Jesse Adams, Maureen Carney, Owen Freeman-Daniels & Paul Spector: Override is fair, open process for Northampton
To the editor:
Another override. Another referendum on whether the city should be able to raise additional revenue through the last process available. The override is a fair process: the voters get to decide whether they will accept higher taxes in return for services. It is also an open process: when the city tightens its belt, the painful cuts are laid out for everyone to see. Now, there aren’t enough painless cuts available to balance the budget.
One of the first reactions is to point the accusatory finger at the city government and blame it for overspending and waste. We wish this were the case. If it were, we could fix it internally, without an override. However, this is not the case. As long as Proposition 2½ remains the law of the Commonwealth, Northampton, and all cities and towns, will be left with an unworkable financial situation.
Inflation outruns the 2½ percent the city is allowed to increase property taxes. Health care and salaries, a majority of our budget, grow at a pace considerably higher than 2½ percent. We are forced to live with continuing cuts in federal and state aid and yet we are required to fund more and more mandates both from Boston and Washington.
After we realize that finger-pointing won’t stave off coming cuts in service, we should ask whether there is a good plan to use the money. The answer is yes. The mayor has proposed a four-year plan to use some of this override to stabilize the budget in future years.
While we do understand the hardship this brings to some, without this override the city must continue to cut into the very core of city services. Though we wish there were a progressive state income tax with an increase in aid to towns and cities, we support this override because there really is no other choice. Please join us in voting yes on June 25.
The writers are members of the Northampton City Council.