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Pittsfield Budget Review Day 3: Police, Fire Approved Easily
By Andy McKeever, iBerkshires Staff
09:37PM / Monday, May 21, 2018
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The City Council approved six more budgets on Thursday.

Day 3

POSTED: Tuesday, May 21, 2018 at 9:37 p.m

PITTSFIELD, Mass. - The City Council preliminarily approved another four departmental budgets on Monday, including police and fire, two of the larger departments.
As it has been for the last few years, the majority of the discussion centered around overtime in the Police Department. Chief Michael Wynn said for years that budget has been underfunded and that is proposed to continue again in fiscal year 2019. 
The city had bolstered that account a few years back, raising it from $600,000 to $900,000, and has added additional staffing in the last year. But, the trends are continuing as more than $1 million had already been expended this year.
"The entire time I have been the chief that line has been underbudgeted," Wynn said.
At the end of every fiscal year, the city's finance team tends to ask for a line item transfer to cover that gap. This year Wynn said the plan is to use some savings saw in the patrol officer budget line to make that up.
And that scheduled overtime line isn't the only overtime being expended. The special investigations overtime line was budgeted at $72,000 and the department has already spent $132,000. 
"Those are large scale investigations," Wynn said, saying it the largest one this past year was a large human trafficking investigation.
Mayor Linda Tyer said the department has been historically underbudgeting and hoping to come in under. This year she said she didn't have the flexibility to change that but increasing the Police Department's budget for that. Nor was she willing to budget to hire more officers to help combat that.
"In the course of our discussion from this year, I had to limit the number of new officers that I am comfortable to budget for," Tyer said. "We still have to make slow progress under the circumstances."
However, the mayor did say that if the council wants to increase those lines she is willing to revisit the request.
Wynn has routinely said the department is understaffed, citing the need for 120 officers. On a given occasion, he said 10 percent of the staff is out so in reality that 120 would be 108 active officers. But, the department has only 89 working officers and has the authorization to only hire up to 99.
Two years ago Tyer had proposed an increase in staffing for the department and Wynn has been going through the process since. He said he has a half dozen more officers in the pipeline to be hired. 
But, it would be that 120 number he'd be wanting to hit in order to make a real dent in the overtime accounts. He said with those hires he could not only staff the shifts that are needed but could hire detectives to work the weekend whereas now, detectives are called in on overtime for weekend investigations.
"Our bureau is not large enough to support having full coverage 7 days a week. We'd have to have three additional personnel to cover those shifts," Wynn said. 
The Fire Department, however, has been able to curb its overtime somewhat. Last year the city won a federal grant which pays for eight new officers. That has allowed the department to drop that budget from $700,000 to $400,000. 
However, that grant expires at the end of February 2019 and the city will then have to take on that salary. That's leading to a $395,693 increase in the budget for firefighters.
"It brought our staffing up to where we can absorb people going on holidays, vacations, sick leave and things like that without having to go to overtime," Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said.
That is Okay with Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, who said that'll help keep the firefighters refreshed.
iBerkshires has been following the budget discussions. There are more details about each budget line below.


The $79,061 budget for RSVP is decreasing by $753. The biggest change to the budget is that $853 that had been budgeted for insurance in the membership and dues line is now being transferred to the city's unclassified budget - where the majority of the other insurance items are kept.
"It is consistent to what we've done with other insurance matters," Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said.
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell did pose a few questions about some of the smaller lines in the budget. The budget for travel is $1,000 but so far, Connell said on $69 was spent. He wondered if the city even needed a travel line.
RSVP Director Jeffrey Roucoulet said that line has historically been spent but this year a national conference in Washington D.C. did not happen and that had been a large driver of that line. He said there is a two-day conference in New Hampshire he will be attended soon which will raise the current year's expense up a bit more.
"Sometimes are there more conferences than others, so just in case," he said.
Connell then turned his attention to a $2,500 line for volunteer recognition. Again he said less than half of that line was spent and there are only a few weeks left in the fiscal year.
Roucoulet said recognizing the volunteers is one of the most important things the department does. In October, the department holds the RSVP volunteer recognition luncheon and that is typically booked around this time of the year. While it appears that not much of the budget has been spent yet, he said more will be expended on that as the planning takes shape.
Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo repeated questions about pay increases, as she has during the first two budget hearings as well. The city had made some changes to the pay scale but those aren't uniformly reflected in the budget for various reasons. Mazzeo posed questions trying to figure out how the director's 4.1 percent increase broke down.
Kerwood said the position is partly offset by grant funding so that percentage won't reflect the cost of living and step increases evenly because the increase is only on the city's share - not the entire salary. 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Director of RSVP $34,793 $34,984 $34,984 $36,486
Volunteer Coordinator $15,381 $15,948 $15,753 $14,685
Administrative Assistant $16,910 $18,851 $19,638 $19,703
Membership and Dues $300 $1,121 $1,253 $400
Postage $400 $400 $400 $500
Staff Training $457 $300 $300 $300
Advertising $0 $0 $0 $0
Telephone $350 $6 $6 $6
Supplies $1,900 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Staff Travel $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Volunteer Recognition $2,500 $2,500 $2,500 $2,500
Equipment and Copier Lease $2,947 $1,981 $1,981 $1,981
Total $76,938 $78,591 $79,045 $79,061



