By: Tammy Daniels On: 10:30PM / Tuesday June 21, 2011
Supporters and opponents of the override were in a good mood on Tuesday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Voters rejected a $1.2 million Proposition 2 1/2 override by 577 votes on Tuesday, sending city officials back to the drawing board to plug a $957,000 hole in the 2012 budget.
"This is a democracy, this is why people are able to make these choices, and we'll respect the choice," said a disappointed Mayor Richard Alcombright, who vowed to "look under every rock" for savings and revenue (yes, taxes will still go up). "I was hoping, hoping beyond hope I guess, for a different outcome."
His concern was that the city was continuing to "kick the can down the road" by not dealing with the loss of revenues. The same hurdles will be there next year, he said.
"We're not going to be able to fund things that we want to fund, we're not going to be able to continue things that we want to continue, and we know darn well the revenues aren't going to come back," the mayor said. "At best, next year we're level funded [by the state] which is still a 3 percent step back."
The mayor was busy answering two phones after the election results came in.
Outspoken opponent Robert Cardimino, on the other hand, was jubilant. "It sent a message to City Hall," he said.
The city has seen its state aid drop by more than $3 million and revenues decline even as costs have continued to rise. With no significant reserves left, the mayor proposed a Proposition 2 1/2 override that would have increased the city's levy limit to raise more taxes to match revenues to spending.
The override, on top of last year's 10 percent property tax increase, water rate increase and implementation of a sewer fee, had a segment of the population howling.
"I can't afford to lose my house," said Robert Martel, who was standing outside St. Elizabeth's Parish Center with a large "NO" sign. "My taxes have gone up $667."
The question has divided the city, with harsh words at public meetings and allegations of scare tactics. At least one landlord reportedly handed out fliers warning tenants their rent would be hiked if the override passed.
The results came quickly as the override was defeated by at least 70 votes in each of the four wards stationed at the parish center. Ward 4, at Greylock Elementary School, rejected it even more decisively by 200 votes.
The final tally was 1,812 against and 1,235 for, with 36 percent of registered voters casting ballots. The vote wasn't quite as harsh as in Cheshire, which defeated a $200,000 override 2 to 1 on Monday night, but it wasn't far off.
Election wardens were mixed on how the vote might be going; the diversity of the voting population made it difficult to get a forecast on the outcome.
Ken O'Brien, head warden at St. Elizabeth's, said the turnout had been steady throughout the day with voters ranging from the very young to the very old; a large number voters brought their children.
Over in Greylock, Warden Christine Petrie said the bulk of the votes — some 500 — had been cast by around noon, with a couple eager voters ready an hour before the polls opened at 9. "There was a woman here with a baby 4 days old and another woman who said she was 95."
By all accounts, there was little hesitation in checking off yes or no for the one question on the ballot. Some didn't even bother using the voting booths; "One man marked the ballot in his hand and walked right to the box," said Assistant Clerk Jane Wise.
"As a parent, I'm really concerned," said Drury High School Principal Amy Meehan, who has spoken in support of the override at some of the six information sessions held over the last few weeks. "I think that North Adams is a good place to raise children but I don't know what the city is going to do to close the shortfall.
Alcombright congratulated Robert Cardimino on the outcome, but Cardimino couldn't resist jabbing the mayor again with his claims of 'scare tactics.' We call unsportsmanlike conduct.
"Voter turnout was so low, I'm very disappointed ... this is going to be a longtime loss for all."
Alcombright said he was going to "take some very, very deep breaths and try to absorb where we are" and then meet with school administrators and department heads to craft another spending plan to present to the City Council by the second meeting in July. A list of cuts already presented to the public will be on the table.
"The biggest challenge now is the school getting down to minimize spending; that means we have to find a half-million or so in the city budget and that is near and next to impossible," he said. "... but we will and we'll make it work."
He was unshaken by a major setback in only his second year in office; he'd spent weeks trying to persuade voters to make a difficult choice that would directly affect their wallets.
"It's probably just more than people were willing to absorb," he said. "You try to minimize by saying the average would be $195 a year, but it's still 195 bucks out of somebody's wallet. ... Even a win would have been bittersweet: you passed your budget, you move forward, however, you're throwing this liability on thousands of people."
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Good job North Adams. You didn't fall for the union scare tactics.
Well if the spending is the issue then cut back on the spending! This administration has asked enough from residents. Do they think we don't have families to support or bills ho pay we can't our whole pay check's over to city hall! It's time to think of solutions that are out side of the box! The way things are being done now nolonger works people want a change for the better not the poor house we have suffered long enough with this resession. Time to look into departments that can have a little fat trimmed! Maybe even a cross the board pay cut to preserve jobs! Something needs to be done if money needs to be freed up to balance the budget! But spending on what we can't afford needs to stop we have topics within our means now more than every!
