Pittsfield officials find themselves addressing all manner of arcane but nonetheless important issues in the first months of 2014. The process of reviewing city ordinances for potential conflicts with the new charter is one of those issues, along with the related question of whether or not to hire a consulting firm for the job.
The five-member committee charged with reviewing the charter for conflicts heard last week from General Code of Rochester, New York representative Patrick Smith, who explained how his firm would look for conflicts not only with city ordinances but with the laws of the commonwealth. City Solicitor Kathleen Degnan, who is an adviser to the committee, contends that the committee is limited by the charter to reviews of ordinances only. Committee Chairwoman and City Clerk Linda Tyer counters that a periodic complete review of the charter is called for in a section of the charter itself to address conflicts or make updates.
Such a review would be far from complete without looking for conflicts with state laws and ordinances and offering potential solutions. While it is within Ms. Degnan's purview to advise the committee on state ordinances, these reviews are a specialty of General Code.
Pittsfield should conduct a complete review of every possible conflict and it should hire General Code, which has performed this service for Gardner, Springfield and other state communities, to carry it out. The $13,900 pricetag for hiring this consultant will be money well-spent by heading off potential difficulties that could be far more costly to undo.