Police Chief Michael Wynn answered a number of questions about the Police Department's overtime budgets.
The $10,033,243 Police Department budget is increasing by $233,194. The biggest discussion was on overtime, both with detectives investigating big cases or patrolmen filling shifts - as detailed further up in this story. The mayor said she'd be open to discussing raising those overtime budget lines if the council wants. 
For the only motion of the evening, Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo attempted to reduce the budget line for the new finance and admin manager job by $37.
But, the motion failed by a 7-4 margin - with Mazzeo, Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell, Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli, and Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi in favor but all else opposed.
The new position isn't so much new but a shift in responsibilities. The department had a job for administrative duties such as payroll and that is now expanding to become a supervisor position. That administrator had often been working weekends to get paperwork filed on time and Police Chief Michael Wynn said on average some $25,000 a year was being paid out in overtime.
The employee is now taking an expanded role by handling some duties that a captain had been doing in the past. This new job will include overseeing three immediate workers and two indirectly. The person will also sit on the department's command staff and have a roll in handling such things as discipline.
"They're becoming a manager. They are becoming a supervisor. They will be taking on more responsibility," Wynn said.
In crafting the position, Wynn had estimated that it would cost about $60,000 and put that into the budget. Once the position worked its way through the Personnel Review Board, the actual step and classification were determined. That would put the starting rate at $59,963, to which Mazzeo motioned to reduce the line.
"I just think it should follow the payscale exactly how it is," Mazzeo said.
However, Council President Peter Marchetti said that since the employee would be eligible for a step raise in six months to $61,461, that position is actually underfunded.
The Auxiliary Police were not funded in this budget. Wynn said the department is "on stand down" at this moment and the funds hadn't been spent for the last couple years.
"We will have to reexamine the auxiliary police if we want to stand them back up and look for funds," Wynn said.
Mazzeo questioned an unfunded line for limited duty officers. Wynn said that had been created as a placeholder in case an employee was out on leave but could return to work on a limited basis. The salary would just be transferred there.
Mazzeo, however, said with a number of people out she wished that line could be used more. But, Wynn said by contract the officers can only come back on limited basis voluntarily. And even then, it can be difficult to get the accompanying documentation needed from doctors. And, thus, the line hasn't been used.
The Police Budget isn't seeing a $101,337 reduction in its line for police officers. Wynn said the department has hired a number of new staff members in the last two years. But, there has also been a lot of retirements as well. The newer officers are paid less than those who had been there for years.
"The new officers coming in the door are costing us less than the officers going out the door," Wynn said.
The council questioned an increase in uniforms. Wynn said in the past the department budgeted for bulk purchasing of uniforms. But, that became difficult. In the most recent contract negotiations, the union agreed to go on a per-officer basis and how much per officer had to be negotiated. The figure was settled higher than Wynn had budgeted last year - but the chief noted it was below what the union was asking.
The budget for ammunition is also increasing. The budget had been for bullets but with a recent occurrence, Wynn said there had been requests that the department increases its non-lethal force. The new budget calls for training and equipping more officers with tasers.
Mazzeo also questioned some rearranging of the document. For example, the drug enforcement line had been recorded by the Finance Department to comply with accounting standards. The line number had indicated an expense but in reality, it was salaries. There were three lines in the Police Department that were not classified properly by the number and those were switched. 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Police Chief $115,000 $115,000 $115,000 $118,476
Police Captains $248,262 $251,062 $251,062 $261,055
Police Lieutenants $384,362 $398,965 $405,734 $414,243
Police Sergeants $724,849 $872,117 $872,117 $910,212
Safety Officer $65,703 $66,414 $66,414 $69,329
Detectives $451,356 $516,140 $516,140 $516,140
Patrol Officers $3,356,910 $3,720,166 $3,720,166 $3,618,829
Mechanic $48,100 $48,100 $49,662 $52,050
Drug Enforcement $140,315 $180,000 $225,000 $225,000
Dispatchers $523,680 $523,680 $523,680 $523,680
Animal Control Officer $58,460 $58,460 $62,542 $64,963
Special Response Team $12,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Custodian $31,490 $35,306 $37,818 $39,418
Finance and Admin Manager (new)       $60,000
Sr. Clerk Typist/Conf. $115,718 $116,357 $116,668 $77,782
Senior Clerk Typist $68,926 $68,926 $70,256 $72,364
Animal Control Comm Clerk $2,000 $2,000 $1,000 $1,000
Matrons $1,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Temporary Labor $10,000 $15,000 $15,000 $0
Auxiliary Police $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $0
Special Investigation OT $40,000 $40,000 $40,000 $42,800
Special Events OT $150,000 $150,000 $125,000 $120,000
Scheduled Overtime $600,000 $900,000 $900,000 $900,000
Dispatchers OT $81,783 $110,000 $110,000 $110,000
Crime Analyst $46,735 $49,390 $49,390 $52,689
Information/Technology Mgr. $51,291 $51,291 $0 $0
Police Science $1,125,126 $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $1,214,413
In Service $70,000 $70,000 $70,000 $70,000
Insurance Deductibles $15,000 $0 $0 $0
Animal Control Testing Fees $200 $200 $200 $200
Uniforms $30,000 $60,000 $60,000 $86,600
Maintenance/Support $165,000 $185,000 $185,000 $195,000
Police Education $20,000 $20,000 $15,000 $15,000
Shipping/Postage $800 $1,200 $1,200 $500
Printing $2,000 $3,000 $3,000 $2,000
Traffic Enforcement EQ $0 $0 $0 $0
K9 Care and Supplies $5,500 $5,500 $5,500 $5,500
Office Supplies $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Drug Enforcement Expenses $10,000 $15,000 $15,000 $15,000
Ammunition $12,000 $15,000 $15,000 $25,000
Special Investigation Expenses $3,000 $4,500 $4,500 $4,000
Care of Prisoners $5,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Custodial Supplies $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Equipment $30,000 $45,000 $45,000 $45,000
Fleet Maintenance $40,000 $45,000 $45,000 $45,000
Total $8,884,566 $9,820,774 $9,800,049 $10,033,243

