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Northampton Mayor David J. Narkewicz to ask for $2.5 million override

David Narkewicz

David Narkewicz Purchase photo reprints »

In an order he released to council members, Narkewicz revealed the dollar amount for the override that he first suggested April 4. At Thursday’s City Council meeting, Narkewicz said he will present the details of how the funds will be used and ask councilors to approve a special election for June 25, when voters would be asked to approve the override.

“This was a combination of looking at our revenue needs in fiscal year 2014 but also projecting out over the next four fiscal years,” Narkewicz said. “We’re trying to build a model for how we can meet the needs we have in the city and schools — how we can raise sufficient revenue to do it.”

Without an override, the city will likely reduce services and cut the equivalent of 22 full-time positions, according to Narkewicz. Of those, 15 would probably be in the schools and four would be from the dolice department’s roster of 51 officers, he said, although the city budget will not be final until May.

Narkewicz made the call to seek a $2.5 million override after receiving word about expected revenue from the state. He said the local aid amounts likely will be close to what he had anticipated, so they didn’t change the projected $1.4 million budget gap he forecast after Gov. Deval Patrick revealed his budget plan earlier this year.

Narkewicz said budget cuts, and the financial factors causing them, are nothing new for the city.

“In fiscal year 2013 we had to make cuts to balance the budget. The only difference this year is the size and scale, particularly on the school side, including cuts to classroom teachers,” he said. “That’s why I feel this should go forward to the community to decide. We tried to find savings and this is sort of the last option cities and towns have for raising additional revenue.”

The override would allow the city to raise property taxes above the 2½ percent annual increase allowed under the provisions of legislation known as Proposition 2½.

Residents overwhelmingly passed a $2 million override in 2009 to prevent cuts that year.

“Whether it’s health insurance or the cost of fuel and asphalt, it’s going up at a greater rate than local aid and our ability to raise revenue through taxes. That disparity puts us where we are today,” Narkewicz said. “And it’s still an issue we’ll continue to work on.”

He said the council is likely to take a first vote Thursday on the override request and the proposed June 25 special election. A second required vote would be taken May 2. The override would need support from a majority of voters to pass.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.

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