Pittsfield Council Endorses 11 Departmental Budgets

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council last week preliminarily approved 11 department budgets in under 90 minutes on the first day of fiscal year 2025 hearings.

Mayor Peter Marchetti has proposed a $216,155,210 operating budget, a 5 percent increase from the previous year.  After the council supported a petition for a level-funded budget earlier this year, the mayor asked each department to come up with a level-funded and a level-service-funded spending plan.

"The budget you have in front of you this evening is a responsible budget that provides a balance between a level service and a level-funded budget that kept increases to a minimum while keeping services that met the community's expectations," he said.

Marchetti outlined four major budget drivers: More than $3 million in contractual salaries for city and school workers; a $1.5 million increase in health insurance to $30.5 million; a more than  $887,000 increase in retirement to nearly $17.4 million; and almost $1.1 million in debt service increases.

"These increases total over $6 million," he said. "To cover these obligations, the city and School Committee had to make reductions to be within limits of what we can raise through taxes."

The city expects to earn about $115 million in property taxes in FY25 and raise the remaining amount through state aid and local receipts. The budget proposal also includes a $2.5 million appropriation from free cash to offset the tax rate and an $18.5 million appropriation from the water and sewer enterprise had been applied to the revenue stream.

"Our government is not immune to rising costs to impact each of us every day," Marchetti said. "Many of our neighbors in surrounding communities are also facing increases in their budgets due to the same factors."

He pointed to other Berkshire communities' budgets, including a 3.5 percent increase in Adams and a 12 percent increase in Great Barrington. Pittsfield rests in the middle at a 5.4 percent increase.



"I want to make it clear that I think some people misunderstood us when we passed our original petition to ask the mayor to come to as close to level funding as possible taking in all considerations," Ward 1 Councilor Kenneth Warren said.

"We were very successful in what we were doing. We were asking the mayor to focus very closely and I think he did."

He said the council was "spoiled" this year, as the mayor has had several channels of communication with the council, the public, and the media leading up to the budget proposal.

"So I think we're going to have more public involvement and communication on this budget."

Mayor's Office

The Mayor's Office budget of $261,816 was preliminarily approved with little discussion.  It is a $6,019, or 2.35 percent, increase from the previous year.

In his first year in office, Marchetti has proposed three percent raises for himself and the director of administrative services.

Account Name 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval 2024 Approval 2025 Approval
Mayor $100,915 $102,428 $110,000 $115,725 $119,313
Director of Admin Services $59,554 $62,889 $67,605 $70,000 $72,170
Executive Assistant $42,125 $46,516 $50,004 $53,872 $54,133
Markets and Advertising $300 $125 $125 $200 $200
Supplies $2,575 $2,575 $2,450 $2,500 $2,500
Travel $1,000 $0 0 $1,000 $1,000
MA Municipal Association $11,200 $11,500 $11,500 $12,500 $12,500
Total $216,669 $225,908 $242,784 $255,797 $261,816

City Council

The City Council budget of $109,262 was preliminary approved with some discussion.  It is the same as last year's budget.

Councilor at Large Kathy Amuso unsuccessfully motioned to reduce the education and training line by $1,620, which partly funds attendance at the Massachusetts Municipal Association conference.

"I feel like all the departments, not all but many of the departments, seem to make a sacrifice and I think the City Council needs to make a sacrifice," she said.

Amuso was the lone vote in support of the amendment.

Councilor at Large Earl Persip III feels that the small fee to educate councilors and take advantage of networking once a year is "kind of important."

"I don't want to limit someone's options to be able to participate in this because some people may be able to afford to go on their own, some people may not," he said.

"I don't want to limit people who run and do things for City Council because they can't afford to come be part of the conversation so I won't support that."

Warren agreed, saying the conferences have been beneficial, adding that the council has done more in six months than he has seen the body do in years.

"I think the investment is well worth it," he said.

Account Name 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval 2024 Approval 2025 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 $2,420 $2,420 $4,620 $4,620 $4,620
Advertising/Marketing $1,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Total $106,062 $107,062 $109,262 $109,262 $109,262

Veterans

The Veterans Services budget of $826,869 was preliminarily approved with little discussion. It is a $45,823, or 5.25 percent, decrease from the previous year largely due to a $50,000 savings in the program expense.