Fire Department

Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski's budget passed easily.
The Fire Department budget of $7,339,387 is going up by $313,353. The largest driver of that increase is $395,693 for firefighters.
The city had a federal grant to hire eight new firefighters. But, that grant is expiring at the end of February and the city will take on those salaries.
Other than that, Ward 3 Councilor Nicholas Caccamo asked about the department's technical rescue operations. That had been cut in the past and Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said recently the department has been getting more involved with a regional group.
That is requiring the department to pay more for its firefighters to attend training for such operations.
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Fire Chief $99,340 $99,340 $99,775 $103,371
Deputy Fire Chiefs $357,500 $363,103 $363,235 $396,000
Fire Captains $756,472 $1,004,000 $831,669 $897,000
Fire Lieutenants $982,243 $980,000 $1,020,000 $1,088,855
Firefighters $3,527,764 $3,358,000 $3,320,307 $3,716,000
Head Clerk $33,365 $34,575 $32,025 $33,340
Master Mechanic $32,050 $68,470 $68,470 $72,975
Principal Clerk $30,065 $31,016 $32,350 $32,846
Office Manager $37,010 $38,358 $40,203 $42,000
Emergency Apparatus Staffing $30,000 $30,000 $50,000 $30,000
Emergency Manning $550,000 $700,000 $700,000 $400,000
Assuming Additional Response $24,200 $24,200 $30,000 $25,000
Uniforms $88,475 $109,000 $139,000 $120,000
Maintenance General $12,100 $12,100 $13,000 $13,000
Vehicle Maintenance $140,000 $140,000 $140,000 $200,000
Medical Maintenance $13,000 $13,000 $13,000 $13,000
Education and Training $15,000 $15,000 $25,000 $20,000
Arson Investigation $4,000 $4,000 $4,000 $10,000
Supplies $7,500 $8,000 $8,000 $8,000
Equipment $30,000 $30,000 $30,000 $30,000
Equipment Replacement $35,000 $35,000 $35,000 $35,000
CAD License/Maint/Admin Fees $26,855 $29,000 $31,000 $53,000
Total $6,831,939 $7,126,162  $7,026,034 $7,339,387

Emergency Management

The $26,400 emergency management budget is level funded. 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell asked about the emergency operations center, which so far this year hadn't been entirely spent. Fire Chief Robert Czerwinski said that money is allocated to maintain space at the Berkshire County House of Corrections in case of a large disaster. He said there is equipment there that needs to be serviced in the next few weeks.
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Deputy Director of Emergency Management $2,250 $0 $0 $0
Utilities $1,000 $0 $0 $0
Education and Training $500 $500 $500 $500
Code Red $30,000 $22,500 $23,000 $23,000
Supplies $100 $100 $100 $100
Emergency Operating Center $1,500 $2,800 $2,800 $2,800
Radio Amateur $150 $0 $0 $0
Radio Citizen $150 $0 $0 $0
Total $28,060 $25,900 $26,400 $26,400


Original Post: Thursday, May 17, 2018, at 4:00 a.m.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The City Council is reviewing the mayor's proposed $167.6 million spending plan.

The budget reflects a $2.8 million, or 1.8 percent, increase from the current year. The city's appropriation will be $159.9.
The proposed operating budget is requested to be $148,465,621, which is $3.4 million more than last year, and the enterprise account budgets are eyed to be $11,531,024, which is a $154,529 increase. Those account for the $159,996,645 the City Council needs to appropriate.
Meanwhile, other expenditures will be dropping from $8,331,641 last year to $7,656,831 this year - a decline of $674,810 or 8.1 percent. The other expenditures line consists of a number of items such as assessments, school choice, and other cherry sheet offsets to state aid. Typically these are items charged against the city's state aid prior to disbursement as well as retained earnings from the enterprise funds.
The revenues will be mostly property taxes to the tune of $87,366,669. The city is receiving $52,437,070 in state aid. Local receipts make up $11,918,370 of the revenue and enterprise funds - water and sewer bills - make up for $11,531,024. The city is expecting $2,980,343 from the Massachusetts School Building Authority. And the city is using, $1,420,000 in other revenue - which is mostly $1 million in free cash to offset the tax rate but also include such things as court fines, bond proceeds, and federal funds.
The city had been bumping close to what is known as the levy ceiling, a restriction on how much the city can collect in property taxes.  For that, there is no override possibility and just a few years ago, the city was close to hitting that cap. At this time last year, the City Council approved a budget leaving the city just $175,839 short of the cap. 
But, there was a re-evaluation of taxable property which showed increases nearly across the board with an overall 3.5 percent increase in property values. Those increased property values raise the city's levy ceiling and with this proposed budget, the city would be approximately $636,000 under the cap. 
"I'm pleased to report that we have witnessed some positive upward trends in our community," said Mayor Linda Tyer. 
The mayor said the housing market has been showing high demand for homes in the $150,000 to $250,000 range. Further, she said a recent parcel in the Downing Industrial Parkway that had been sitting on the market for a number of years had not only been sold, but there was a bidding war on it. Those are examples of positive signs for the city's property values, she said.
But raising property values isn't the only focus auditors had suggested toward helping the city maneuver from under the ceiling. For years, the city had been setting aside a couple million dollars of free cash to help keep tax rates lower. Auditors, however, have warned that the city had low reserves, which could hurt the bond rating. The excess levy capacity is seen by bond rating companies as a type of reserve as is free cash.
The auditors also said free cash is a one-time revenue because the amount can't be predicted from year to year and should instead be spent on one-time expenses - which could be contributions to reserve accounts.
Mayor Linda Tyer is proposing using $1 million in free cash, which is more than half of what the mayor had proposed just two years ago. The mayor said using less free cash to offset the tax rate is now a "policy" within the administration to help build reserves.
This budget is particularly driven by an increase in health insurance, retirement contributions, long-term debt, and an increase in solid waste collection and disposal control. Those account for more than $3 million worth of increases in fixed costs. The mayor said that for the rest of the budget, 11 of the departments are either level-funded or seeing a cut.
The mayor did highlight efforts her administration has taken to mitigate the rising costs. She boasted that her administration has been able to settle seven union contracts, most of which were below similar contracts elsewhere - she had also credited the unions for recognizing the city's financial picture and being willing to help through those negotiations.
She also cited the recent six-year agreement with the Public Employees Committee on health insurance, which is estimated to have cut the expected health insurance increase by $1.5 million for the city. 
One thing that is drastically different this year budget than last year is that it does not call for layoffs. Last year, the school system was particularly hit by the budget and nearly 70 staff positions were reduced. 
Some of those positions are returning with the mayor's plan through the school budget. The city is seeing a $1 million increase in state aid for schools this year. The School Department's proposed budget calls for a $426,531 increase to bring back kindergarten paraprofessionals that were laid off last year and bolster a therapeutic program for certain elementary school children with individualized education plans. The current programs will be brought under one roof at Crosby and then additional staffing will add more structure and focus to those students.
"This program will serve students in K-5 by providing a safe, personalized, education experience," Tyer said.
The budget also calls for the creation of a new diversity and inclusion program in the personnel department. That focuses on recruiting and retaining a diverse workplace. Similar to the way the school's initiative is offset by an increase in state aid, this initiative is offset by the department's reduction in using assessment centers for civil service positions after using it a number of times this past year to fill top jobs in the Police Department, including the chief.
"The budget is more than a spending plan. It is a policy document that supports our mission," Mayor Linda Tyer said.
The mission is to build a city filled with compassion, is welcoming, and modern for those who live here now and in the future, the mayor said. However, the city isn't rolling out a significant number of new initiatives as it continues "to be challenged  in the form of the levy ceiling constraint."
In the coming year the mayor she will review a comprehensive and independent study of the city's operations which looks for more efficiencies, identify reductions, and possible reorganization of some operations. She also is planning a home improvement program to incentivize residents to improve homes, and thus improve the property values more.
"A great deal of work remains in order for us to stabilize our situation," Tyer said. "I'm optimistic that we are on the right path and we will thrive beyond these fiscal constrictions."
The  City Council now will review each and every expense through a series of budget meeting.



