On Nov. 5, Pittsfielders will be asked to vote for its city representatives. I am seeking reelection as your at large city councilor. I hope I will be your choice.
My first term has been productive. I created a program allowing low-income senior citizens to receive abatements on their property taxes in exchange for volunteer service in city government. The program launched in September and I know that city departments and seniors are benefiting from this intergenerational experience. I championed the preservation of firefighter positions and the addition of a police crime analyst. Let’s work together to keep our neighborhoods safe.
During this year’s budget review; I successfully removed $1.2 million in excess spending from the city’s capital budget. A proposal to renovate Hibbard School was submitted without a definitive plan for how the building would be used. Without a plan I could not support the expenditure.
Also during this year’s budget review, I discovered $200,000 in savings in the school department’s utility budget. Utilities in this context consist of fuel and electricity. Over the past four years there has been an annual average surplus of $422,000 in these line items. This historical data proves that the utility line items are consistently over budgeted. These savings are a significant victory in assuring accountability in budgeting keeping in mind, that expecting accountability is not opposition.
And there’s more work to do. During this next term, I am committed to demanding responsible budgeting. I will keep asking the hard questions. I will continue to press for the school department’s participation in the quarterly budget reviews. I will support public education funding that is an investment in student academics and extra-curricular activities.
I have asked for improved, standardized, procedures for obtaining quotes on capital expenditures. Too often the City Council is asked to approve expenditures for capital projects based on inadequate information. Once a capital project is underway the City Council has no choice but to approve additional funding so the project can be completed. If capital projects came forward with more accurate quotes there may be second thoughts given to a particular proposal. Accurate information leads to better decisions. Send me back to the City Council so I can finish this important work.
Taxpayers consistently demand growth in the tax base. Pittsfield does not have the luxury of rejecting opportunities for economic growth. I will encourage smart business development and job growth opportunities whenever and wherever they are proposed. Rather than saying "no" I will ask "how can we?" I believe that all economic development has value especially when vacant, blighted buildings can be restored or removed from our neighborhoods. I supported the redevelopment of the Plunkett School and the Crane warehouse.
More importantly though, much more importantly, I advanced an idea and then secured the funding for a comprehensive study conducted by the UMass Donahue Institute. On Friday, Oct. 25, the Berkshire Advanced Manufacturing study was released at a forum hosted by the Pittsfield Economic Revitalization Corporation. Many local employers and governments were invited to attend the forum. The knowledge gained from this academic analysis will guide Pittsfield in economic development decision-making. This is a significant step forward in understanding how to build upon our strengths and how to compensate for our weaknesses. Our future depends upon deploying these strategies for business and job growth. I want to be your ambassador in during this momentous undertaking.
I have been privileged to have your support in the past, and I need your help again. This is an important election. Pittsfield must work hard to be a progressive, bold, and dynamic city. The momentum gained during the past decade is threatened. Without your support, our city’s growth will be stalled. Please vote for me, Barry Clairmont, on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Barry Clairmont is an incumbent city councilor at large.