102,504 $106,373 $106,929 $110,956 $150,005
Senior Assistants $76,210 $81,194 $91,302 $99,169 $123,392
Director of Athenaeum $66,022 $67,673 $70,409 $74,419 $75,988
Library Custodians $65,320 $64,276 $71,865 $77,788 $78,562
Library Assistant I $67,950 $65,433 $66,563 $77,888 $85,317
Library Technicians $63,642 $64,751 $66,565 $70,202 $35,645
Library Shelvers $57,242 $54,664 $59,014 $68,328 $6,727
Equipment Maintenance $1,000 $1,000 $950 $950 $950
Library Staff Development $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Supplies - General $13,000 $13,000 $12,770 $12,770 $12,770
Supplies - Custodial $6,500 $6,500 $6,450 $6,450 $6,450
Binding and Microfilm $3,345 $3,648 $3,575 $3,575 $3,575
Newspapers and Periodicals $13,000 $13,000 $10,000 $10,000 $7,000
Books and Audio Visual $29,320 $29,365 $29,365 $64,039 $30,000
Travel $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Reimbursement $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Unclassified - Library $2,000 $2,000 $1,900 $1,900 $1,500
Library Networking Fees $49,980 $49,980 $50,420 $50,420 $50,000
Theft Deterrent System $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,280
Total $1,044,617 $1,044,965 $1,075,407 $1,184,229 $1,184,229

Maintenance: City

The building maintenance budget has not changed from this year at $1,792,460.
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval   2020 Approval 2021 Approval
Director of Maintenance $67,264 $64,022 $69,297   $72,518 $74,047
Boiler/HVAC Repairman $44,485 $45,846 $48,016   $46,980 $46,232
Painter $44,652 $43,721 $45,255   $47,798 $50,009
Working Foreman Craft $47,455 $52,311 $54,424   $55,803 $57,410
Plumber $89,645 $96,023 $100,359   $106,177 $110,741
Carpenters $133,513 $142,919 $143,670   $150,542 $157,187
Principal Clerk $33,071 $37,375 $38,887   $39,872 $41,213
HVAC Technician $90,510 $93,603 $96,630   $102,001 $106,451
Custodian $32,999 $34,747 $36,322   $38,336 $40,020
Office Manager $42,767 $49,542 $51,547   $52,852 $54,753
Electricians $132,606 $139,969 $146,744   $155,081 $161,873
Seasonal Labor $16,000 $10,000 $0   $0 $0
Scheduled Overtime $0 $40,000 $40,000   $40,000 $40,000
Custodial Labor Rentals $30,000 $25,000 $25,000   $25,000 $25,000
Assistant Director of Maintenance $59,737 $0 $0   $0 $0
Utilities $520,000 $520,000 $555,000   $575,000 $560,000
Repairs Municipal $205,200 $239,826 $260,000   $275,000 $263,026
Abandoned Property $20,000 $10,000 $5,000   $5,000 $0
Contractual Allowances $4,800 $4,400 $4,500   $4,500 $4,500
Total $1,810,618 $1,649,703 $1,720,651   $1,792,460 $1,792,460
 

 

Airport

The Airport's budget of $273,479 is 0.6 percent less than this year. 
 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
Airport Manager $58,204 $58,204 $59,659 $61,460 $61,837 $62,445
Assistant Airport Manager $0 $0 $47,755 $49,220 $50,696 $51,566
Airport Inspector $45,370 $45,370 $34,155 $39,598 $40,785 $41,396
Scheduled Overtime $0 $0 $15,000 $15,000 $10,000 $10,000
Commission Clerk $1,560 $1,872 $1,872 $1,872 $1,872 $1,872
Contractual Services $11,100 $12,000 $12,000 $12,000 $12,000 $12,000
Utilities $55,000 $56,800 $56,800 $56,800 $56,800 $55,000
Telephone $1,560 $1,500 $2,200 $2,200 $2,200 $2,200
Maintenance $14,500 $15,000 $33,500 $30,000 $30,000 $28,000
Snow Removal $8,000 $8,500 $4,000 $5,000 $5,000 $5,000
Membership and Dues $0 $0 $0 $1,500 $1,500 1,500
Supplies $2,550 $2,550 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Equipment $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $0 $0 $0
Total $199,344 $203,296 $270,941 $277,150 $275,190 $273,479

 

Community Development

The Office of Community Development's budget of $680,759 is down $9,957 from this year, or 1.4 percent. 
 