Day 1

POSTED: Thursday, May 17, 2018, at 4:00 a.m.

Director of Personnel Michael Taylor fielded a handful of questions regarding salary increases on Wednesday. Of the six budgets reviewed, four of them say overall increases all of which is attributed to the payscales.
The first day of the budget hearings was fairly quick and painless. The City Council approved a half-dozen department budgets without changing any line items.
Of the six departments, four of those are proposed to see an increase. However, the increases are all related to personnel. All of the budgets reviewed Wednesday night were either level-funded for non-personnel related expenses or cut.
The salaries for employees are either contractually obligated or driven by policies voted on by the City Council.
The council did pose some questions to various lines. The city has made a number of changes to its pay scale over the last year years and new contracts were settled. Thus, with different bargaining units, employees moving to different pay scales, and giving some employees cost of living increases, created somewhat of a hodgepodge of percentage increases. 
Nonetheless, the City Council quickly approved budgets for the half-dozen departments posing only minor questions.



Mayor's Office

The mayor's office budget of $207,501 is up by $6,655 from last year. 
More than that was increased for salaries for the three positions - the mayor, the director of administrative services, and the executive assistant. Those salary increases total $7,049. The office's budget cuts supplies and travel for a total of $394.
The latter two positions both saw a 5.6 percent increase in salary. Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo questioned how that broke down. 
Director of Personnel Michael Taylor said that increase is due to the City Council's earlier decision for a cost of living increase for non-exempt employees. The move was made to move the entire salary scale - not for the individual positions. The council had voted across the move the entire management pay scale up by 1.5 percent for last year and 1.5 percent for the upcoming year. 
Those increases are added to whatever step increases the employees have been eligible.
"It represents the cost of living adjustments as well as a step increase," Kerwood said.
Mazzeo voted against the cost of living increases and repeated her objections Wednesday night.
"This whole budget is pretty bare bones except for all of these increases in salaries. I feel this is not the best time to be doing this," Mazzeo said.
The mayor's salary has seen its first increase since Tyer had taken office and shows a 2.1 percent increase. The City Council had voted on a policy years ago to increase the position's salary alongside the consumer price index. However, Tyer had not been accepting the raise and hadn't been writing it into the budget. 
Last year, Council Vice President John Krol noted that lack of movement in the salary, saying that by not taking the increase that undermined the council's policy intended to keep the position's pay in line with inflation.
Account Name 2016  Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Mayor $91,540 $95,000 $95,000 $96,998
Director of Admin Services $53,095 $52,195 $53,092 $56,064
Executive Assistant $38,355 $36,658 $37,285 $39,364
Markets and Advertising $2,000 $500 $250 $300
Supplies $3,500 $3,500 $2,922 $2,775
Travel $5,000 $2,000  $1,297 $1,000
MA Municipal Association $10,200 $11,000 $11,000 $11,000
Total $203,690 $200,853 $200,846 $207,501

City Council

The City Council's budget of $103,892 remains level.
Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo posed a question to the advertising budget. That is legal advertisements the state requires the city to post for public hearings.
Mazzeo pointed out that so far 83 percent of that budget line had been spent. And she questioned which hearings are required to be paid by the city. City Clerk Michele Cetti said that when it comes to hearings regarding a commercial property, the company pays for those. But, the city pays the cost of such things as Wednesday's notice of a public hearing on the budget. Cetti said the bill to advertise Wednesday's hearing is $212. 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018  Approval 2019 Approval
Councilors $90,002 $90,002 $90,002 $90,002
Clerk of the City Council $4,000 $4,000 $4,000 $4,000
Clerk of Committees $8,640 $8,640 $8,640 $8,640
Advertising/Marketing $1,250 $1,250 $1,250 $1,250
Total $103,892 $103,892 $103,892 $103,892

