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Bill to revise Pittsfield charter gets initial OK on Beacon Hill

Berkshire Eagle,
POSTED:   07/09/2013 06:30:02 PM EDT
Tuesday July 9, 2013BOSTON — State Sen. Benjamin B. Downing and state Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Paul W. Mark joined Pittsfield Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi on Beacon Hill on Tuesday in testifying in favor of S.1803 — an act revising the Pittsfield city charter.

Downing said the home rule petition, filed on behalf of the city by its legislative delegation, is being considered by the Joint Committee on Municipalities and Regional Government. The legislative committee held a public hearing on this and other local government matters Tuesday.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the committee convened in executive session and then released the bill with a favorable report. The petition now advances to a secondary committee for further review before it is placed on the calendar and brought before the full Senate for consideration, Downing said.

S.1803 is the revision of the city’s charter, drafted in consultation with the Edward J. Collins Center for Public Management at UMass Boston. It was produced by an 11-member Charter Review Study Committee, charged last fall with conducting a full evaluation of the charter for the first time in 80 years.

After a vetting process that included multiple public forums and committee meetings, the recommendations outlined in the revision were unanimously approved by the City Council on May 28.

If, as expected, the Legislature approves the new charter and it is signed by the governor, it will go before city voters in November. With approval, the provisions could go into effect in January 2016, following city elections the previous November.

Changes include a four-year term for mayor, language revisions to make its provisions easier to understand and a revised citizen petition and referendum section.