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News Briefs: Pignatelli bill passes House; CPA forum for Pittsfield voters

Bill H.4598 creates a limited exemption to a portion of the Massachusetts conflict of interest law in order to allow Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge to share a town administrator.

Bill to allow shared town administrators passes House

Boston — The Massachusetts House of Representatives yesterday passed H.4598, a bill put forward by Rep. William “Smitty” Pignatelli (D-Lenox) that would allow the towns of Lee, Lenox, and Stockbridge to share a town administrator on a regional or joint basis if they so choose.

The bill, developed in consultation with the State Ethics Commission, creates a limited exemption to a portion of the Massachusetts conflict of interest law in order to allow any of these three towns to share a town administrator. Municipalities may currently enter into inter-municipal agreements that allow for shared employees between towns. However, according to the Commission, a specific exemption is required to allow towns to share an administrator whose duties would potentially include discussing, recommending and implementing regional or joint solutions for delivery of municipal services.

Pignatelli has made enabling and promoting shared services among towns in southern Berkshire County one of his top priorities this session, and he sees a shared town administrator as a huge step for municipal collaboration.

“We can maintain the individual identity and character of towns while also saving money through common-sense collaboration,” said Pignatelli. “A full-time town administrator is a great expense for our small communities here in the Berkshires, and I believe that the State should not interfere if towns choose to work together to streamline services while reducing costs.”

If any of the three towns choose to make use of this legislation and share a town administrator, it would be one step in a series of increased municipal collaborations. Last December 17 towns in southern Berkshire County signed a community compact in which they committed to exploring future collaborations in education, public works, public safety, and human services. Since then, several towns have jointly purchased equipment, Lee and Lenox have hired a joint building inspector, and Berkshire Hills Regional School District and Shaker Mountain School Union No. 70 share a superintendent.

The bill will now move to the Senate.

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Question 5 informational forum to be offered to Pittsfield voters

Pittsfield — Preserve Pittsfield invites all Pittsfield residents to a public informational forum about the Community Preservation Act (CPA), the subject of Question 5 on the upcoming November election ballot, on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 6:30 p.m., at First Church of Christ, Congregational.

The forum will explain what adoption of the CPA means and how it will benefit Pittsfield. Keynote presenter Stuart Saginor, executive director of the statewide Community Preservation Coalition, will discuss how towns and cities can use the CPA to improve communities and neighborhoods with possibilities for parks, youth recreation, historic preservation, and community housing. Members of Preserve Pittsfield will further outline the relevance of CPA as it pertains to Pittsfield’s needs and goals as a community. Light refreshments will be offered along with an opportunity for interactive participation.

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