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Pittsfield city councilors react to Ward 2 Councilor Charles Kronick comments on the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Pittsfield Council Begins Review of Fiscal 2023 Budget

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council on Tuesday spent four hours beginning its review of the city's $172 million budget, preliminarily passing nine departments' spending plans as proposed.

At-Large Councilor Karen Kalinowsky, Ward 1 Councilor Kenneth Warren, and Ward 2 Councilor Charles Kronick unsuccessfully motioned to make amendments to different departments.

Kronick even delved into his personal views of gender identity when discussing the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, later adding that city government is not responsible for others' feelings.

In an effort to address deficiencies in responding to mental health crises, the councilors supported a recommendation for the Pittsfield Police to earmark up to $250,000 in grant money to have additional clinicians as co-responders.

The proposed municipal operating budget is $99,900,752 and the proposed public school budget is $72,398,262, totaling a municipal operating budget of $172,299,014.

Within that are a $2,200,000 increase in health insurance, a $780,492 increase in the retirement contribution, and a $563,888 increase in solid waste collection and disposal.

The city expects to raise $101,341,57 in property tax and its remaining revenue will be funded by state aid and local receipts. Unrestricted general government aid is at $9,745,348 for fiscal 2023, increased by more than $256,000.

To offset the tax rate, Mayor Linda Tyer is proposing a $750,000 appropriation from free cash and $16,290,130 from the water and sewer enterprise funds has been applied to the revenue stream.

With the water and sewer enterprise line, the total budget is $188,589,144, which Tyer requested to raise and appropriate at the last City Council meeting. It was referred to the Committee of The Whole for Tuesday's deliberation.

The city's excess levy capacity is $2,536,049.

The Committee of the Whole will next meet on Thursday, May 26, with other meetings scheduled for Tuesday, May 31, and Thursday, June 2. All meetings are in chambers at 6 p.m.

Day 1: Mayor's office, City Council, City Clerk, Human Resources, DEI, Airport, City Solicitor, Health Department, Police Department
 

Mayor's Office

The mayor's office budget of $242,784 was approved with some debate about the 7.5 percent consumer price index (CPI) wage increase, which is the highest rate in more than 40 years.  

The departmental budget is $16,876 more or a 7.47 percent increase from the previous year.

Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Maffuccio was the lone vote in opposition.

Department heads, managers, and non-union employees will receive the CPI wage increase that is in the city's code, Tyer said.

"It's based upon the prior January's CPI for urban districts, that provision is in our city code and our past practice has been when we set salaries for those groups we would use that CPI percentage, and then you would add in merit based on performance," she explained.

"But this year, as I indicated, we were stunned when we got the information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that the CPI had been set at 7 1/2 percent, so this is the highest CPI in 42 years."

About $400,000 in CPI raises will be given to about 50 employees.

Kronick said the number was arbitrary and unsuccessfully motioned to decrease the wage increase to three percent.

Other councilors did not support his reasoning.

"We're in a world where it's time to start paying your employees, you have businesses all over looking for people and people are an asset and the world started to realize that," Councilor at Large Earl Persip III said.

"And I think we need to keep our assets."

Account Name 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval
Mayor $96,998 $98,453 $100,915 $102,428 $110,000
Director of Admin Services $56,064 $58,101 $59,554 $62,889 $67,605
Executive Assistant $39,364 $41,354 $42,125 $46,516 $50,004
Markets and Advertising $300 $300 $300 $125 $125
Supplies $2,775 $2,575 $2,575 $2,575 $2,450
Travel $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $0 0
MA Municipal Association $11,000 $11,200 $11,200 $11,500 $11,500
Total $207,501 $212,983 $216,669 $225,908 $242,784

City Council

The budget proposal of $109,262 was accepted as presented.  It is a $2,200, or a 2.05 percent increase over the previous year.

Kalinowsky unsuccessfully motioned to reduce education and training, the only inflated line item, by $2,200 to match the previous year's allocation.

This is used to subsidize overnight accommodations for the Massachusetts Municipal Association's annual meeting. Kalinowsky found it unnecessary to use even the small amount of funds for that purpose.

Councilors advocated for the conference and advised Kalinowsky that she can opt out of taking the funds for her hotel room so that the monies remain within the budget.

Warren also unsuccessfully motioned to request $10,000 for outside legal counsel as an alternative to the city solicitor.

Account Name

2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 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 $2,420 $2,420 $4,620
Advertising/Marketing $1,250 $1,250 $1,000 $2,000 $2,000
Total $103,892 $103,892 $106,062 $107,062 $109,262

 

City Clerk

The budget of $369,650 was unanimously passed as presented with little conversation. It is a $6,568 or a 1.81 percent increase from the previous year.