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
Director $40,851 $41,712 $45,148 $46,788 $47,958
Parks Open Space Planner $64,001 $64,000 $67,842 $70,306 $71,712
City Planner $61,150 $60,916 $62,998 $65,286 $66,592
Conservation Agent $50,851 $52,833 $54,028 $55,647 $57,311
Planning Administrator $4,000 $0 $0 $0 $0
Administrative  Coordinator $40,905 $41,671 $35,853 $36,553 $37,657
Business Development Manager $0 $0 $29,071 $30,880 $31,652
Community Development Specialist $47,579  $50,677 $63,460 $87,316 $90,471
Administrative Assistant $7,192 $6,381 $6,639 $6,274 $6,446
Playground Leaders $18,879 $18,356 $17,700 $20,400 $4,000
ZBA Clerk $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Seasonal Labor $17,195 $15,000 $14,625 $15,000 $13,000
Recreation Coordinator $40,905 $41,671 $42,613 $43,686 $45,380
Human Services $138,000  $107,000 $84,000 $71,750 $71,750
Land Use and Zoning $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Lake Management $35,000 $54,950 $51,950 $52,000 $55,000
Supplies $8,000 $7,995 $9,000 $7,500 $7,500
Recreation Programs $7,500 $7,500 $7,300 $7,500 $7,500
Downtown Inc. $32,250 $24,185 $24,185 $29,185 $29,185
Tyler Street Business Group $10,000 $2,500 $0 $0 $0
Planning Studies $15,000 $5,000 $7,000 $7,000 $0
BRPC Assessment $0 $33,928 $34,776 $35,645 $35,645
Total $641,258 $666,938 $660,188 $690,716 $680,759

 

Health Department

The Health Department's budget is $801, or 0.2 percent, less than this year. The amount is $492,031.
 
 
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
Board of Health Director $64,023 $64,023 $67,606 $70,062 $71,814
Senior Sanitarian $45,880 $46,918 $48,822 $50,918 $52,832
Inspector of Weights and Measures $0 $0 $0 $0  
Animal Inspector $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500
Sanitarians $79,725 $83,565 $86,935 $90,663 $94,174
Senior Code Enforcement Inspector $44,760 $46,918 $48,822 $50,918 $48,703
Nuisance Control Officer $29,703 $33,279 $36,835 $38,406 $37,657
Officer Manager $32,780 $34,956 $37,745 $39,371 $40,850
Public Health Nurse $49,300 $48,920 $51,659 $54,605 $68,690
Administrative Assistant $26,120 $29,266 $30,831 $35,489 $36,911
Board of Health Clerk $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Water Testing $1,200 $1,200 $1,200 $1,200 $1,500
Uniforms $900 $1,200 $1,200 $1,200 $1,700
Contractual Services $1,000 $1,000 $1,500 $2,000 $2,000
Telephone $3,450 $3,450 $1,500 $1,500 $1,700
Equipment Maintenance $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500
Education and Training $3,000 $3,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Nuisance Abatement $7,000 $10,000 $10,000 $7,000 $7,000
Code Enforcement $6,000 $4,300 $2,000 $3,000 $3,000
Advertising $300 $300 $0 $0 $0
Property Demolitions $25,000 $25,000 $23,00 $23,000 $0
Medical Supplies $8,750 $7,000 $7,000 $9,000 $9,000
Supplies

$2,000

$2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Total $441,391 $456,795 $471,155 $492,832 $492,031

 

