PITTSFIELD — The Town Council has approved a sidebar agreement with the police union to allow for more incentives to attract officers to the Pittsfield Police Department.

Sidebar agreements are secondary or supplemental agreements to contracts already in place.

“I don’t know if it’s going to be 100 people (applying) or one or two, so I don’t want to hamstring us like this is all we can offer,” Councilor Michael Cianchette said.

Approved at a regular council meeting Tuesday, the agreement establishes an employee sick bank, increases the residency requirement so officers must live within 50 miles of the police station and offers a $15,000 signing bonus for the first year to new officers. The officers would receive half the signing bonus at the start of employment and the other half after completing their first year.

Cianchette said he thought it important to attract qualified and experienced officers who would be able to start at the department much sooner than a new officer, who would need to attend the police academy and complete other training.

“If it’s a matter of having a very well-qualified candidate … who doesn’t have to go to the academy for two weeks extra vacation, I’d hate to see that person walk away,” Cianchette said.


Councilors questioned the presence of a residency requirement at all, if the town is trying to attract the largest-possible pool of applicants.

Town Manager Kathryn Ruth said when the residency requirement had become an issue in the past, the town has approved a sidebar agreement with the union to allow the officer work in Pittsfield.

Attracting and retaining police officers is a growing issue in the area, with nearby Clinton looking to change the Police and Fire departments’ retirement plans to help attract applicants.

At the meeting, the council also passed an emergency ordinance to adopt a remote participation policy, allowing councilors to participate remotely through a video call under certain circumstances, and stipulating all meetings be broadcast online.

The council passed it as an emergency ordinance to ensure it would go into effect immediately and not have to go through he usual ordinance-approval process — beginning with the ordinance committee and including a public hearing.

“The emergency ordinance allows us to have everybody participate,” Ruth said. “And then the ordinance committee, at its next meeting, would start working on and making sure that this is the ordinance that they would like to put in place. Then, we will put this in place by regular procedures.”


The Town Council also agreed to accept the bid from CMD Power Systems Inc. of Hermon for a backup generator for the Pittsfield water pump station.

The town has had one generator for the station for many years, which has worked fine, but in recent years, there have been issues, according to Ruth.

“We never really needed one over the years. Power came right on,” Ruth said. “It was off two times during 20 years, and then all of a sudden it’s out quite a bit and for lengthy periods of time.”

The pump is expected to cost $72,785, with $10,000 coming from a Wellhead Protection Grant and the rest from funding provided the town through the American Rescue Plan Act.

Town officials said they do not yet know how much they should expect in federal funding, Ruth said, but it is expected to be about $400,000.

The vendor is expected to begin installing the generator in the next two weeks.

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