Grant to fund consultant's review of Pittsfield financial planning, budgeting practices

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PITTSFIELD >> Mayor Linda M. Tyer told city councilors this week that a state grant will help her administration refine long-range financial planning and create a five-year capital projects plan and a more transparent and resident-friendly city budget format.

The council also approved a joint meeting next month with the Board of Health to discuss the city's tobacco control regulations and learned that a special permit application for a Dunkin' Donuts drive thru on Tyler Street has been withdrawn by the developer.

The council voted unanimously Tuesday to accept the $25,000 Community Compact grant, which will fund a consultant's review of city budgeting and financial planning practices.

The Community Compact program, launched last year by the Baker administration, seeks to forge agreements with municipalities to adopt best government practices while setting local goals and providing modest grants from the state Executive Office for Administration and Finance.

The Edward J. Collins Jr. Center for Public Management will be hired by the city to target areas where Pittsfield faces financial challenges, Tyer said.

She said the grant will help fund development of a more transparent budget format, and better long-range capital needs planning and five-year budget forecasting. The five-year plans will be designed so they can be updated, she said.

Work by the consultant is expected to take place over the next three months.

The council also approved a petition from Councilors Christopher Connell and Melissa Mazzeo to ask the Board of Health to attend a meeting to discuss the board's tobacco sales control regulations.

Mazzeo said the goal is to begin a conversation on the regulations, which drew criticism after a cap on new tobacco sales licenses that recently resulted in a planned convenience store being denied a permit.

The board has tightened its tobacco regulations over the past three years, adding a license cap and banning tobacco use in parks, among other changes, designed to discourage youth smoking and try to reduce the city's comparatively high smoking rate among adults.

Connell, Mazzeo, Councilor Donna Todd Rivers, Council President Peter Marchetti and Tyer all raised questions about the regulations and the impact on businesses during a recent board meeting.

Mazzeo said a joint meeting has been arranged during a May 10 council meeting.

Connell said he is interested in beginning a dialog between councilors and board members on the issues.

"I want to emphasize that nobody is trying to beat up anybody else on this," he said.

And the council voted to allow Cafua Management to withdraw without prejudice its application for a special permit for a drive-thru operation at a proposed Dunkin' Donuts on Tyler Street.

The site is the campus of the former St. Mary the Morning Star Church. The company has indicated it will revise its proposal and resubmit.

In a related action, company has resubmitted its request to the Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance necessary for the Dunkin' Donuts project at the same site.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.


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