Account Name 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval 2024 Approval 2025 Approval
Veterans' Agent $53,657 $55,312 $59,460 $62,433 $64,358
Administrative Assistant $33,243 $33,742 $34,248 $37,259 $39,511
Equipment Maintenance $842 $1,400 $1,500 $1,750 $1,750
Rental Expense $6,500 $6,500 $6,500 $6,500 $6,500
Flags $8,600 $8,600 $11,000 $12,000 $12,000
Supplies $3,000 $2,000 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Program Expense $900,000 $900,000 $800,000 $750,000 $700,000
Award and Declarations $300 $250 $250 $250 $250
Total $1,005,650 $1,007,804 $915,458 $872,692 $826,869

City Clerk

The City Clerk's budget of $436,540 was preliminarily approved with little discussion. It is a $28,315, or 6.94 percent, increase from the previous year.

City Clerk Michele Benjamin said some of the line items have gone down because there were three elections to budget for last year and only two this year. There is a proposed significant increase in election workers' pay.

"With early voting in 2020, we had 12,000 people early vote and we only had 10,000 go to the polls so we basically had two elections," Benjamin said.

The council at its meeting last week approved her petition to bump election workers' pay by $5 per hour. This is not included in the proposal.

Account Name 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval 2024 Approval 2025 Approval
City Clerk $72,514 $75,825 $81,511 $87,941 $90,667
Assistant City Clerk $42,056 $43,627 $45,499 $48,440 $51,088
Head Clerk $38,969 $39,706 $40,301 $35,485 $37,425
Assistant Clerk Registrar $34,754 $39,706 $40,332 $48,559 $51,760
Election Officers $26,656 $22,935 $24,696 $35,280 $55,752
Secretary Board $32,229 $33,741 $35,189 $35,485 $36,423
Senior Clerk Typist $35,923 $37,609 $34,247 $35,485 $37,425
Election Custodians $3,000 $2,800 $2,800 $4,200 $3,200
Equipment Maintenance $6,471 $7,173 $6,775 $6,850 $6,900
Election Programming $6,000 $9,000 $6,000 $9,000 $6,600
Rental Expense $700 $700 $500 $700 $600
Education $1,000 $600 $800 $800 $1,200
Advertising & Marketing $500 $2,000 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
City Code Updates $10,000 $8,000 $8,000 $10,000 $10,000
Record Preservation $2,000 $2,000 $6,000 $5,000 $5,000
Supplies $16,500 $23,000 $16,500 $23,000 $19,000
Census $15,000 $16,000 $18,000 $19,500 $21,000
Total $344,272 $363,082 $369,650 $408,225 $436,540

 

Council on Aging

The Council on Aging budget of $411,103 was preliminarily approved without discussion. It is a $19,061, or 4.86 percent increase from the previous year due to contractual obligations.

Account Name 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval 2024 Approval 2025 Approval
Director $61,221 $64,240 $69,057 $74,686 $77,002
Senior Clerk Typist $34,251 $34,898 $34,115 $36,460 $38,453
Admin Assistant/Supervisor $28,084 $34,895 $37,513 $39,233 $40,605
Soc Serv Tech/Custodian $29,267 $30,640 $36,876 $38,667 $40,780
Soc Serv Tech/Custodian (PT) $28,240 $34,546 $38,090 $37,919 $41,026
Program Assistant $35,055 $39,463 $41,181 $44,369 $47,298
Activities Leaders (PT) $11,202 $33,218 $33,330 $38,472 $41,026
Kitchen Coordinator $23,860 $15,600 $18,093 $19,236 $20,513
Temp. Labor $3,485 $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 $5,000
Equipment Maintenance $6,300 $6,300 $7,656 $6,900 $6,900
Building Maintenance $14,000 $15,000 $17,691 $21,000 $22,400
Printing $1,000 $1,000 $1,179 $1,200 $1,200
Supplies $2,500 $2,500 $2,948 $3,000 $3,000
Program Expense $23,900 $23,900 $28,325 $25,900 $25,900
Total $302,365 $341,200 $371,055 $392,042 $411,103

Human Resources

The Human Resources budget of $273,374 was preliminarily approved with little discussion. It is a $15,163, 5.87 percent, increase from the previous year.

