PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Despite being in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Pittsfield was won an award for its budget presentation for the fourth consecutive year.
Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada again presented the city with its Distinguished Budget Presentation Award, this time for its fiscal 2021 budget.
The FY2021 budget was $169,437,880, including a $64.4 million school budget the City Council was reluctant to OK.
"I do say this all the time is that the budget is in fact a policy document and in this process and in this distinguished award, a part of that analysis is you're evaluating it as a policy," Finance Director Matthew Kerwood said. "And again, we ended up being professional in the areas that demonstrated at the end of the day that it was a good communication vehicle, it was a good policy document."
This award honors the commitment of a governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting. To receive it, the city had to meet and be rated proficient in nationally recognized guidelines for an effective budget presentation that are designed to assess how well an entity’s budget serves as a policy document, financial plan, operations guide, and communications device.
The city was first selected for the award in 2017. Currently, there are more than 1,600 participants in the association's Budget Awards Program.
"There are three individuals who evaluate the budgets that are submitted for consideration, and then over the course of the mandatory requirements, but some are not mandatory, but there are mandatory requirements that you need to meet, in all those mandatory requirements at least two other reviewers need to find the budget document proficient in order for it to receive merit," Kerwood said.
"Irrespective of the individual categories, at the end of the day, their real issue was whether or not the budget document will make the reviewers believe that the budget document is a good planning document, a good communication document."
The budget process begins in January through February, Kerwood explained, and budgets are submitted in March. The process began before the COVID-19 pandemic forced all meetings onto the Zoom platform, but there was still a sense of uncertainty that loomed over the process.
"It was a challenging and stressful time to try to put together a budget with just so much uncertainty and so many unknowns as a result of the situation that we all found ourselves in," Kerwood said. "That clearly created challenges from an operational standpoint, from a logistical standpoint. The bottom line is, working with my fellow department heads with the mayor, and via Zoom, and all these other techniques that we're using, we were able to put together a document that we were able to present to the City council and ultimately pass."
Kerwood said that before Mayor Linda Tyer was elected — and he was appointed as finance director — the city was never afforded the opportunity to present its budget to the GFOA. The fact that the administration has received the award four years in a row is a testament to the commitment that the administration has to make a true policy document more than just numbers on a page, he added.
"It reflects the priorities of the of the administration, the priorities of the city in our effort to put together a spending plan articulates and communicates those priorities," he concluded.
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Greylock and Credit Union of the Berkshires Agree to Merger
PITTSFIELD, Mass. – Greylock Federal Credit Union and Credit Union of the Berkshires (CUB), both of Pittsfield, have reached a definitive merger agreement subject to the approval of the CUB membership and regulatory agencies.
"We are pleased that Greylock and Credit Union of the Berkshires have reached this merger agreement," said Greylock President and CEO John L. Bissell. "We know that the credit union difference remains strong in Berkshire County. We look forward to completing the merger and
combining the resources of CUB and Greylock to help the community thrive."
With final approval of the merger, Greylock will assume CUB's nearly $23 million in assets.
The downtown branch will crank out juices and smoothies at 48 North St., the former Brooklyn's Best. It is a 650-square-foot space that owner Jonathan Vella said he has always loved because "it is that tiny perfect little hole in the wall."
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BRPC's Executive Committee unanimously approved the document on Thursday, which includes concerns for proposals that will eliminate Great Barrington and Lee/Lenox as urban clusters and reclassify the urban area of Pittsfield.
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On Friday morning, Mayor Linda Tyer delivered "breaking news" that the parade will be canceled this year for the second time since 1977. It was also canceled last year due to the novel coronavirus.
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