Building Inspectors


 
The Building Inspector's budget of $463,633 is up $12,851, or 2.9 percent, over this year. 
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
Senior Wire Inspector $50,851 $52,835 $54,700 $56,075 $57,532
Building Commissioner $64,022 $64,022 $67,606 $70,062 $76,398
Head Clerk $32,103 $33,525 $34,900 $34,890 $36,061
Senior Clerk $26,877 $0 $0 $15,350 $15,350
Building Inspectors $143,888 $149,205 $152,600 $158,816 $163,757
Plumbing and Gas Inspector $47,217 $49,305 $51,305 $53,911 $48,890
Inspector of Weights and  Measures       $41,578 $44,164
Temporary Labor $7,500 $6,000 $6,000 $3,000 $4,800
Uniforms $1,500 $1,500 $3,000 $3,600 $3,600
Telephone $3,500 $3,500 $3,500 $3,500 $3,665
Supplies $11,300 $10,000 $10,000 $7,500 $9,416
Total $388,758 $369,892 $383,611 $448,282 $463,633

Personnel



 
The Personnel Department budget of $200,568 is down $289 from this year.
 
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
Director of Personnel $64,022 $65,623 $69,297 $72,518 $75,814
Personnel Technician $35,675 $38,099 $40,428 $42,239 $44,654
Personnel Specialist $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Training $4,500 $4,500 $3,500 $5,000 $13,500
Educational Opportunity $4,500 $4,500 $3,500 $5,000 $0
City Physician/ Medical Services $60,000 $45,000 $45,000 $40,000 $30,000
Online Application Program $5,600 $5,600 $5,600 $5,600 $5,600
Advertising $2,500 $2,000 $2,500 $3,000 $3,000
Diversity and Inclusion     $5,000 $5,000 $5,000
Postage $50,000 $0 $0 $0  
Supplies $3,000 $3,000 $2,500 $3,000 $3,500
Assessment Centers $0 $26,000 $19,500 $19,500 $19,500
Total $229,797 $194,322 $196,825 $200,857 $200,568
 

 

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The City Council made no changes to the first set of department budgets submitted by Mayor Linda Tyer. 

Pittsfield Begins Review of $170M Budget
for Fiscal 2021

Posted Thursday, June 4, 2:21 a.m.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council gave preliminary approval of the first section of a level-funded budget for fiscal 2021 without changes on Tuesday night. 

 
The council held its first budget hearing remotely on the proposed $169,537,880 spending plan that is up less than 1 percent from this year.
 
"It is the most challenging and demanding undertaking that any of us has ever experienced and the challenges grow with each passing day," Mayor Linda Tyer said. "Following right behind this global pandemic that continues to present a threat to human health is the economic fallout that will certainly affect our ability to deliver city services to our residents." 
 
Tyer noted that they were well into the budget process when the pandemic hit and it forced a financial about-face. She said the state's economy will certainly impact the city's budget and she expected a "historic and rapid economic downturn."
 
This budget braces for a substantial hit in state aid and assumes a level Chapter 70 school aid amount of $47,686,062 and a 15 percent decrease in unrestricted state aid equaling $1,389,350.
 
But she said this amount could be even less.
 
"In addition to this stunning assessment, there is no information coming from Massachusetts officials about the state budget including what cities and towns can expect for state aid and Chapter 70 school funding," Tyer said. "So the budget that has been submitted to you today is best described as a management plan. A treading water plan."
 
The state Legislature has gone back to the drawing board to develop a spending plan for fiscal 2021 that takes into account a potential shortfall of $6 billion caused by a drop in revenue, emergency spending and millions of people on unemployment. 
 
Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said communities across the state are facing this uncertainty and dealing with it in different ways. 
 
"The only thing certain right now is uncertainty and this is based on the best information we could put together," he said. "... All in all, we all know there will be reductions in state aid the question becomes how much and where." 
 
Before delving into the first section of the budget, Tyer outlined a spending plan that is essentially flat and reflects a 0.98 percent increase. Although the budget is all-round deflated, the city still has to reckon with some fixed increases including a $325,000 increase in health insurance, a $658,827 increase in the retirement contribution, a $499,738 increase in solid waste and recycling collection, and a $334,120 increase in principal debt payments.
 
Some $93,583,962 of the budget will be raised through the property tax. The budget also includes the use of $750,000 in free cash to reduce the tax rate. 
 
The council had pushed hard last year to use more free cash to keep the tax rate low, finally getting the mayor to concede another $1 million on top of an initial $750,000 that would reduce the residential property rate to $19.71 per $1,000 valuation. The mayor and Kerwood had resisted at first, arguing that it was better to put as much into reserves as possible. 
 