Account Name 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval
City Clerk $67,607 $70,062 $72,514 $75,825 $81,511
Assistant City Clerk $40,668 $45,104 $42,056 $43,627 $45,499
Head Clerk $37,183 $37,834 $38,969 $39,706 $40,301
Assistant Clerk Registrar $33,373 $34,843 $34,754 $39,706 $40,332
Election Officers $24,696 $35,280 $26,656 $22,935 $24,696
Secretary Board $32,381 $33,775 $32,229 $33,741 $35,189
Senior Clerk Typist $29,185 $30,445 $35,923 $37,609 $34,247
Election Custodians $3,600 $4,435 $3,000 $2,800 $2,800
Equipment Maintenance $6,300 $6,300 $6,471 $7,173 $6,775
Election Programming $4,936 $9,000 $6,000 $9,000 $6,000
Election Rentals $705 $1,050 $700 $700 $500
Education and Training $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $600 $800
Advertising and Marketing $500 $500 $500 $2,000 $2,500
City Code Updates $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $8,000 $8,000
Records Preservation $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $6,000
Supplies $16,404 $23,000 $16,500 $23,000 $16,500
Census $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $16,000 $18,000
Total $325,538 $359,628 $344,272 $363,082 $369,650

 

Human Resources

The $234,048 budget was passed as presented. It is $15,066 or a 6.88 percent increase from the previous year.

Kronick unsuccessfully motioned to reduce the department's training, budgeted for $15,000, by $5,000 because he was not satisfied with Human Resources Director Michael Taylor's explanation that the funds are for both mandated training and for reimbursing staff who seek professional development.

With those funds, about 500 employees receive training.

Account Name   2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval 
Director of Human Resources   - - $76,951 $90,430 $97,212
Human Resources Specialist   - - $44,654 $48,452 $52,086
Training   $3,500 $5,000 $13,500 $13,500 $15,000
Educational Opportunity   $3,500 $5,000 $0 $0 $0
City Physician/ Medical Services   $45,000 $40,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000
Online Application Program   $5,600 $5,600 $5,600 $5,600 $9,750
Stipend Language Prof   $2,500 $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $6,500
Diversity and Inclusion   $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 $5,000
Postage   $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Supplies   $2,500 $3,000 $3,500 $3,500 $3,500
Assessment Centers   $19,500 $19,500 $19,500 $19,500 $15,000
Total   $196,825 $200,857 $201,705 $218,982 $234,048

 

Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The new department's $169,416 budget was passed as recommended. It is a $69,656, or 69.82 percent higher than the previous year due to the fact that the FY22 budgeted amount was for a partial year. 

The DEI office was created last year and appeared on the city budget in FY22 for the first time.


"This department is probably going to be my favorite vote tonight. This department is well overdue," Persip said. "We talked about this in the past, some of us disagree where it belongs and actually what it does, I suggest that some people actually talk to the director of the department and actually understand the role and how important it is for this community to have this department and this position."

The approval did not come without debate, as Kronick unsuccessfully motioned to reduce the department's spending twice and voted against it.

He began by questioning Chief Diversity Officer Michael Obasohan's credentials after noting his salary of around $90,000 annually. Council President Peter Marchetti cut off this questioning and called it inappropriate, reminding Kronick that the department has already been established.

Kronick then went on to question some of the initiatives within the department related to gender identity.

"People want to know how to talk to everybody else, are you a 'he,' 'she,' or 'her,' my sister, she's a ‘she' and 'her' she put it in her LinkedIn thing and I'm never confused when I talk to her," he said.

"I feel, and maybe it's just an opinion, but I don't think it's just an opinion, I think that this is sort of a commonsense sort of thing, you know what you are because we were told that when you were born. It is a religious principle of mine, I think that what we're talking about here is spending money on things that you can research on the side."

This got a noticeable reaction from the council but best efforts were made to get back on track.

Ward 5 Councilor Patrick Kavey said Kronick's response to the department is an example of why he would not support reducing its funding.

Account Name 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval
Chief Diversity Officer - - - $51,610 $89,803
Administrative Assistant - - - $18,250 $47,213
DEI Ambassadors - - - $8,400 $8,400
Contractual Services - - - $10,000 $10,000
Recruitment and Retention - - - $5,000 $5,000
Professional Development - - - $5,000 $5,000
Supplies - - - $1,000 $3,000
Travel & Dues - - - $500 $1,000
Total - - - $99,760 $169,416

Pittsfield Municipal Airport

The budget of $297,228 was approved as presented with little discussion. It is a $12,500 or 4.39 percent increase from the previous year.

