Look Ahead, Pittsfield: New council takes on waste management hike

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The city's newly elected leadership takes the wheel this week during the first full City Council meeting of the year.

The agenda includes review of a new 10-year contract with the Springfield Materials Recycling Center, which plans to impose new fees on communities in Western Massachusetts in light of recycling market shifts. Considering the 17,000-ton commitment included in the contract, those new fees shake out to at least $1.6 million in the first year to be shared by participating communities, including Pittsfield.  The city estimates its portion at $178,000.

The processing center does not currently charge fees per ton of recycling — for many years the money gained from resale of the recyclables floated the operation, as well as communities like Pittsfield that use it — but that will change come July. That move follows the dramatic drop-off in sale of the nation's recyclables to China.

Despite the new fees, the city's Resource Recovery Committee recommends that the council approve the contract.

Also on the docket for the meeting are new subcommittee appointments, put together by Council President Peter Marchetti.

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Perhaps most notable among the roster changes is the ousting of Ward 4 Chris Connell, an ally to former mayoral challenger Melissa Mazzeo, from his long-standing post as chairman of the Public Works Committee. Marchetti additionally took Connell's seat on the Finance Committee, which is one of the council's most powerful committees and one that Connell had served on for several years.

Ward 2 Councilor Kevin Morandi, also an ally of Mazzeo's, lost his role as chairman of the Public Health and Safety Committee.

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The appointments are already producing some grumblings from the city's dissenting voices, and Connell says his appointments amount to political payback. They hark back to a longstanding divide in Pittsfield politics.

Heads up

There will be a closed-door grievance hearing between the Pittsfield Federation of School Employees' paraprofessional unit and the School Committee's negotiations team at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Council Chambers.

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The Berkshire Athenaeum will host a job fair on Saturday for those curious about census jobs during the upcoming census season. The fair runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

And an ice fishing derby at Pontoosuc Lake will frost off the week. The Lanesborough Volunteer Fireman's Association sponsors the annual event, which features cash prizes and a live leaderboard with the day's catches.

The derby kicks off at 6 a.m., with day-of registration available for $10 behind Narragansett Park. Children under 12 can participate for free.

What's up in Pittsfield? Tell me via email at adrane@berkshireeagle.com, @amandadrane on Twitter, and 413-496-6296.


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