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Berkshire Planning Commission Plans In-Person Annual Meeting
By Brittany Polito, iBerkshires Staff
02:19PM / Saturday, May 14, 2022
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Regional Planning Commission plans to have its 2022 annual meeting in person for the first time in three years.

The meeting was held virtually last year and took a hiatus the year before, both because of the COVID-19 pandemic that significantly impacted towns and businesses. 

The event is staged for the end of September.

This year, the planners did run into issues with inflated costs and are looking into alternate venues after getting a higher than expected estimate from a local country club.

"One of the other items the Commission Development Committee did take up at their meeting was to recommend the annual meeting be held on Thursday, Sept. 29, as an in-person event," Executive Director Thomas Matusko reported at Thursday's meeting of the Executive Committee.

"This should be a combination meeting with our September commission meeting, which we've done in the past, and it would be jointly with the Berkshire County Selectmen's Association.

"Subsequent to that Commission Development Committee meeting though, we did learn that the prices have gone up substantially per person and before we made a commitment, we wanted to make sure that the commission was agreeable to that, I think the estimate was around $60 per person, the cost, and I don't think that the attendees would pay that number one, so there would probably have to subsidize part of that, and then we do offer a fair amount of complimentary admissions to that."

The committee voted for BRPC staff to continue to evaluate options for the dinner that will potentially involve a $4,000 to $6,000 budget, recognizing that the original estimate for an admission fee may not be accessible.

Pittsfield alternate CJ Hoss pointed out that they want people to attend and spoke in support of subsidizing the cost.

"I think it's a good idea to be prepared and subsidize the cost if we want," he said. "I think the goal here is like all of our events, we want more people attending and participating."

The event traditionally includes a meal, speakers, and the presentation of the Kusik Award that recognizes projects, groups, or individuals who made outstanding contributions to planning in Berkshire County.

Last year, it featured Undersecretary of Community Development Ashley Stolba as a guest speaker.

It usually draws around 75 attendees, Matusko said.

Peru delegate Samuel Haupt suggested pricing the tickets at around $25 with a couple of different menu options, a cash bar, and the rest of the ticket cost subsidized.  

Williamstown alternate Roger Bolton suggested looking into Berkshire Community College as a venue.  The college has a number of large facilities and has undergone recent upgrades.

Matusko accepted the recommendations and agreed to keep working on the event. There were no determinations on the cost of tickets made during the meeting.

He did recognize the unexpected nature of COVID-19 trends and the possibility of it affecting the event.

"I think that's fine, we can keep working on it," he said.

"I think one of the concerns, though, again, is are we going to be out of COVID, and is there still people's fear about COVID? So I think that's something we have to be concerned about, if we do make a reservation, we probably have to be comfortable that we might lose that deposit because of the COVID, but we can look, I think the idea of BCC is actually somewhat intriguing."

BRPC will be presented with the fiscal 2023 budget for approval at the full commission meeting next week.

Last week, the Finance Committee gave the $5,379,584 budget a positive recommendation. It has increased by about $886,000 from this year largely due to grants for economic development, housing, environmental and energy, and public health programs.

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