Account Name     2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval
Airport Manager     $61,460 $61,837 $62,445 $66,265 $71,235
Assistant Airport Manager     $49,220 $50,696 $51,566 $54,768 $58,876
Airport Inspector     $39,598 $40,785 $41,396 $45,623 $49,045
Scheduled Overtime     $15,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Commission Clerk     $1,872 $1,872 $1,872 $1,872 $1,872
Contractual Services     $12,000 $12,000 $12,000 $12,000 $10,000
Utilities     $56,800 $56,800 $55,000 $55,000 $50,000
Telephone     $2,200 $2,200 $2,200 $2,200 $2,000
Maintenance     $30,000 $30,000 $28,000 $28,000 $28,000
Snow Removal     $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 $5,000
Education & Training     $0 $0 $0 $0 $3,000
Membership and Dues     $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $700
Supplies     $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Total     $277,150 $275,190 $273,479 $284,728 $297,228

 

City Solicitor

The budget of $236,432 was approved with no discussion. It is an $8,763 or 3.85 percent increase from the previous year.

Account Name 2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval
City Solicitor $1 $0 $0 $0 $0
Assistant City Solicitor $1 $0 $0 $0 $0
Executive Legal Secretary $43,207 $45,358 $46,873 $50,169 $53,932
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 $3,250 $0 $0
Legal Fees and Court Costs $162,000 $162,000 $162,000 $170,000 $175,000
Legal Settlements $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Equipment Maintenance $2,800 $2,800 $2,800 $2,000 $2,000
Total $217,813 $222,007 $219,746 $227,669 $236,432

 

Health Department

The $586,572 budget was passed as presented. It is a $76,459 or 14.99 percent increase from the previous year, largely due to the addition of a licensed social worker with a salary of $75,000.

"If the City Council approves the Health Department's budget including the licensed social worker, we would undertake a process to create a job, create a job description, go through a hiring process, so that would be the next step," Tyer said.

"And really the goal is to have someone with specialized training and expertise in the field of mental health care that can provide guidance to the Department of Public Health but also to us as we undertake a number of decisions around the co-responder program around models that some community members have recommended to us, it is important to have someone with that level of expertise providing guidance to us as we make these next steps decisions."

The addition was well-received by most of the councilors but Kronick felt that the salary was set too high for a position and unsuccessfully motioned to reduce it by $30,000.

He also argued that the city is defining a solution without identifying the problem.

"The problem has been defined. We have a mental health epidemic in our city, we have an opioid crisis in our city," Sherman said.

There was also some speculation that the position may be a better fit for the Police Department but Tyer said there would be a limitation because the social worker would not be able to access patient records as a co-responder.

Account Name     2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval 2022 Approval  2023 Approval
Board of Health Director     $67,606 $70,062 $71,814 $80,500 $83,743
Senior Sanitarian     $48,822 $50,918 $52,832 $57,411 $52,390
Animal Inspector     $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500
Sanitarians     $86,935 $90,663 $94,174 $98,593 $93,810
Senior Code Enforcement Inspector     $48,822 $50,918 $48,703 $50,988 $49,020
Nuisance Control Officer     $36,835 $38,406 $37,657 $39,424 $37,901
Officer Manager     $37,745 $39,371 $40,850 $41,622 $43,408
Public Health Nurse     $51,659 $54,605 $68,690 $72,537 $77,352
Administrative Assistant     $30,831 $35,489 $36,911 $32,838 $34,248
Board of Health Clerk     $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Licensed Social Worker     $0 $0 $0 $0 $75,000
Water Testing     $1,200 $1,200 $1,500

Police Department

The budget of $11,927,437 was approved as presented with a recommendation that the department earmarks up to $250,000 in grant money to have additional clinicians as co-responders.

The budget is a $411,206 or 3.57 percent increase from the previous year.

The recommendation was agreeable with the council, Tyer, and Police Chief Michael Wynn as they all believe that the city needs better support for those in a mental health crisis.

Persip largely advocated for the addition of more co-responders to address mental health calls.

The city's current co-responder program is contracted services with the Brien Center and is funded through the Police Department. It was explained during the hearing that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) restrictions prevent city employees from having access to medical records and that is a hurdle for the administration.

"My goal here tonight in this meeting is to make sure that we are improving our co-responder program and I think everybody in the room is on that same page," Persip said.

"I don't think I don't think the Police Department is against that, I don't think the community, we all understand we have a mental health issue out there and we need to get the police the support to deal with that, the community needs the support to deal with that."

Tyer said the city needs a partnership with the council to make this happen.

"I hear you loud and clear and we'll do whatever is the will of the City Council on this line item but we need your recommendation, right, like let's do this as a partnership," she said.

"Not just us putting forward $250,000, not really having a plan."
 

