Pittsfield City Council calls on mayor to address office move queries
PITTSFIELD -- City councilors want Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi to appear before them Sept. 2 to answer questions on his plan to move city inspection services to rented office space at 100 North St.
Councilor at large Barry Clairmont filed a council petition with the request, listing a number of questions he has about the proposal. Clairmont also has requested a subsequent nonbinding vote of the council to support or oppose the plan, which Bianchi has said does not require council approval.
At the council meeting Tuesday, Clairmont asked that members vote on his request, which they approved.
Bianchi’s proposal calls for leasing 9,000 square feet of second floor space at the historic First Agricultural Bank building at First and Fenn streets, which is owned by Scarafoni Realty. The cost would be $126,000, or $14 per square foot, in the first year of a three-year agreement; $13 per square foot the second year, and $12 per square foot the third year.
Bianchi contends the move would consolidate scattered inspection services offices, now mostly in the basement level of City Hall, into modern office space at one location. He said that will encourage developers, contractors and others to "do business with the city of Pittsfield," which could produce more tax or other revenue to offset the rental costs.
He said developers have complained about the atmosphere of the current offices and that they are not all in one location. The basement area of City Hall often is damp in wet weather, he said, and moving employees out and using the basement for storage or other purposes would provide a healthier environment for the workers.
Clairmont said on Wednesday that Bianchi did a poor job of informing councilors of his intentions, which he said were in the planning stages by April. "It would have been nice to have some communication beforehand," he said. "It was poor communication at the least."
Bianchi could not be reached Wednesday for comment on the council’s request.
In his list of submitted questions for the mayor, Clairmont asked which city personnel would be moving into the new offices, what were the reasons for moving; what data was used in making the decision to move; how will the vacated basement space be used, when would the move take place, and how many permits were issued last year that involved more than one permitting office.
Clairmont also seeks information on a request for proposals for office space that the city posted and to which Scarafoni was the lone downtown property owner to respond. And Clairmont asked for specific information about the lease agreement.
Ward 5 Councilor Jonathan Lothrop added a question to the list, asking for an opinion from the city solicitor on whether the mayor would require council approval to sign a lease for the office space.
Clairmont said he was making the request under Section 2-7 of the new Pittsfield government charter, approved in November, which states in part: "The City Council may make investigations into the affairs of the city and into the conduct and performance of any city agency."
The section also states that the council may request specific information from the mayor on municipal matters and may request that the mayor "be present to answer written questions relating to that information at a meeting."
To reach Jim Therrien:
or (413) 496-6247
On Twitter: @BE_therrien
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.