City Solicitor

The City Solicitor's budget of $222,007 is increasing by $4,194, which is entirely for the salary increase of the executive legal secretary. For the last two years, the city has been contracting with Donovan and O'Connor for legal services, a switch from previously have an in-house person serving in the role.
That contract is set to expire in June. Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell pressed the mayor to put that contract out to bid. But, the mayor said she has no intentions of doing so.
"I would think that in order to save the taxpayers money I think it would be a good idea," Connell said. "I think it would be appropriate and show good faith to the taxpayers if we sent it out to bid."
The council also questioned the reduction of $1 from the city solicitor salary line and the assistant city solicitor line. Both of those were placeholders because the roles were being filled by the contract but a person hadn't been occupying those roles.
Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said that he zeroed those lines out because the positions are still in city code. He said there is no reason to put a dollar there as a placeholder.
"For whatever reason, that became a practice but it is not a necessity," Kerwood said.
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
City Solicitor $77,472 $1 $1 $0
Assistant City Solicitor $35,218 $1 $1 $0
Executive Legal Secretary $39,210 $39,011 $39,011 $43,207
Tax Title Litigation $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Supplies $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Law Library $11,500 $11,500 $11,500 $11,500
Legal Fees and Court Costs $60,000 $162,000 $162,000 $162,000
Legal Settlements $0 $0 $0 $0
Equipment Maintenance $2,800 $2,800 $2,800 $2,800
Total $228,700 $217,813 $217,813 $222,007

City Clerk

The city clerk's budget of $329,128 is $2,606 more than the current year. All of it is attributed to salary raised for just about everybody in the department. However, the City Clerk and the assistant clerk registrar salaries are decreasing. 
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell motioned to cut the line for city code updates by $3,000 but failed to get the majority of councilors on board. His motion failed 7-4. Connell said only about half of the budget is expected to be spent this year given the actuals so far. City Clerk Michele Cetti, however, said that figure is difficult to predict from year to year.
"We don't know how many updates there will be done to the code. It is done periodically. It depends on how many ordinances are passed, that will determine the cost," Cetti said.
Connell, however, said he would rather see the line budgeted more closely to the previous year's actuals than overbudgeting and having whatever is left roll into free cash.
"I think to overestimate our expenses and at times underestimate our revenues so it goes to free cash, I am not in favor of that. I like to keep things as close as we can without burning bridges," Connell said.
Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli questioned election custodians. He said what that $2,754 expense is used for. Cetti said that an extra custodian is required at the polling places during elections in case there are any issues in the building. 
"They are city custodians. It is an overtime shift," Cetti said.
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
City Clerk $65,625 $67,264 $68,682 $67,607
Assistant City Clerk $39,090 $40,668 $43,350 $45,104
Head Clerk $34,885 $36,099 $36,634 $37,183
Assistant Clerk Registrar $36,180 $36,483 $36,211 $33,373
Election Officers $34,314 $26,516 $22,932 $24,696
Secretary Board $32,550 $33,862 $31,120 $32,381
Senior Clerk Typist $26,590 $26,980 $28,048 $29,185
Registrars Board $2,400 $0 $0 $0
Licensing Board $2,950 $0 $0 $0
Election Custodians $3,600 $2,600 $2,700 $2,754
Equipment Maintenance $5,424 $6,300 $6,300 $6,300
Election Programming $9,000 $5,600 $4,936 $4,936
Election Rentals $1,200 $900 $705 $705
Education and Training $1,000 $1,500 $1,000 $1,000
Advertising and Marketing $500 $500 $500 $500
City Code Updates $10,000 $10,000 $10,000 $10,000
Records Preservation $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Supplies $23,000 $13,500 $16,404 $16,404
Census $15,000 $15,750 $15,000 $15,000
Total $345,308 $326,522 $326,522 $329,128


Council on Aging

The Council on Aging budget of $300,414 is $7,762 more than last year. Salaries for all positions are increasing by $9,159 while other expenses are decreasing by $1,397.
Ward 7 Councilor Anthony Simonelli,, Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi and Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell both had objections to the salary increase for the director position. That position is seeing a $1,599 increase from $52,010 to $54,509. But, Director Vincent Marinaro is retiring from the job after eight years and a new person will be hired for it. Simonelli and Connell both disliked that whoever is taking the place of the longtime employee will be making more than the retiring Marinaro.
Director of Personnel Michael Taylor said that is the base salary for that position and is what Marinaro would be making if he stayed on the job.
Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo noticed that the pay increases for various employees are at different percentages. Taylor responded saying that is driven by a combination of factors. Some of the workers have different bargaining groups with different contractual obligations while others are in line for step raises. And yet others fall into the category of non-exempt employees receiving the cost of living increases. 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Director $52,910 $52,910 $52,910 $54,509
Senior Clerk Typist $30,680 $30,897 $31,180 $32,709
SDC Assistant $22,935 $23,558 $23,558 $25,233
Soc Serv Tech/Custodian $31,440 $31,665 $32,000 $32,867
Soc Serv Tech/Custodian (PT) $25,280 $25,377 $25,377 $25,967
Program Assistant $32,125 $32,125 $32,125 $33,490
Activities Leaders (PT) $21,545 $21,545 $21,545 $22,017
Kitchen Coordinator $22,490 $22,490 $22,490 $23,449
Temp. Labor $4,000 $4,000 $3,382 $3,484
Equipment Maintenance $6,435 $6,435 $6,435 $6,000
Building Maintenance $13,500 $13,500 $13,500 $13,400
Printing $1,300 $1,300 $1,300 $888
Supplies $3,000 $3,000 $2,500 $2,500
Program Expense $24,350 $24,350 $24,350 $23,900
Total $291,990 $293,152 $292,652 $300,414


Veterans Services

Veterans Service Office James Clark was the only budget reviewed on Wednesday that is reduced from the prior year.

The Veterans Services budget is decreasing by $31,981.

The $1,051,073 budget is seeing its biggest decrease in program expenses to the tune of $37,750. 

The budget did see an increase in the veterans' agent salary, but a reduction in the administrative assistant salary. It has an increase fo rental expenses and flags but a decrease in office equipment maintenance, supplies, and awards and declarations. 


The budget is the only one reviewed on Wednesday night to see an overall reduction.

Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell had nothing but praise the budget requested by Veterans Service Officer James Clark.
Connell said the changes to the budget reflect accurate spending for the current year and he believes all budget should more closely align with the actual totals from a previous year.
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Veterans' Agent $48,100 $48,100 $48,100 $52,061
Administrative Assistant $27,235 $28,333 $29,478 $27,112
Temporary Labor $0 $0 $0 $0
Equipment Maintenance $650 $975 $975 $0
Rental Expense $6,700 $6,700 $0 $5,900
Education and Training $0 $0 $0 $0
Flags $2,000 $2,000 $0 $1,500
Supplies $2,000 $2,000 $3,000 $2,000
Program Expense $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $962,250
Award and Declarations $300 $300 $300 $250
Total $1,086,985 $1,088,456 $1,081,853 $1,051,073


Cultural Development

The Culture Development budget of $108,558 is increasing by $3,473. The entire increase is for salaries for the director and the administrative assistant to the tune of $4,173. Offsetting that increase somewhat includes $700 worth of cuts to the supplies and telephone budget lines.
The City Council passed that without discussion.
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Director $52,910 $52,910 $52,910 $55,872
Administrative Assistant $20,480 $29,981 $30,375 $31,586
Tourism Administrator $13,240 $0 $0 $0
Building Maintenance $0 $0 $0 $0
Contractual Services $4,000 $5,000 $4,000 $4,000
Tourism Expenses $12,000 $12,000 $12,000 $12,000
Visitor Center Expenses $1,000 $500 $500 $300
Supplies $3,500 $3,500 $3,000 $3,000
Telephone $800 $800 $800 $800
Travel and Dues $1,500 $1,500 $1,000 $1,000
Equipment Building $0 $0 $0 $0
Total $109,430 $106,191 $104,585 $108,558

Day 2

POSTED: Thursday, May 17, 2018, at 11:18 p.m.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — On the second day of budget hearings, Councilors Melissa Mazzeo and Christopher Connell took aim at employee salaries.
The City Council overall made no changes to another half dozen departmental budgets Thursday night, but the two councilors posed a number of questions and expressed frustration regarding pay increases for a number of employees. 
The council doesn't have the ability to change salaries because it is either contractual or by city policy, which Mazzeo feels limits the council's ability to make reductions to the budget. 
"So much of the increase is salary in every one of these budgets," Mazzeo said. "I'm frustrated because so much is out of our hands and there is nothing we can cut."
The six departmental budgets reviewed Thursday all had increases for personnel and all but one saw decreases in what it spends on other expenses. And that one budget with an increase in expenses, the increase was related to a newly agreed upon union contract. 
The negotiation of contracts is done by the administrative branch of city government. Mayor Linda Tyer said she meets with the union representatives, attorneys, and the Personnel Department to hash out a deal. She said she has settled seven contracts since taking office.
"We meet. We establish goals. The other side establishes goals. We come to the table and negotiate," the mayor said when asked about the negotiation process.
As a counselor, Mazzeo said she doesn't like that she's being asked to appropriate the funds for those contracts but has no say in the content. 
The city had recently approved cost of living increases for management positions, which are applied to the salary scale, specific employees are moving through the step increases, and those step increases are due at different times of the year. That creates a mixture of percentages for the increases for individual line items, which at times can be difficult for councilors to have the ability to verify if those numbers are correct.
Meanwhile, Connell was focused more heavily on how department heads use funds freed up by job vacancies. Particularly, he took aim at the Berkshire Athenaeum where the department transferred some $14,000 out of the payroll budget lines and paid for other projects in the current fiscal year. Connell accused Library Director Alex Reczkowski of having a "slush fund."
Reczkowski said he had two people leave his department in the middle of the year and the positions weren't filled for a period of time. He worked the shifts when the positions weren't filled and he isn't eligible for overtime. That money wasn't being spent on the two employees. Toward the end of the year, Reczkowski transferred those unspent funds to the unclassified account to move along a backlog of projects, such as new branding, the development of a new website, and cataloging microfilm that hasn't been available to the public.
"I worked those hours. The reason I worked them is that I knew the board, the mayor, and everyone involved in the process wanted us to upgrade our website," Reczkowski said.
Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood said line transfers are common. It does require mayoral approval and a specific reason. But Connell feels the transfers make budgeting much more difficult for the council because it is more difficult to see the true expenses for each line.
Nonetheless, the City Council preliminarily approved the budgets for the Health Department, Building Inspector, Personnel, Library, Airport, and Community Development. The details for each budget is available below.


Health Department

The Health Department is seeing an $11,360 increase in its budget. driven entirely by salary increases. The $471,155 budget is seeing a total of 4.6 percent increase in salaries, accounting for 18,410 more than the current year.
To offset some of that, budget lines for phone, education and training, code enforcement, marketing, and property demolitions were reduced by 7,050.
Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo questioned a 10.7 percent increase for the salaries of nuisance control officers, feeling that was "a big jump."
Health Director Gina Armstrong said that is caused by a change in staffing. The job had opened and one of the department's existing staff members filled it. The existing staff member is able to start at a higher salary step than a new hire. Director of Personnel Michael Taylor added that the provision is part of the union contracts.
Councilor At Large Earl Persip asked for clarification on the telephone account. Armstrong said that is for cell phones for some staff members but, in an effort to reduced expenses, a couple of those phones are being reduced.
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Board of Health Director $55,945 $64,023 $64,023 $67,606
Senior Sanitarian $45,584 $45,880 $46,918 $48,822
Inspector of Weights and Measures $0 $0 $0 $0
Animal Inspector $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500
Sanitarians $75,967 $79,725 $83,565 $86,935
Senior Code Enforcement Inspector $43,190 $44,760 $46,918 $48,822
Nuisance Control Officer $29,379 $29,703 $33,279 $36,835
Officer Manager $31,626 $32,780 $34,956 $37,745
Public Health Nurse $41,001 $49,300 $48,920 $51,659
Administrative Assistant $25,578 $26,120 $29,266 $30,831
Board of Health Clerk $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Water Testing $1,200 $1,200 $1,200 $1,200
Uniforms $1,500 $900 $1,200 $1,200
Contractual Services $2,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,500
Telephone $3,450 $3,450 $3,450 $1,500
Equipment Maintenance $4,500 $4,500 $4,500 $4,500
Education and Training $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $2,000
Nuisance Abatement $6,000 $7,000 $10,000 $10,000
Code Enforcement $0 $6,000 $4,300 $2,000
Advertising $3,500 $300 $300 $0
Property Demolitions $25,000 $25,000 $25,000 $23,00
Medical Supplies $0 $8,750 $7,000 $7,000
Supplies $7,000