Account Name     2019 Approval 2020 Approval 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval
Police Chief     $118,476 $123,936 $127,034 $133,491 $143,503
Police Captains     $261,055 $333,760 $352,266 $366,548 $372,046
Police Lieutenants     $414,243 $661,000 $696,319 $712,548 $731,762
Police Sergeants     $910,212 $1,139,536 $1,223,386 $1,236,564 $1,403,359
Safety Officer     $69,329 $93,530 $67,511 $72,750 $75,242
Detectives     $516,140 $596,198 $634,091 $643,602 $649,597
Patrol Officers     $3,618,829 $4,422,120 $4,187,207 $4,182,428 $4,221,188
Mechanic     $52,050 $53,893 $56,733 $58,672 $59,552
Traffic Enforcement     $0 $0 $0 $0 $25,000
Drug Enforcement     $225,000 $225,000 $215,000 $248,685 $252,415
Dispatchers     $523,680 $523,680 $573,049 $599,046 $634,552
Animal Control Officer     $64,963 $66,398 $66,398 $71,131 $67,009
Special Response Team     $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Custodian     $39,418 $42,406 $44.526 $46,032 $51,557
Finance and Admin Manager      $60,000 $65,607 $68,591 $72,433 $77,865
Exe. Admin Assit & Police Chief Ass     - - $83,416 $99,772 $85,946
Sr. Clerk Typist/Conf.     $77,782 $77,782 - - $85,946
Senior Clerk Typist     $72,364 $72,364 $72,837 $75,327 $78,473
Animal Control Comm Clerk     $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $2,000 $2,000
Matrons     $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Temporary Labor     $0 $9,742 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Auxiliary Police     $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Special Investigation OT     $42,800 $60,000 $60,000 $60,000 $60,900
Special Events OT     $120,000 $120,000 $70,000 $50,000 $50,750
Scheduled Overtime     $900,000 $1,000,000 $1,275,000 $1,275,500 $1,294,125
Dispatchers OT     $110,000 $110,000 $110,000 $110,000 $111,650
Crime Analyst     $52,689 $53,928 $56,165 $58,902 $63,320
Community Outreach OT       $12,500 $12,500 $12,500 $12,688
Police Science     $1,214,413 $0 $0 $0 $0
In Service     $70,000 $70,000 $70,000 $70,000 $113,000
Contracted Services         $85,000 $85,000 $85,000
Student Officer Expenses     $0 $55,200 $115,000 $125,000 $115,600
Shotspotter       $240,000 $240,000 $240,000 $204,750
Insurance Deductibles     $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Animal Control Testing Fees     $200 $200 $200 $200 $200
Uniforms     $86,600 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000
Computer license/Support (New)     - - - $162,712 $197,000
Limited Duty Officer     $0 $0 $0 $0 $23,200
Maintenance/Support     $195,000 $213,000 $239,600 $92,888 $92,888
Police Education     $15,000 $15,000 $15,000 $45,000 $45,000
Shipping/Postage     $500 $500 $500 $500 $500
Printing     $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
K9 Care and Supplies     $5,500 $7,000 $8,000 $10,000 $12,500
Office Supplies     $10,000 $10,000 $11,000 $11,000 $11,000
Drug Enforcement Expenses     $15,000 $10,000 $16,800 $16,800 $16,800
Ammunition     $25,000 $30,000 $30,000 $40,000 $40,000
Special Investigation Expenses     $4,000 $6,500 $6,500 $6,500 $6,500
Care of Prisoners     $10,000 $10,000 $14,000 $14,000 $14,000
Custodial Supplies     $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $19,000 $10,000
Equipment     $45,000 $95,000 $95,000 $95,000 $110,000
Fleet Maintenance     $45,000 $50,000 $65,000 $65,000 $65,000
Contractual Allowances       $150,852 $177,000 $168,000 $168,000
Total     $10,033,243 $10,899,632 $11,324,229 $11,516,231 $11,927,437

The complete Pittsfield fiscal 2023 budget as presented can be found in pdf form here.


Tags: fiscal 2023,   pittsfield_budget,   

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Purgatory Road Returns, Funds Bring Kevin Hines to Dalton

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

DALTON, Mass. — "Purgatory Road," a long-standing spooky event that raises money for suicide prevention, is back this year.

Attendees will be taken through a "cursed haunted mansion" themed trail in the woods behind the Dalton CRA. The event will run on Oct. 14, 15, and 21 from 7 to 10 p.m. and all proceeds support the Berkshire Coalition for Suicide Prevention.

The fundraiser was started by Joann Farrell and Betsy Nichols 11 years ago and has raised about $200,000 since. It usually draws about 300 people per night.

This year, the effort has brought a globally known activist to Dalton.

"We did it for eight years and we were going to stop but with COVID, we decided that we needed to restart our efforts," Nichols explained.

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