Account Name 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval 2024 Approval 2025 Approval
Director of Human Resources $76,951 $90,430 $97,212 $105,135 $108,395
Human Resources Specialist $44,654 $48,452 $52,086 $56,126 $59,829
Training $13,500 $13,500 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Educational Opportunity $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
City Physician/ Medical Services $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000
Online Application Program $5,600 $5,600 $9,750 $9,750 $9,750
Stipend Language Prof $3,000 $3,000 $6,500 $16,200 $18,900
Diversity and Inclusion $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 - -
Postage $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Supplies $3,500 $3,500 $3,500 $3,500 $4,000
Assessment Centers $19,500 $19,500 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Recruitment and Retention - $3,000 $5,000 $7,500 $12,500
Total $201,705 $218,982 $234,048 $258,211 $273,374

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The DEI budget of $186,502 was preliminarily approved with little discussion. It is a $4,648, or 2.56 percent increase from the previous year.

Amuso queried Chief Diversity Officer Michael Obasohan about the $3,000 increase for professional development.

"Now there are more conferences that focus on equity and inclusion and justice that we can attend," he said. "There are a lot more of our employees that would like to attend these conferences."

The councilor also asked if there was any way that the office could work on the school side, as Obasohan is limited to some meetings within the district about equity and discrimination.

"Is there collaboration on the budget that we could have? That's what I'm looking at," she said.

Marchetti said "anything is possible" but it comes down to "what is the role?"

"I know that in my short term in office, [Obasohan] has assisted me with a school-based issue and that's me, I know there are others," he explained.

"But I think if we're going to look for one person to provide diversity equity, and inclusion for all the employees of the city, all the employees of the school department, and 5,200 children, I'm not sure that that's feasible with one person."

Councilor at Large Alisa Costa said there are many people that the department serves, adding "I appreciate the scope of the work that you're doing."

Account Name 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval 2024 Approval 2025 Approval
Chief Diversity Officer - $51,610 $89,803 $96,650 $99,647
Administrative Assistant - $18,250 $47,213 $52,304 $55,755
DEI Ambassadors - $8,400 $8,400 $8,400 $9,600
Contractual Services - $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Recruitment and Retention - $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 $0
Professional Development - $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 $8,000
Supplies - $1,000 $3,000 $3,000 $1,500
Travel & Dues - $500 $1,000 $1,500 $2,000
Total - $99,760 $169,416 $181,854 $186,502

Airport

The Pittsfield Municipal Airport budget of $338,352 was preliminarily approved with some discussion.  It is a $27,137, or 8.72 percent, increase from the previous year.

Persip queried Airport Manager Daniel Shearer on the $12,000 increase in utilities, which is related an increase in the supply rate, and Amuso had questions about the department's city vehicles.

 

Account Name 2021 Approval 2022 Approval 2023 Approval 2024 Approval 2025 Approval
Airport Manager $62,445 $66,265 $71,235 $76,667 $79,044
Assistant Airport Manager $51,566 $54,768 $58,876 $63,423 $67,607
Airport Inspector $41,396 $45,623 $49,045 $52,853 $56,329
Scheduled Overtime $10,000 $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 $10,000 $10,000 $13,000
Utilities $55,000 $55,000 $50,000 $50,000 $62,000
Telephone $2,200 $2,200 $2,000 $2,000 --
Maintenance $28,000 $28,000 $28,000 $30,000 $30,000
Snow Removal $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 $5,000 --
Education & Training $0 $0 $3,000 $2,700 $5,000
Membership and Dues $1,500 $1,500 $700 $1,200 1,500
Supplies $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $4,000
Equipment -- $0 $5,000 $3,000 $3,000
Total $273,479 $284,728 $297,228 $311,215 $333,352

 

 

 


Tags: fiscal 2025,   pittsfield_budget,   

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Lanesborough Has Hot, Quiet Election Day

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

Voting was slow but steady at Lanesborough Town Hall.
LANESBOROUGH, Mass. — The town had a steady and sweltering election day that saw Deborah Maynard elected to the Select Board. 
 
Maynard outpolled Joseph Trybus 181-87 to fill the seat left vacant by longtime board member John Goerlach.
 
About halfway through polling hours, about 150 people had turned out in the 90-degree weather to cast votes for the Select Board, Finance Committee, Planning Board, library trustee, and town moderator. In total, about 400 votes were cast out of the 2,515 registered voters, or about 16 percent.
 
"It's been kind of slow but steady," poll worker Sheila Parks said. "No exciting news, which is good."
 
Town Clerk Ruth Knysh guessed that many would vote after work. Polls opened at noon at Town Hall and closed at 8 p.m.
 
"It's going great. It's been steady since we opened the doors at noontime. No issues at all," she said. "So we're hoping for smooth sailing until eight o'clock tonight."
 
Earlier in the day, there was road construction in front of the town offices that could have been a deterrent, she observed.
 
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