Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz delays call for override to March 2020

  • Northampton Mayor David Narke-wicz wants more information. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/18/2019 12:16:39 PM

NORTHAMPTON — Needing more time for the city’s financial picture to come into focus, Mayor David Narkewicz will delay his call for a Proposition 2½ override vote by four months.

The mayor said Wednesday that he will ask the City Council to put an override request before voters on March 3, coinciding with the 2020 presidential primary, instead of the Nov. 5 municipal election.

Narkewicz informed the council of his intentions at a meeting this month, citing a delay in the state budget and because the city wants to see how the education reform legislation before the Legislature might affect the city’s budget.

“That’s a fairly significant piece of legislation that could have an impact on our calculations,” Narkewicz said.

He also said that delaying an override vote would give Northampton an additional one to two quarters of recreational marijuana revenue to examine.

Because of these factors, Narkewicz said it’s difficult to project how much of an override the city would need to ask voters to approve, though it would be “at least the $2.5 (million) that we had before.”

“You’re making projections based on prior-year revenues,” he said.

If passed, the money from the override would be used to replenish the city’s fiscal stability fund. The fund was established as a result of the successful 2013 override, which was supposed to help balance the city’s budget for four years, with fiscal 2018 being the year either another override or budget reductions would be required to balance the budget.

Instead, fiscal 2019 was the first year that the fund had to be used, and fiscal 2021 is the year where an override will be needed to replenish the fund if it is to continue to balance the city’s budgets.

On the education reform bills that will be debated this fall, Narkewicz said that while it would be great if sweeping reform occurred, “I’m not optimistic.”

Legislators are discussing changes to the state’s 25-year-old education funding formula — known as the “foundation budget.” The formula was meant to help determine how much schools should spend educating students, and how much the state should kick in. For years, critics have argued the formula has become increasingly outdated.

Narkewicz noted that one of the biggest constraints on the city’s budget is education funding. In this fiscal year, which began July 1, Narkewicz said, the city projected and then received net negative education aid from the state.

The City Council must approve the mayor’s request to put an override question on the election ballot. The mayor said he plans to make that request in either December or January.

Bera Dunau can be reached at


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