An appropriation from the water and sewer enterprise funds in the amount of $13,031,299 has been applied to the revenue stream.
 
Kerwood broke down the budget a bit more and pointed out some of the larger "buckets" including the proposed education budget of $64,493,700, the proposed public safety budget of $19,851,187, and the proposed Public Services budget of $8,076,388. 
 
These budgets will be discussed at future hearings.
 
Kerwood added that they made a point to maintain staffing levels where possible. He said this means some city services will be affected. The Council on Aging and Veterans Services budgets were down slightly from this year but department heads said these reductions were not caused by COVID-19 and represent normal fluctuations in the budget.
 
Tyer went over some of these reductions. Most notably the education budget has been reduced by $1.4 million. There is a $210,000 reduction in the police front line vehicle line time and a $450,000 reduction in capital improvements. 
 
Other notable cuts throughout departments range from $3,000 to near $40,000.
 
Tyer echoed that although the budget is not ideal it is important that they pass a budget before July 1.
 
"As we move through the summer and fall I am gravely concerned that the municipal operating budget will change from a best-case scenario to a worst-case scenario that can only be described as a massive setback," she said. "Fortunately, under Massachusetts municipal law and regulation, we are able to submit to the City Council amended budgets right up until the City Council sets the tax rate."
 
The councilors reviewed line budgets for the mayor's office, City Council, city solicitor, city clerk, Council on Aging, Veterans Services and the Office of Cultural Development. Many of their qualms centered around small amounts of money mostly connected to salary increases. There were some attempts to reduce line items but not enough votes to make the changes. 
 
The next budget hearing is Thursday, June 4.
 
Pittsfield Budget Review Day 1
 

 

Mayor's Office


Mayor Linda Tyer says she would review her office budget if the council reduced it by the amount of her salary increase but the motion failed. 
The Mayor's Office budget of $216,669 was preliminarily approved. The budget is $3,776 more than last year, all of which is contributed to salary increases for the three positions in the office. The mayor's salary by charter is $95,000 with increases tied annually to the Consumer Price Index, which this year was 2.5 percent. The travel allowance — which has shrunk over the years — was zeroed out. 
 
Ward 5 Councilor Patrick Kavey asked if the mayor would forgo her 2.5 percent salary increase of $2,462.
 
"Is it appropriate to be giving raises especially to our leader? Any other year I would look at this and argue in your favor," Kavey said. "... This year isn't every other year … and I just think as we continue through this pandemic and as you lead us through this it is important to lead by example."
 
Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi, Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, and Ward 1 Councilor Helen Moon also spoke up against the increase but City Solicitor Stephen Pagnotta said per the charter, the mayor is entitled to this increase and the council can't pick out this specific line item to decrease.
 
Council President Peter Marchetti noted that Tyer had forgone a raise her first two years in office because of the city's financial predicament. 
 
Kavey said he was appreciative of the mayor's leadership and work but didn't think it was appropriate for anyone to be getting a raise when they were talking about laying off staff. He asked Tyer to forego her raise. 
 
"I appreciate your perspective," responded Tyer.
 
Councilor at Large Earl Persip spoke up and thought going after salaries to save a few thousand dollars was a bit nitpicky in a $170 million budget.                  
 
"Questioning the mayor's leadership over $2,000 raise that is in the city's charter is just uncalled for in my opinion," he said. "She has lead us through this pandemic and has shown great leadership ... there is no fat here if we are going to question every raise we are going to drag this out."
 
Connell made the motion to instead knock this amount off the top of the departmental budget and the mayor said she would re-examine the budget if it passed. However, the amendment narrowly failed 6-5. Connell, Morandi, Kavey, Moon, and Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Maffuccio supported the amendment.
 
The council eventually voted 6-5 to approve the budget along the same lines.
 
