Vote YES! Northampton Launches Website to Support $2 Million Proposition 2 1/2 Override

Vote YES! Northampton has launched a website at

Vote Yes! Northampton is a coalition of thousands of concerned citizens from all corners of Northampton, including seniors, parents, educators, elected leaders, public employees, and business owners who are dedicated to the idea that, to keep Northampton a strong and vibrant community now and into the future, we need to maintain quality public schools and public services and not allow our declining economy destroy our great city. Our mission is to build strong support to vote YES! for a Proposition 2 1/2 override that will prevent our city from having to make deep and damaging cuts to our schools and services…

“The official language of the override can be found here. It includes sections on the budget shortfall, on what an override is, on why no other solutions can alone solve the shortfall, on what we will lose, if we lose, and on why closing an elementary school is not an option. Finally, there is a section on myths and facts about the override, which we hope will address any concerns and arguments being made against it.”

Assuming City Council gives its final approval on May 7, voting on the $2 million override proposal will take place on June 16.

See also:

Gazette: “Override vote gets Northampton council’s 1st OK” (4/16/09)
While acknowledging the tough economic times many families are facing, councilors in the end decided to follow the recommendation of Mayor Clare Higgins and the advice of many residents who want to have a say on whether to pay higher property taxes to save city services and jobs. Only Councilor Raymond W. LaBarge of Ward 7 voted no…

Higgins has been reluctant to request an override without first getting concessions from union members regarding a wage freeze next year. She said Thursday that one of the 14 unions has agreed to freeze its wages and talks continue with the other unions. If deals aren’t reached by the second vote, she said she would recommend that the council take the override question off the table.

Northampton Redoubt: “Higgins gambling on a municipal budget” (4/18/09)
Northampton is caught in a downward fiscal spiral and some are content to frame its context as one of outside forces imposing their will on the city. Blame is cast on the national economy, cuts in state funding and rising health insurance costs…

What it really boils down to in my view is trust and frankly, I am hard pressed to support increasing local property taxes in Northampton for an administration whose policies I frequently disagree with. As I see it most of the people responsible for the local, state and federal funding dilemma are still in power…

With the exception of Redoubt, absent from the mainstream conversation on the local front is any mention of spending decisions made by mayor Higgins and her city council that might have contributed to the city’s dilemma. But should we be looking in our metaphorical rear view mirrors? I think so. A few days ago I highlighted a handful of the city’s more recent spending decisions on my blog in a letter to Andrew.

If all goes well for the mayor’s three point plan a budget gap projected at $6.1 million will be reduced to $1.6 million in a short time, pending the approval of the override by voters and the agreement of city unions to freeze the wage increases Higgins’ negotiated with them not long ago and of course some layoffs. To me it’s all just political theater as state and federal spending has been declining for years yet the mayor saw fit to negotiate said pay increases and to float bonds for a new police station with money she did not have in hand to spend. This why I believe the mayor is a gambler and she’s trying to hustle the taxpayer to some extent…

I’ve been of the opinion all along that the override hype has been orchestrated by the mayor through an accomodating local media corps in order to scare the public into voting in favor, and it just might work. Even if it does pass though, the city faces structural problems with its finances that will not go away and override proposals and the accompanying hysteria will probably become a more frequent occurence. The problem is, what do most people actually know about the spending decisions made by city leaders, in detail? I think the answer is, not much.

Video: Mayor Gives FY2010 Budget Briefing to Ward 3 on 3/16/09
Supporting documentation for the FY2010 city budget outlook is available at

Video: Finance Committee Meeting of 2/25/09 with FY2010 Budget Presentation; Schedule of Budget Briefings by Ward

Michael Bardsley Declares Candidacy for Mayor: Opposes School Closings

Springfield Republican: “Superintendent Isabelina Rodriguez temporarily drops proposal to close elementary school in Northampton” (4/3/09)
Rodriguez has estimated that closing an elementary school would save $320,000…

The prospect of a school closing has galvanized some school communities. Parents and administrators at the Robert K. Finn Ryan Road School have already met to discuss the possibility, and people have spoken out against school closings before the City Council…

…Rodriguez said Friday that revised enrollment projections show that four elementary schools might be needed after all.

“There’s a potential for growth,” she said, adding that some parents who send their children to private schools might be looking to save tuition expenses in the worsening economy. Private school enrollment in Northampton was down 20 students this year, she said.