$2,000 $2,000
Total $431,674 $441,391



Building Inspectors

Gerald Gardner said inspection revenue is down this  year.
The Building Inspectors budget of $383,611 is $13,719 more than the current year. That is almost entirely driven by $12,219 in salary increases. 
The newest contract with the union, however, also requires the city to provide steel toe boots, which are required on job sites. Building Inspector Gerald Garner said the budget calls for $1,500 to be placed in the account for that purpose.
Council Vice President John Krol asked about revenues. Garner said the department is estimated to bring in about $172,000 less this year than last.
He said home renovations are being done less frequently partly because the price for softwoods from Canada had increased, raising the cost of renovation projects, and partly because home sales are lagging across the country. As fewer renovation projects are done, fewer inspections are needed.
This year was also the first year the department hadn't had a senior clerk - a position cut last year to the chagrin of Garner. But, Garner says he doesn't attribute the loss of revenues to that. Instead, he said the loss of that position had instead caused some delays in issuing permits.
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Senior Wire Inspector $49,075 $50,851 $52,835 $54,700
Building Commissioner $64,025 $64,022 $64,022 $67,606
Head Clerk $30,975 $32,103 $33,525 $34,900
Senior Clerk $25,935 $26,877 $0 $0
Building Inspectors $136,750 $143,888 $149,205 $152,600
Plumbing and Gas Inspector $45,555 $47,217 $49,305 $51,305
Temporary Labor $7,500 $7,500 $6,000 $6,000
Insurance Deductible $500 $0 $0 $0
Uniforms $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $3,000
Telephone $3,500 $3,500 $3,500 $3,500
Supplies $7,500 $11,300 $10,000 $10,000
Total $372,815 $388,758 $369,892 $383,611


The Personnel Department's budget is being reduced by $2,497. But, it also is one of the only departments to have a new initiative.
The budget calls for a new $5,000 allocation for a diversity and inclusion program. Director of Personnel Michael Taylor said that money will go for expanding the reach of job postings to reach a greater diversity of candidates, recruitment efforts, marketing city employment, creating internship programs, and bringing training and development to current employees.
"Recruitment alone can be very expensive," Taylor said.
Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell was outvoted in an effort to further reduce the medical expense line. Taylor said that line is used to provide pre-employment physicals, administer drug tests, and sometimes for independent medical exams if there is a worker's compensation or similar dispute. 
"This is the one line item in my budget that is really unpredictable from year to year," Taylor said, saying that the level of employee turnover in a given year ranges.
But, Connell said this year the department hasn't spent close to the $45,000 budgeted for it. The proposed budget is again at $45,000, after the council reduced it last year from $50,000 to $45,000. But Connell said even that seems to be overbudgeted given the trend. He motioned to reduce that by another $3,000 but was ultimately outvoted.
Councilor At Large Melissa Mazzeo asked why the line for assessment centers was reduced. Taylor said the company charges per position and with the recent hiring of a police chief, the city doesn't need to hold another assessment center for that job this year.
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Director of Personnel $64,025 $64,022 $65,623 $69,297
Personnel Technician $35,265 $35,675 $38,099 $40,428
Personnel Specialist $35,420 $0 $0 $0
Training $3,000 $4,500 $4,500 $3,500
Educational Opportunity $3,000 $4,500 $4,500 $3,500
City Physician/ Medical Services $40,500 $60,000 $45,000 $45,000
Online Application Program $4,800 $5,600 $5,600 $5,600
Advertising $2,500 $2,500 $2,000 $2,500
Diversity and Inclusion (new)       $5,000
Postage $85,850 $50,000 $0 $0
Supplies $3,000 $3,000 $3,000 $2,500
Assessment Centers $0 $0 $26,000 $19,500
Total $277,360 $229,797 $194,322 $196,825


The $277,150 budget for the airport is $6,209 more than the current year. Most of that is contractual salary increases but the City Council did question a $1,000 increase for snow removal. 
Airport Manager Gloria Bouillon said the line has been underfunded. She said the airport pays for two independent contractors to assist with city staff in clearing the airport after snowstorms. There is some 1.8 million square-feet of pavement on the property and snow removal is an extensive operation.
"It is primarily for those two positions who aid in the snow removal of the runways, taxiways, and tenant areas," Bouillon said.
Bouillon knows exactly how extensive that removal can be because she had lost two employees during the year and it was just her and the contractors plowing the property. She said most airports use chemicals but the city's budget doesn't allow for that.
The council also asked for maintenance, a line that is being reduced by $3,500. Bouillon had asked to level fund that line at $33,500 but it was reduced by the administration to $30,000. Bouillon said those funds are for lighting, fence repairs, pavement, tie-downs and hangar doors.
"We continually have deferred maintenance," she said.
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Airport Manager $58,204 $58,204 $59,659 $61,461
Assistant Airport Manager $0 $0 $47,755 $49,220
Airport Inspector $45,370 $45,370 $34,155 $39,598
Scheduled Overtime $0 $0 $15,000 $15,000
Commission Clerk $1,560 $1,872 $1,872 $1,872
Contractual Services $11,100 $12,000 $12,000 $12,000
Utilities $55,000 $56,800 $56,800 $56,800
Telephone $1,560 $1,500 $2,200 $2,200
Maintenance $14,500 $15,000 $33,500 $30,000
Snow Removal $8,000 $8,500 $4,000 $5,000
Membership and Dues $0 $0 $0 $1,500
Supplies $2,550 $2,550 $2,500 $2,500
Equipment $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $0
Total $199,344 $203,296 $270,941 $277,150

Berkshire Athenaeum

Library Director Alex Reczkowski said he did the job of two vacant positions until they were filled. 

