Pittsfield Local Receipts Trending High, Cannabis Revenues Dropping

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Halfway through fiscal 2023, the city's collected more than 50 percent of its projected receipts and seems on track to take in more than expected.

"I think we are tracking in a way where local receipts will yet again exceed the actuals, will exceed our estimates," Finance Director Matthew Kerwood reported to the Finance subcommittee on Thursday, adding that this is one of the ways that free cash is generated.

Some $6,604,208 was collected by the end of the second quarter on Dec. 31, 51.4 percent of the estimated total of $12,845,725.  Free cash is now at more than $17 million, up from around $5.3 million in fiscal 2021.

These receipts, which include meals and hotel/motel taxes, plummeted in fiscal 2021 due to the pandemic but have been rebounding since.  

A couple of years ago, cannabis tax dollars surpassed expectations due to a boom in new dispensaries. But market saturation is bringing prices down and revenue numbers are now dropping.

Of the estimated $800,000 in cannabis tax, $332,491 was collected by the end of the second quarter, representing 41.6 percent.  

"When you're the only game in town you can charge $300, I'm just making that up, but when there are four players in town, the price point is going to fluctuate," Kerwood said.

There are about seven dispensaries in the city including Temescal Wellness, Berkshire Roots and Bloom Brothers.

Kerwood said he may have to make adjustments downward in that local receipt if the trend continues to happen.

Twenty-five percent of cannabis revenue goes into the public works stabilization account that was created in 2019, 25 percent goes to the stabilization fund, and 50 percent goes to the general fund.

The stabilization fund currently totals $5,148,695, the public works stabilization fund $255,670, and there is $17,130,565 in free cash certification as of Dec. 15.

During the meeting, the subcommittee voted against transferring and appropriating $2 million from certified free cash to the general stabilization account and transferring and appropriating $2 million from certified free cash to the Other Post-Employment Benefits trust account.

They did vote in favor of transferring $2 million in free cash to the public works stabilization account.

Council President Peter Marchetti suggested putting the additional $2 million into public works over the general stabilization account because it will still make more money in investment and can be used to purchase new equipment or do additional road work.

Kerwood also pointed out expenses to watch, which included a 123.2 percent spending of the $800,000 budget for winter maintenance and overtime. 

"This is as of Dec. 31, so anything associated with the Christmas storm would not be part of this expense," he explained.

"But between the two accounts, it's $800,000, there [was a] $3,150 budget adjustment. As of Dec. 31, what had been spent was $486,687. There was another $503,204 encumbered as of Dec. 31, which if you take what has been actually been spent in the encumbrance, it is at 123 percent."

Under state law, this is the only account that can be deficit spent.

Tags: fiscal 2023,   pittsfield_budget,   

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Construction Grant Changes No Longer Align with Berkshire Atheneum's Goals

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass — The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners has adjusted this round of its construction grant program, no longer aligning with the Berkshire Athenaeum's goals. 
This grant round is really no longer a renovation program, library Director Alex Reczkowski said during a trustees meeting last week.
Interested applicants need at least two locations that they would be interested in pursuing as possible libraries or locations, not just the current library, he said. Acceptance of the award is once every 30 years. 
Although the library has some physical upgrades to the building in its strategic plan, it does not have enough data for a bigger project than that, Reczkowski said. 
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