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
Mayor $95,000 $95,000 $96,998 $98,453 $100,915
Director of Admin Services $52,195 $53,092 $56,064 $58,101 $59,554
Executive Assistant $36,658 $37,285 $39,364 $41,354 $42,125
Markets and Advertising $500 $250 $300 $300 $300
Supplies $3,500 $2,922 $2,775 $2,575 $2,575
Travel $2,000  $1,297 $1,000 $1,000 0
MA Municipal Association $11,000 $11,000 $11,000 $11,200 $11,200
Total $200,853 $200,846 $207,501 $212,983 $216,669


City Council


 
The budget proposal was accepted as presented and includes funds for annual Massachusetts Municipal Association conference that was proposed by Council President Peter Marchetti last year as "Education and Training." 
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018  Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 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
Education and Training $0 $0 $0 $2,420 $2,420
Advertising/Marketing $1,250 $1,250 $1,250 $1,000 $1,000
Total $103,892 $103,892 $103,892 $106,062 $106,062

City Solicitor

The Solicitor's Office budget of $219,263, with a decrease of 0.1 percent, was preliminarily approved. The office is a contracted service that is shown under "Legal Fees and Court Costs."
 
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
City Solicitor $1 $1 $0 $0 $0
Assistant City Solicitor $1 $1 $0 $0 $0
Executive Legal Secretary $39,011 $39,011 $43,207 $45,246 $46,873
Tax Title Litigation $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $5,000 $5,000
Supplies $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $500 $500
Law Library $11,500 $11,500 $11,500 $5,000 $3,250
Legal Fees and Court Costs $162,000 $162,000 $162,000 $162,000 $162,000
Legal Settlements $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Equipment Maintenance $2,800 $2,800 $2,800 $2,000 $2,000
Total $217,813 $217,813 $222,007 $219,746 $219,263

City Clerk

The City Clerk's budget of $344,272 was preliminarily approved with only Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi voting against.
 
Morandi asked to decrease the city clerk's budget of $344,272 by $2,452 — the city clerk's salary increase. This amendment failed with only Morandi supporting his motion. The budget, which has decreased by 4.3 percent or $15,288, then passed along the same margins.
 
"I voted for the mayor because I think she is the leader of the city and that salary is much higher," Ward 1 Councilor Helen Moon said. "I think we have to be careful that we aren't attacking people for getting the money they have earned."
 
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
City Clerk $67,264 $68,682 $67,607 $70,062 $72,514
Assistant City Clerk $40,668 $43,350 $45,104 $47,036 $42,056
Head Clerk $36,099 $36,634 $37,183 $37,834 $38,969
Assistant Clerk Registrar $36,483 $36,211 $33,373 $34,843 $34,754
Election Officers $26,516 $22,932 $24,696 $35,280 $26,656
Secretary Board $33,862 $31,120 $32,381 $33,775 $32,229
Senior Clerk Typist $26,980 $28,048 $29,185 $30,445 $35,923
Registrars Board $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Licensing Board $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Election Custodians $2,600 $2,700 $2,754 $4,435 $3,000
Equipment Maintenance $6,300 $6,300 $6,300 $3,300 $6,471
Election Programming $5,600 $4,936 $4,936 $9,000 $6,000
Election Rentals $900 $705 $705 $1,050 $700
Education and Training $1,500 $1,000 $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 $13,500 $16,404 $16,404 $23,000 $16,500
Census $15,750 $15,000 $15,000 $16,000 $15,000
Total $326,522 $326,522 $329,128 $359,560 $344,272

 

Council on Aging

The Council on Aging budget was approved without discussion. The $302,365 budget is down $7,709, or 2.5 percent, from this year.
 
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
Director $52,910 $52,910 $54,508 $59,728 $61,221
Senior Clerk Typist $30,897 $31,180 $32,709 $33,282 $34,251
SDC Assistant $23,558 $23,558 $25,233 $25,675 $28,084
Soc Serv Tech/Custodian $31,665 $32,000 $32,867 $33,443 $29,267
Soc Serv Tech/Custodian (PT) $25,377 $25,377 $25,967 $26,422 $28,240
Program Assistant $32,125 $32,125 $33,490 $34,076 $35,055
Activities Leaders (PT) $21,545 $21,545 $22,017 $22,403 $11,202
Kitchen Coordinator $22,490 $22,490 $23,449 $23,860 $23,860
Temp. Labor $4,000 $3,382 $3,484 $3,485 $3,485
Equipment Maintenance $6,435 $6,435 $6,000 $6,300 $6,300
Building Maintenance $13,500 $13,500 $13,400 $14,000 $14,000
Printing $1,300 $1,300 $888 $1,000 $1,000
Supplies $3,000 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Program Expense $24,350 $24,350 $23,900 $23,900 $23,900
Total $293,152 $292,652 $300,414 $310,074 $302,365


Veterans Services

The Veteran's Services budget was approved without discussion. The budget is $1,005,650 and is down by $66,824, or 6.2 percent over this year.  The largest portion of that is for program expenses, the benefits that are given to local veterans and that are reimbursed at least 75 percent by the state.
 