I'm sorry, but you're incredibly ignorant. First of all, Barrett raised taxes significantly during his last few years...he didn't do it with a 2 1/2 override, but he did it by having all of the homes in N. Adams re-assessed. My home value increased over $40,000...hmmm...how much more do you think I'm paying in taxes because of that???
There is no fat left. I don't know where your head has been, but the "fat" has been cut out several times in the last 2 years. We're cutting at the bone now.
This is great! We need to remember that we are not the only city to be impacted by a struggling economy. It's great because it's now time to develop and execute some leadership abilities and set serious "Standards and Expectations" in this city!
Sure raising taxes is an easy and immediate way of generating money to balance a budget, cutting programs and eliminating jobs is an equally simple way to reduce spending, but these are things that should be looked at as a last resort. When it comes to that, it should be accompanied by a plan of action to recover the jobs or programs.
Our educational programs and programs for the elderly should be that last thing we look at to cut spending. Education is the key to our recovery! We also should not eliminate jobs that are designed to generate revenue, either directly to the city budget or its local economy!
Our process owners need to get involved with process improvement and create lean processes and eliminate cumbersome and expensive ones! We need to ensure they know the difference between cost savings for the city and cost avoidance! We all should know clearly where our revenue generators are and work to create more!
An executeable budget needs to be developed and periodic reviews held to monitor spending and execution. It's time for this city to be held accountable!
the mayor and it's staff and selectmen after cut the extra spenting on programs that don't work at all and clean up the BS and maybe you mr mayor you'll find the money you need to fund the programs that do need attention good job North Adams residents.
Your another ignorant Alcombright fool! Yes Barrett increased taxes but he did in much smaller amounts AND he did not give us a sewer fee. The former mayor had to make much larger cuts then this guy ever did. Alcombright started from day one when he jumped his SECRETARY up $8000 dollars and gave her a new title of ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT. Ask around City Hall how many things she has messed up. What do you call Bunt's old position if it is not fat? The biggest losers are the City Council who sat there like dummies while they drank the Alcombright kool aid. The operation of North Adams has become a joke. How smart is your leader when he closes down just about every road around the largest voting place? Yup he is a real wizard all right but as long as he has people like you around he thinks he is the greatest.
I would really appreciate it if the local media would devote a little less coverage to Robert Cardomino. Just because he is outspoken does not make him newsworthy. I thought he was disrespectful to his opponents in the community forums, disrespectful to his fellow citizens by monopolizing the microphone and walking out once he had his say, and also seems not to be entirely in command of the facts. Surely the Transcript and iBerkshires can find others to represent his viewpoints? Using him as the sole representative of the positions he represents does not help to encourage constructive debate.
That aside, I think that the Yes side made a tactical error by bringing up the override at this point in time. I know they felt it was necessary, but it was an error. Nationwide, it is generally true that the elderly do not vote in favor of tax increases. However, voting rates among the elderly are high, as is homeownership. In addition, there are so many people now who are not working or who are underemployed, that it was probably really difficult for those people to sympathize with a lot of the arguments put forth by the "Vote Yes" side.
For instance, one of the Vote Yes arguments was that high school activities will be cut, and parents would have to pay a fee. The Yes side meant that to sound really dire, but I think that many no voters heard that and though "Well, better them than me. Why should I have to pay for that?" People probably had similar reactions to the warnings about job cuts, furloughs, and deferred raises in City Hall--if you're not making ends meet, you're not likely to volunteer to sacrifice further to save someone else's salary.
Tactically, it would have been a lot more astute for a bunch of cuts to have been made, including the furloughs, *before* the vote. And rather than focusing on the schools, it would have been better to focus on necessary cuts in areas that affect everyone, like snow plowing.
Congratulations to the Mayor for being so gracious in defeat, though. A class act, and good example for us all.
The Mayor said it himself, this time around the homeowners of the city felt they have paid enough in increased taxation and fees for the timebeing. The money just isn't there for many homeowners who have already had to pay a lot more in the past year and a half. This is the economic reality for North Adams and a lot of other towns. Cuts are not pleasant, but we're seeing a decrease in population that is not going to reverse itself, our housing stock is in rough shape by and large, and income for North Adams residents is one of the lowest in the state. The Mayor did what he thought was best, and when he lost, he knew it was time to move on. So should the rest of us. The city won't die, the streets will be plowed, kids will still go to school. Now, let's get that Super Walmart built so we can add to the tax rolls.
