Tuesday's rejection of Pittsfield Mayor Daniel Bianchi's $9.5 million capital projects budget over a fire truck that didn't make the cut is more about the dicey relationship between the mayor and the City Council and perhaps the mayor and the Fire Department than it is fire safety.
The budget proposal attracted seven council votes out of 11, but borrowing authorizations require a two-thirds vote, leaving the proposal one vote short of passage. The mayor clearly felt blind-sided, as he had believed he had reached a compromise with the Council by adding funds for street improvements and other desired projects while leaving out the fire truck. Councilors Kathleen Amuso and Anthony Simonelli praised him for adding those funds, but it was also apparent that there was strong sentiment on the council for the fire truck. The mayor had originally proposed adding rapid response vehicles for the department, which would rather add a new truck to its fleet.
Mayor Bianchi listed a number of major, long-term projects that would be jeopardized if a capital budget was not approved by July 1, but no elected official interested in a political future would let that happen. Councilor Amuso suggested pushing the fire truck request to fiscal 2016, which the mayor had proposed. This would appear to be a good way to resolve the dispute and push the capital projects along, but it won't address the tension between the mayor and City Council.