Friday June 15, 2012

PITTSFIELD -- After expressing gratitude to the School Committee and the mayor for hammering out a compromise school budget, the City Council on Thursday approved the $54.5 million budget for fiscal 2013, which begins July 1, without opposition.

The compromise plan, endorsed by the School Committee on Wednesday, restores five teaching positions, leaving only two positions left to be eliminated -- one of them from Crosby Elementary due to declining enrollment. In addition, 4 1/2 coaching slots and two specialists were restored.

The City Council also gave final approval to the city's overall $133.1 million budget for the coming fiscal year.

"We're very pleased the budget was approved," said Howard "Jake" Eberwein III following the Thursday night meeting in City Council chambers. "It is not an ideal budget, but it meets the needs of the students and shows how important it is for the city and the School Department to work together."

"I think a lot of hard work went into this process," said Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi after the vote. "We made some reasonable adjustments, we were mindful of the taxpayers in all this and we are still able to offer a top-notch educational experience for our children."

The compromise school budget includes $15.8 million in city tax revenue, $37.9 million in state Chapter 70 funding and $710,000 in district revolving funds. It taps $300,000 more in city funds than Bianchi had originally requested and $700,000 less in city funds than the school department requested.

The approved budget is represents an increase of only 0.32 percent over fiscal 2012.

The budget gap largely resulted from the loss of $1.3 million in federal stimulus funds for the coming fiscal year.

Other reductions are coming from the operations and expenses of the Pittsfield Public Schools, including to custodial staff.

City Council member John Krol echoed similar sentiments of other council members when he said, "Because of this compromise, we are in a much better place than we were a week ago."

To reach Scott Stafford:
sstafford@berkshireeagle.com,
or (413) 496-6241.
On Twitter: @BE_SStafford




By the numbers

A comparison of expenditures of fiscal 2012 and 2013:

City tax contribution to the school budget:

2012: $15,575,078

2013: $15,875,078

State Chapter 70 funding:

2012: $36,909,419

2013: $37,931,623

School Department revolving funds:

2012: $560,000

2013: $710,000