Leonard Maggiolino: Override stabilization fund ‘smoke and mirrors’
To the editor:
The vote on the override is over. A well organized majority prevailed. However, as I noted at the Ward 3 forum, a glaring issue which concerned me about the override seemed overlooked or minimized by many. It was the inclusion of monies for an override stabilization account.
To me the basic funds needed to cover the stated shortfall in the fiscal 2014 budget were onerous enough. Adding another layer of funds to the override for a stabilization account seemed to add insult to injury and would be additionally harmful to many residents hard-pressed by the basic portion of the override.
The stabilization account may have sounded forward-looking. To me it represented smoke and mirrors.
By adding it to the override the mayor implies that we, in all likelihood, would face a budgetary shortfall again in Northampton’s fiscal 2015 budget or in succeeding years. In essence the stabilization account saves the city administration from again going to the public for another override in the next fiscal year or two. By that point it would probably be politically untenable since the rancor of the current override would have not been forgotten.
Northampton cannot continue to spend and/or budget more than it takes in.
If decreased funding from the state is a major issue, then officials should lobby our state representatives to change the local reimbursement formula from the state. Ask our mayor to use the bully pulpit of his office to engage the public and especially our representatives to Boston.
Again I ask, how about aggressively seeking out suitable businesses for relocation to Northampton?
Finally, I find it interesting that recent pronouncements from the state indicate that additional monies will be earmarked for the cities and towns. I hope we hear from the city administration on the effect of these monies, if and when received, versus the predicted fiscal 2014 budget shortfall.