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Tyer Says State Spending Plans Holds Good News for Pittsfield
By Jack Guerino, iBerkshires Staff
02:35PM / Sunday, August 09, 2020
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Mayor Linda Tyer gave a positive budget update during her regular address Friday on Pittsfield Community Television.
 
Tyer said with the state passing a three-month budget, the city finally has some solid state numbers for local and education aid — and its good news.
 
"With those two funding sources being restored, we are in a much better financial position then we anticipated we would be in when the City Council approved the budget in June," she said. 
 
The school and city passed operating budgets in June based on level or reduced amounts of state aid and administrators are still prepared for this funding to come in lower. 
 
The school will receive $48.1 million in Chapter 70 education funds and the city will receive $9.1 million in unrestricted local aid.
 
Included in the state spending plan was a joint resolution that established aid for cities and towns for the entire fiscal year.
 
"We can move forward with a better picture of our finances," Tyer said. 
 
Tyer also gave an update on Springside Park and said it is still the city’s position that the homeless who have camped at the park will be allowed to stay.
 
"The city's position will continue to be ... to treat our homeless brothers and sisters with dignity and respect while we continue to look for ways to provide safe, stable, secure housing. At the same time, we understand and recognize the concern of the use of this public space in this way," she said.
 
The mayor said her administration is working toward a solution with local agencies and will unveil plans to solve the problem in the near future.
 
In the interim, people can donate items to ServiceNet and arrange a drop off by calling 413-448-5353.   
 
Tyer reminded residents that the state is still in Phase 3 of reopening and urged them to continue practicing social distancing and other health protocols.
 
She said infection numbers in the city remain low and that in the last two weeks, there have been only 15 new cases.
 
She asked the resident to be mindful of the new travel restrictions.
 
"Locally we need to remain vigilant ... by working together to address the challenges in these safety measures, we will do our best to prevent COVID-19 from setting us back," Tyer said.  
 
She said she was happy to announce that city has distributed $464,157 in COVID-19 Recovery Funds and has helped 62 small businesses.
 
"I am pleased that these funds will help support the vitality and longevity of our cities small businesses that are an integral part of Pittsfield’s success," she said. 
 
She said this money has kept many businesses afloat during the pandemic and has saved an estimated 286 jobs.   
 
Tyer gave an update on the School Committee's decision to shift toward a hybrid education model for the fall and noted the resignation of Superintendent Jason McCandless.
 
"We were truly privileged to have had an outstanding and dedicated leader at the helm," she said. "Our school community and district reflect Dr. McCandless' steady and compassionate style of management. We will miss him and we wish him all the best."
 
McCandless was hired as the Mount Greylock Regional School District superintendent and will leave the district in three months.
 
She also lamented the passing of resident Alden "Elie" Hammerling.
 
"Elie loved Pittsfield and always sought out ways to bring out the best in our city," she said. "... Indeed his legacy lives on and we as a community are better because of him."   
 
Hammerling was responsible for the Berkshire Landscapes Project that was illuminating the downtown with LED lighting.
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