Mr Mayor, you will get nothing and like it! The people of north adams have spoken and taken our city back. Dick, your're done, go climb a rope. Next time you want to see a Steeplecats game, let me know, I will buy you a ticket.
If you a prime minister, you would be facing a vote of no confidence.
I think this was a very tough day for North Adams and I'm concerned about the impact that the defeat of the override will have on our citizens and most specifically our school-age children. The increased tax burden would have been difficult, I'm sure, for many families. The bottom line for me is that we need a community that is an "attractive" place for people to live -- both for potential newcomers to the area and for the young people who currently live here and need to consider where to work and live with the families they will have in the future. This means a "tax" system that isn't over the top, good services for fire safety, policing, and city maintenance, and a strong school system. I wish the mayor and his administration the best of luck as they work through the difficult decisions that will have to be made. I also hope those who voted to defeat the override remember that the reduction in services and opportunities that will likely come is a result of this decision.
Imagine.....Ward 4 (very accessible) gave him the loudest NO response!
I suggest we dig up the new paving done on Monday. Afterall, it was done for WILCO........ Mr. Alcombright, I suggest you get out and meet and know your constituents! It was funny watching the rerun propotape from your first dog and pony flop as you fumbled with names! You all wanna keep bashing JB - well, he knew who he represented!
I love the smell of fresh TEA in the morning!!!! Just sent an e-mail to Sarra , she will be so proud of the voters of N.A. !!!!!
The mayor shook Bob's hand for a photo opportunity ,lets not forget he lost 1900 voters. Sorry mayor your motive is to transparrent.
Editor: Mr. Cardimino showed up in the mayor's office and the mayor was very gracious. I have never seen the mayor be anything but. Mr. Cardimino couldn't resist a cheap shot. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Prediction, some left wing nut will now try to file a lawsuit to make us taxpayers approve the over ride.
People in this "city" just can't get over the fact that the free ride is over. Can't let go of the past. They want all services; police, dpw, fire. Agreed, the school issue was overblown. But wait a year from now when our infrascruture is falling apart, crime takes off, and property values plummet (but plummeting prop values will mean lower taxes! hooray!). I think in the mind of a lot of those who voted against there is this idea things are going to return to the "good ole days." Well to paraphrase Rick Pittino, another well known blow hard, "Sprague Electric isn't walking through that door. The Boston Store and Roberts Co. aren't walking through that door."
Wayne, great post. Had a cup of earl grey myself!
I think the big government tax hike nuts are pulling their hair out. Maybe they can volunteer if mayor dick cuts any school programs, because, sniff, it's all about, sniff, the children, sniff
I agree Mr Editor. Why must we bash other people because of a difference of opinion? I cannot even believe the disrespect that I am reading on all these posts. You all should be ashamed of yourselves. The Mayor was doing what he felt best for our city by propsing this solution. He isn't a dictator, we ALL had the chance to go out and vote. The vote was taken and now we all need to move on and figure out what to do next. Name calling is not going to solve anything. And I think it's just a ridiculous statement regarding the paving of the streets, what is that suppose to even mean? "He did it for Wilco so let's dig it up" Don't you want Main St to have the spruce up it so deserves????
Okay. Now that the voting is over, and the override was not passed, how many of you (from both sides) are willing to volunteer time to do some work for the city? Will you help mow lawns? Will you help to paint? Will you help to clean the streets?
Please reply by commenting "Yes" or "No", then add if you were a supporter or non-supporter of the override.
How about cutting all the city cars being used at all hours of the day and night, they are not just being used for "business". I don't know why people in the school department need 24 hour use of vehicals. I have to drive my own car to work so they should be too.
Just plain sad..
64% of those eligible didn't care enough about our city to vote.
We have two choices for our city: improvement or decline. The majority chose the latter.
The majority voted with their hearts, not their heads.
It's unfortunate that the majority can't manage their money well enough to afford 54 cents a day for our city.
Perhaps after the effects of the new cuts are felt, minds will change for next year's vote.
"Hope springs eternal"
I know it sounds cliche and small town but when I was a kid I remember the PTG would always be holding huge bake sales on election day and there'd be tons of other fund raisers like that. If we need to "save our schools" now that the override is defeated let's put our heads together and come up with some ideas for raising money that isn't just a simple "raise taxes" ideas.
Here's a couple that I've thought up:
* NA Schools could sell ad-space to local businesses on their baseball / football fields.
* Have regular fund raisers for
* Continuously negotiate contracts on things like office and school supplies.
