Michael T. Ryan: Abject neglect of city’s infrastructure

Sunday, April 13, 2014
To the editor:

I don’t know why anyone is surprised that Northampton is experiencing the worst pothole season in most of our lifetimes. It is because our whole infrastructure is crumbling.

Our roads aren’t replaced. Our water and sewer pipes are failing. Maintenance is not done. The reason is quite simple. Almost all of what the city takes from us in taxes and fees goes into pay and benefits for city employees. But alas we have more ball fields and city-owned non-tax generating land than most towns our size. Oh, and the bike trails are to die for. It was one year ago that our mayor told us we would need $2.5 million or the sky would fall. In less than one year all is right because the school department is so flush they want to add staff.

Apparently they want to grow even when the enrollment isn’t. That staff will be the ones needing to be saved when the FY 2016 budget is short and our mayor says we need an override for that. Then we will need another override for a new DPW garage. The taxpayers in our city had better have a reality check. We should start spending money on what we need and let the things we don’t need go for a time. If we don’t get back on a system of routine maintenance and replacement soon, there will come a time when the city will not have the ability to tax their way out of the abject neglect of the infrastructure and the crisis that is inevitable if we don’t get our act together.

Michael T. Ryan