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Pittsfield Budget Hearings Begin Next Week
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
02:14AM / Wednesday, May 27, 2020
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council will begin a review of the proposed $169,537,880 fiscal 2021 operational budget in early June.
 
The council referred the bulk of Tuesday night's agenda to the Committee of the Whole and Council President Peter Marchetti said some, if not all, of these meetings will take place remotely.
 
"At the moment, the meetings of June 2 and June 4 will be via Zoom and we will let folks know about the other three," Marchetti said. "But I would plan on having them all be Zoom meetings."
 
He said hearings will take place June 2, 4, 11, 15 and 17
 
With the COVID-19 pandemic all but resetting the state budget process, the city has had to build a spending plan for next year without information on state aid.
 
The meeting documents contained a brief layout of the departmental budgets that comes to $105,044,180.
 
The school budget of $64,493,700, which was accepted by the School Committee last week, makes up the rest of the proposed operating budget.
 
Mayor Linda Tyer has said in the past that she wanted to make sure the city passed a budget even with questions around state aid. Optimally, state aid would come with an increase but there is a real possibility that education and unrestricted state aid could come in level funded or even decreased.
 
City Council also moved a $750,000 allocation from free cash to reduce the fiscal 2021 tax rate, the use of money from various revolving funds, and the use of $182,000 for parking related expenditures to the budget hearings.
 
The amended fiscal 2020 Community Preservation budget and the fiscal 2021 Community Preservation budget of $1,016,110.94 were also moved to the June hearings.
 
In other business: 
 
The City Council accepted a grant of $6,000 Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety Grant from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security Highway Traffic Safety Division.
 
• The council accepted $15,000 in grant funds from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
 
This grant will be used to conduct an urban street tree assessment in the West Side neighborhood as well as to care for several trees at the Common and in Springside Park.
 
• The City Council accepted the Community Development Block Grant 2021-2025 Consolidated plan that continues much of the work the city has done in the past.
 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell was not present during some of these votes because of technical difficulties.
 
•  The City Council also approved the transfer and appropriation of $125,000 from Retained Earnings-Sewer to the Department of Public Utilities Wastewater Division to cover a deficit under the sludge handling account.
 
It also accepted the Comprehensive Wastewater Management Plan.
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