Northampton plans town hall meetings on override vote

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Staff Writer
Published: 1/13/2020 11:14:43 PM
Modified: 1/13/2020 11:13:56 PM

NORTHAMPTON — In March, voters will decide in a ballot question if the city will permanently raise property taxes. The $2.5 million override would be the third in just over a decade.

Under Proposition 2½, a state law adopted in 1980, municipalities cannot raise the amount of property taxes they collect by more than 2.5 percent unless residents vote to allow it.

Voters will have the opportunity to learn more about the override and why Mayor David Narkewicz proposed it in a series of town hall events beginning Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Northampton Senior Center. Throughout January and February, town halls will be held in every ward.

The town hall events will include a presentation by Narkewicz and time for participants to ask questions, said his chief of staff, Alan Wolf.

Narkewicz’s goal for the forums, he said, is “to put forward my proposal for renewing the fiscal stability plan and making the case for the Proposition 2 ½ override.”

“My hope is that people understand the mechanics of Proposition 2½,” said Wolf of the town halls, “and why this override is necessary for a sustainable future for the city to maintain the level of services that we are accustomed to.”

For years, Narkewicz has warned that an override vote would come. At the same time, the city has received nearly $1 million in excise tax revenue from marijuana sales at New England Treatment Access in the first and second quarters of fiscal year 2020.

If passed, roughly half of the $2.5 million would go toward a projected budget shortfall while the other half would replenish the “fiscal stability fund,” a pool of money that helps stabilize the city’s budget that was created by the successful $2.5 million override in 2013. Previously, city residents passed a $2 million override in 2009.

For the average single-family home in Northampton, which is valued at $335,946, the passage of the override would tack on an additional estimated $225 in property taxes annually.

The town hall events will be held:

■January 15 at 7 p.m. at Northampton Senior Center

■January 22 at 7 p.m. at Northampton High School

■January 29 at 7 p.m. at Jackson Street Elementary School

■February 4 at 7 p.m. at the Florence Civic Center

■February 5 at 7 p.m. at Forbes Library

■February 12 at 7 p.m. at Ryan Road Elementary School

■February 24 at 7 p.m. at Leeds Elementary School

Greta Jochem can be reached at gjochem@gazettenet.com.


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