The library's proposed $1,075,497 budget is an increase of $30,442. 

That budget had led to the testiest conversation of the evening Thursday when Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell took exception to the way Library Director Alex Reczkowski was transferring money from the personnel line to the unclassified part of his current budget - a move that can be done with mayoral approval.

Reczkowski said he had two people leave his department in the middle of the year and the positions weren't filled for a period of time. He filled in on the shifts and he isn't eligible for overtime. That money wasn't being spent on the two employees.
Toward the end of the year, Reczkowski transferred the approximately $14,000 of unspent funds to the unclassified account to move along a backlog of projects, such as new branding, the development of a new website, and cataloging microfilm that hasn't been available to the public.
"I worked those hours. The reason I worked them is that I knew the board, the mayor, and everyone involved in the process wanted us to upgrade our website," Reczkowski said.
Connell, however, raised concern that departments may be budgeting for too many people and then shifting the money to pay for something else. 
"It sounds like a slush fund," Connell said.
Director of Finance Matthew  Kerwood said the departments budget as if all positions are being filled. If there is a vacancy, then the department doesn't have to expend the funds and with approval, it can be used elsewhere in the budget. Kerwood rejects the idea that the city is funding two salaries when only one position is needed just to have flexibility in the accounting.
Council Vice President John Krol defended Reczkowski, saying that is exactly what he'd want the department head to do. He said he wants department heads who will do whatever is needed to accomplish more with the money they have allocated.
"I think this is what the taxpayers expect department heads to be able to do," Krol said.
The library is also looking to reduce its offerings of newspapers and periodicals. Reczkowski said that budget cut was the library "trying to be all in it together." He doesn't know which subscriptions he'll be dropping but the library is asking readers to let them know what is important to them.
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Senior Supervisors $193,165 $190,949 $195,763 $192,982
Supervisor Specialist $45,105 $47,323 $36,820 $38,605
Supervisor Specialist $116,590 $123,986 $121,997 $126,594
Library Assistant II $48,305 $51,324 $63,528 $65,149
Senior Technicians $97,344 $102,504 $106,373 $106,929
Senior Assistants $67,098 $76,210 $81,194 $91,302
Director of Athenaeum $78,337 $66,022 $67,673 $70,409
Library Custodians $61,573 $65,320 $64,276 $71,865
Library Assistant I $60,431 $67,950 $65,433 $66,563
Library Technicians $60,113 $63,642 $64,751 $66,565
Library Shelvers $58,733 $57,242 $54,664 $59,014
Equipment Maintenance $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $950
Library Staff Development $1,000 $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Supplies - General $12,000 $13,000 $13,000 $12,770
Supplies - Custodial $6,000 $6,500 $6,500 $6,450
Binding and Microfilm $2,200 $3,345 $3,648 $3,575
Newspapers and Periodicals $13,000 $13,000 $13,000 $10,000
Books and Audio Visual $75,000 $29,320 $29,365 $29,365
Travel $1,500 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Reimbursement ($45,453) $0 $0 $0
Unclassified - Library $2,000 $2,000 $2,000 $1,900
Library Networking Fees $43,125 $49,980 $49,980 $50,420
Theft Deterrent System $1,000 $1,500 $1,500 $1,500
Total $998,666 $1,044,617 $1,044,965 $1,075,407

Community Development

The Department of Community Development's $661,309 budgets $5,629 less than the current year. But the focus for Council At Large Melissa Mazzeo and Ward 4 Councilor Christopher Connell was on the salaries of two of the top leadership positions - Deanna Ruffer and Jim McGrath. The two are aligned to see and 8.2 and 6 percent salary increase respectively. 
Ruffer, Director of Personnel Michael Taylor, and Director of Finance Matthew Kerwood broke the salary increases down to a series of steps accounting for it. The positions are management and therefore are entitled to the City Council's recent approval of a total of 3 percent - over two years - in cost of living increases. Then the staff members are hitting the threshold for another step increase. 
For Ruffer, the raise seems at a higher percentage because she started the job making more than the previous director. Ruffer had run the department for a number of years and then returned to the city's employment this past year. When she returned, she started basically where she left off.
"If I hadn't left and still had been here, I would have been at the same [salary]," she said.
Mazzeo posed a number of questions about the city's pay scale and job classifications. She hoped to have a better understanding of the system so she could more closely follow the pay raises.
But ultimately, the budget was approved easily. 
Account Name 2016 Approval 2017 Approval 2018 Approval 2019 Approval
Director $40,852 $40,851 $41,712 $45,149
Parks Open Space Planner $64,250 $64,001 $64,000 $67,842
City Planner $61,150 $61,150 $60,916 $62,998
Conservation Agent $49,070 $50,851 $52,833 $54,028
Planning Administrator $4,000 $4,000 $0 $0
Administrative  Coordinator $40,456 $40,905 $41,671 $35,853
Business Development Manager $0 $0 $0 $29,071
Community Development Specialist $47,579 $47,579  $50,677 $63,460
Administrative Assistant $6,997 $7,192 $6,381 $6,639
Playground Leaders $18,879 $18,879 $18,356 $17,700
ZBA Clerk $801 $0 $0 $0
Seasonal Labor $17,195 $17,195 $15,000 $14,625
Recreation Coordinator $40,456 $40,905 $41,671 $42,613
Human Services $140,000 $138,000  $107,000 $84,000
Land Use and Zoning $0 $2,000 $2,000 $2,000
Lake Management $20,000 $35,000 $54,950 $51,950
Supplies $8,000 $8,000 $7,995 $9,000
Recreation Programs $7,000 $7,500 $7,500 $7,300
Downtown Inc. $43,000 $32,250 $24,185 $24,185
Tyler Street Business Group $1,000 $10,000 $2,500 $0
Planning Studies $15,000 $15,000 $5,000 $7,000
BRPC Assessment $0 $0 $33,928 $34,776
Total $625,665 $641,258 $666,938 $660,188


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