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
Veterans' Agent $48,100 $48,100 $52,061 $51,102 $53,657
Administrative Assistant $28,333 $29,478 $27,112 $28,165 $33,243
Temporary Labor $0 $0 $0 $0  
Equipment Maintenance $975 $975 $0 $0 $1,400
Rental Expense $6,700 $0 $5,900 $6,500 $6,500
Education and Training $0 $0 $0 $0  
Flags & Grave Markers $2,000 $0 $1,500 $2,000 $8,600
Supplies $2,000 $3,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Program Expense $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $962,250 $982,457 $900,000
Award and Declarations $300 $300 $250 $250 $250
Total $1,088,456 $1,081,853 $1,051,073 $1,072,474 $1,005,650

 


Cultural Development

Another item of contention was the Office of Cultural Development budget that stayed essentially level at $115,672, indicating a decrease of 0.1 percent. With the lack of activities scheduled during the pandemic, some councilors asked to reduce an assistant position to part time.
 
However, it was explained that the events are largely funded through grants and partnerships and staff are responsible for capturing these grants. The majority of the council felt it would not benefit the city to reduce staffing in this department.
  
Account Name 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval
Director $52,910 $52,910 $55,872 $57,902 $59,350
Administrative Assistant $29,981 $30,375 $31,586 $32,139 $33,523
Tourism Administrator $0 $0 $0 $0  
Building Maintenance $0 $0 $0 $0  
Contractual Services $5,000 $4,000 $4,000 $4,000 $4,000
Tourism Expenses $12,000 $12,000 $12,000 $17,000 $14,000
Visitor Center Expenses $500 $500 $300 $0  
Supplies $3,500 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000
Telephone $800 $800 $800 $800 $800
Travel and Dues $1,500 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Equipment Building $0 $0 $0 $0  
Total $106,191 $104,585 $108,558 $115,841 $115,672

 


Tags: fiscal 2021,   pittsfield_budget,   

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Berkshire Theatre Group to Present 'Godspell' Outdoors

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Berkshire Theatre Group will produce "Godspell" this summer – the first musical in the United States to be approved by Actors' Equity Association in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The show will be presented outdoors in an open-air tent adjacent to The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield, and is scheduled to run Aug. 6 through Sept. 4. Tickets will be available for purchase Tuesday, July 7, at noon. 

"We could not bear the thought of a Berkshire summer without live theater to support our community, so we jumped through every hoop to create a safe way to make this happen," said BTG Board of Trustees Co-President Lee Perlman. "I hope our production gives hope to the tens of thousands of theater professionals who are on the sidelines this summer. Theater is unstoppable and will be back”

Artistic director and CEO Kate Maguire said "Godspell" got the green light after BTG established a strict protocol to protect the health and safety of the audience, the performers and others involved in the show. 

"We have been working daily and in the true spirit of care and collaboration with Actors’ Equity Association for the past several weeks," she said. "Guided by Executive Director of Actors’ Equity Association Mary McColl and her extraordinary team, I have learned much about how to lead a theater in the new world. Our industry, which has been devastated by this global pandemic, will be served by their seriousness, data driven wisdom, and profound understanding of the need for artists to rebuild. 

"I am so proud that Berkshire Theatre Group, in its 92nd season will be authorized and granted the responsibility to produce the musical 'Godspell.'”

After careful consideration with the local and state government, Mayor Linda Tyer of Pittsfield and Actors’ Equity Association, BTG relocated "Godspell" from its original site at The Fitzpatrick Main Stage in Stockbridge to outside under a tent at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield.

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