Mayor’s Email Update

Mayor Clare Higgins has just released a new email update to the public, and we are reproducing it here for your general information. We call your special attention to the upcoming presentation from Phil Bess, Professor and Graduate Program Director of the Architecture Program, University of Notre Dame. It will take place on June 2 at 7:30pm in the City Council Chambers (212 Main Street). Professor Bess will discuss a studio workshop that could help visualize the concepts in the Sustainable Northampton Plan.

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Dear Neighbors,

I wanted to share some information with you about some
important upcoming events in Northampton. 
But first, let me acknowledge and congratulate all of the graduating
seniors at Northampton High School and Smith Vocational and Agricultural High
School in this commencement season. I know our young people will continue to
bring pride and honor to the City as they take up the next chapter of their


FY2009 Proposed Budget

My budget proposal for the next Fiscal Year is available
online for your convenience.  Simply
click on this link:
to go to the Mayor’s Office website, and use the navigation bar on the left to
view the budget.  The City Council is
currently meeting with a number of City departments to learn more about their
individual budgets and the impacts of this year’s stark fiscal realities.  The Council will vote on the budget in
June.  Under our city charter, the
Council has the authority to remove funding from the budget, but cannot add to
it.  As always, please feel free to
contact my office if you have any questions as you read through the budget


Additional School Funding & Strategic Planning

As you no doubt have heard by now, Smith College has made
a one-time gift to the Northampton Public Schools of $100,000 for Fiscal Year
2009.  This gift is gratefully received
and will allow us to bridge the very significant gap that our school department
faces this year.  In addition, a number
of our neighbors have been and continue to donate part of all of their tax
rebate checks to Northampton Public Schools. 
The Superintendent and I are extremely grateful for all the gifts, large
and small, that our neighbors are choosing to make at this time, a time that we
all acknowledge is a financially challenging one for all of us.

Part of what these gifts will allow us to do is to take
the time we need over the next year to convene a Blue Ribbon style panel to
participate in thoughtful strategic planning for our school district.  We will be asking this strategic planning
team to make recommendations about facilities, faculty, and how to continue to
provide the highest possible educational services in a sustainable way, a way
that is affordable to our community in the long term.

If you would like to join your neighbors in making
donations, please make your checks payable to the Northampton Public Schools,
212 Main Street, Northampton.  The School
Committee and Superindent will make decisions regarding the allocation of the


Important Ballot Initiative Organizational Work

Those of you who read or listened to my budget message
will already know that there is a Ballot Question looming in November that
could potentially have a devastating affect on communities across the

This worrisome ballot question would eliminate the state
income tax entirely. If that question passes, the state would have to cut $12.7
billion – three times the amount of state aid that cities and towns received
for education this year.  The Governor
has also proposed local option taxes on meals and telecommunication tax
reforms, which could bring Northampton up to $1.6 million dollars, but I do not
believe that these changes will pass the Legislature before the income tax
referendum is decided. The defeat of the income tax referendum is critical to
any discussion of local option taxes.


Locally, citizen activists are organizing to defeat this
ballot question.  The first organizing
meeting will be on Monday, June 9th at 7:00 at the Florence Community
Center–1st floor auditorium.  Please
make every effort to come, get informed, and then commit to sharing what you
learn with your neighbors. 


If this ballot measure passes it will cripple our ability
to provide essential services in the City. 
The question proposes to roll back the budget of the Commonwealth of
Massachusetts to its 1995 level according to the website of the question’s
proponents.  I don’t know anyone who is
able to purchase anything today at the same price they could thirteen years
ago.  I believe we would do well to
listen to former Northampton Mayor and Republican President Calvin Coolidge who
said, “Good government cannot be purchased on the bargain
counter.”   Please join me in
actively opposing this ballot question.



Neighborhood Assessment

Come hear Phil Bess, Professor and Graduate Program
Director of the Architecture Program, University of Notre Dame on June 2nd in
the City Council Chambers at 7:30.


Professor Bess will be talking about the kind of studio
workshop the University of Notre Dame could run for the city, if the city
decides to pursue this.


This approach has the potential to have an outsider with
no agenda help the community understand some of the most difficult design and
development questions and help the community build consensus. The workshop will
not proceed, however, unless there is a great deal of interest and support in
the community.


Ribbon Cutting

Earlier today, it was my honor to cut the ribbon at the
City’s new Water Treatment Facility in Williamsburg, symbolically opening the
new plant, although in practical terms, it has been up and running for a short
time already.  It is a very impressive
facility, which has improved our ability to provide clean, healthy and
good-tasting water to residents and visitors to Northampton.  The Department of Public Works has done an
outstanding job stepping up to operate this new plant.  It has been a long process, but it was
wonderful to celebrate its culmination today.



Restaurant Week

I hope you will be able to join our friends at the
Chamber of Commerce in celebrating Restaurant Week in Northampton, the week of
June 2nd.  Fourteen of our fine
restaurants have created 3-course menus for the fixed price of $20.08.  For more information, please visit



Storefront Art


On Friday June 13th, from 5-8pm, Commonwealth Center for
Change will launch its new ‘Storefront ART’ program at A.P.E.’s new Window
Gallery at 126 Main St. in Northampton.


Storefront ART is an exciting new program that supports
local artists by working with building owners to creatively use vacant downtown
storefronts as temporary artist studio, gallery and performance space.


A stellar line-up of young local artists will present
their work in an evening of dance, theater, folk music, video, photography,
painting, installation and drawings, not to mention hula hoping and a wandering
brass band!


In between the brief performance sections, artists will
be on hand to answer questions and engage with the audience in a social evening
designed to encourage interaction and conversation. Information will also be
available about C3 and Storefront ART.


The event is co-sponsored by the Northampton Center for
the Arts and is hosted by the A.P.E. Gallery. A.P.E.



Forbes Garden Tour

Please mark your calendars for June [14]th, the date of the
wildly popular Friends of Forbes Garden Tour. 
More information is available at



CET’s June 24 Small-Scale Wind Workshop for Residents and

The Center for Ecological Technology’s professional
engineer will present the “nuts and bolts” of small-scale wind,
including sizing and siting of systems for homes, farms and businesses, energy
efficiency measures and available financial incentives. On Tuesday, June 24, at
the Cummington Community House, 33 Main St. in Cummington, MA. Registration at
6:00 p.m. and workshop from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. $10 suggested donation.
Pre-registration recommended: (413) 586-7350 x 25 or Check  for more info. This workshop is co-sponsored
by the Hilltown Sustainability Group.



Stay Tuned……Cable Access Show is coming…


In mid-June, I will tape the first of an ongoing series
of shows at the Northampton Cable Access Television Station.  Other Mayors in the Commonwealth also host a
cable television show, and I am looking forward to picking up on that
tradition.  The format of the show is not
fully defined yet, but I look forward to using this medium as another way to
share information about this great city with its residents.  In addition to this, you can also listen
online to the regular Podcasts I have been doing with radio personality Kelsey
Flynn called Ask Mayor Higgins (  Kelsey is always looking for more questions,
so feel free to email yours to her. And, as always, please continue to bring
your ideas, thoughts, questions and concerns to my office.


Thank you for taking the time to read this email update
and for your continued engagement in the life of our great city.


Clare Higgins