Bianchi finds funds to consolidate inspectors' offices despite Pittsfield City Council's rejection
PITTSFIELD -- Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi is moving ahead with plans to consolidate all city inspectors into a single office, despite rejection by the City Council of a $100,000 request for office renovation work.
The office space, he said, is located on the second floor at 100 North St., in the historic First Agricultural Bank building. The building, owned by Scarafoni Realty, has entrances on Fenn and North streets, and an elevator to the upper floors.
Bianchi said he is utilizing existing funds in the city budget and won't have to put in another request for renovation funding. He said the changes won't have to go before the council for further approvals.
The plan was spurred by requests from contractors and others who complained about having to visit several offices concerning various types of inspections and permits. Bianchi hopes to combine building, public utilities, fire and safety and other city inspectors in one office, he said.
"This will give us a coordinated, one-stop area for people to have inspectors sign off on permits," he said.
The city Purchasing Department put out advertisements with requests for proposals to provide the office space, he said, and only Scarafoni replied.
Because only one bid was entered, he said, state law allowed the city to negotiate the price, which was lowered from the original amount. He said the negotiations are not completed and declined to discuss the exact terms at this time.
However, Councilor at large Barry Clairmont said Friday he obtained copies of the Scarafoni proposal and a draft copy of the lease from the city Purchasing Department.
He said that shows the original bid was for $18 per square foot for 9,000 square feet of space, but the draft lease shows $14 per square foot in the first year, $13 per square foot in the second and $12 per square foot in the third year.
Those figures would mean an annual cost of $126,000 in the first year, he said.
The city would have an option to renew in the second and third years, Clairmont said.
Bianchi said three years should provide a good test of the efficiency of having centralized inspection offices at that location, which he said met an important qualification in being close to City Hall.
The space in the basement of City Hall where the scattered offices now are located could be used for storage, he said.
Another component of the mayor's long-range proposal will require approval from the council. He proposes $100,000 for software to allow online permitting from the city's website, but that is one of the line items currently stalled after the council voted down a $9.5 million capital budget for fiscal 2015.
The mayor has not yet resubmitted to the council any of the approximately 40 projects in that budget.
Clairmont said he has concerns about the office lease arrangement but said he wants to research the matter further before decided whether to raise them.
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