Perhaps it's time we look at sharing services between neighboring towns. North Adams and Adams both have smaller populations so maybe combined schools are the way things are going.
Otherwise, I'm with the guy above. If you voted yes, write a check to the City. I'm all for voluntary taxes by those who wish others pay them.
Editor: I don't think these contracts are as strict as the old GE and Sprague ones. People have the right to help spruce up their city and volunteer in schools and other areas. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
OK Bob I will paint the mayors office when someone else is ready to move in. I will even buy the paint.
I am now convinced that moving here was a huge mistake. I'd sell the house I bought and move to a place with a decent school district, but especially after last night, nobody new is going to buy my fixer-upper in an "improving" neighborhood. Instead, I will rent it out. Section 8 tenants will make sure I can cover my mortgage until I am no longer underwater. Then I will sell it for $100,000 to the first idiot who wants it.
I, along my wife and kids, are all out of this bitter crap hole that will always be a crap hole. We'll rent someplace a town or a few away, and my commute will be shorter too.
We moved here because of the promise this town held. Boy, were we mistaken. Most of you are closed-minded [edited] and that malady cannot be fixed with a coat of paint and some elbow grease.
they are revenue builders for local shops. Kids/parents buy equipment from local stores. Many people from town and out of town visit NA to go to games and it brings in lots of revenue. Plus sports keeps kids healthy and out of trouble. They'll be barking up a wrong tree if you decide to cut them. There is much more, and i mean much more fat that could be cut. How about everyone in the city taking a 1% pay cut to save everything like someone suggested.
Editor: Prove your statement, please. Second, Section 8 is a state program. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Things have gotten pretty ugly, when the likes of Cardimino are able to persuade voters to shoot themselves in the foot in this way. Self-proclaimed crowing "Hero of the people" - good lord. And 64 percent of registered voters stayed home.
Imagine what kind of awful message this sends to anyone looking to invest in ANYTHING in North Adams. It's the kiss of death.
Alcombright has done his best, and I applaud him for the grace and courage he's shown during the past two years. My advice to the Mayor would be - don't run again. It's a losing battle.
You can't help some people -- they don't want no stinkin' help. Mayor Alcombright, take my advice - leave the Barrett suttees to their own devices, and go enjoy the rest of your life.
The sooner the city falls under receivership, the better. This debate about a tax increase has exposed the dark underbelly of ignorance lying at the center of everything that is WRONG with North Adams.
I don't understand how 15-25 bucks a month have property owners so upset so that their community can stay healthy. FYI - our State has significantly stopped holding North Adams hand financially! Owning anything in America isn't cheap...it is a privilege. Add in ownership in Massachusetts on top of that and it's practically a miracle. We are fortunate to live in an area where our property tax is do-able. Just Saying...
"Wayne". Your comments always seem to drip venom. Rancor only shows arrogance.
We have a very hard-working and dedicated mayor, who is also a decent human being. He is not arrogant. Nor is if selfish. He may have made an unpopular move, by suggesting a proposition 2 1/2 override, but he did it in what he thought was the best interest of the city. The voters disagreed, and we must move on.
How about dropping the sarcasm and really pitch in to help the city. Your comment ("OK Bob I will paint the mayors office when someone else is ready to move in. I will even buy the paint.") was very sarcastic, and didn't show one bit of just how much you might be willing to do to help the City of North Adams.
How about it, "Wayne". Will you really help? Or will you just take jabs at the people who are willing to help?
Now that the override issue has been resolved, a little humility and a lot elbow grease will help this city to heal and move forward.
I agree with the editor. The vote is done, the decision is made, and those who lost, and even those who won, have way too much hatred going one way or the other. I voted no, but I know friends who voted yes, and they were sincere in their opinions, just as those I know who voted no were sincere. The voters ARE the city, and when they make a decision, it stands, just like when John Barrett was defeated by about the same percentage of the electorate. I don't get why people have to be so bitter. This vote will not result in the city collapsing around us, and it will also result in some noticeable cuts in services. I thought the Mayor, who I did not support in his election bid, was very gracious and fully "got" why the vote went the way it did. He's accepted it and knows what he has to do, and he's acknowledged it was the will of the voters. Heck, I may vote for him this time around, I respect the way he handled this - he fought like hell for the override, and when it failed, he took the high road. That's what all of us should do.
Editor: I don't believe anyone is a peasant and I strongly believe voters have the right to set their community's agenda. I can, however, be disappointed by their choices. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
I keep seeing the pro-side people claim North Adams is headed for a state takeover. Let's review some of the facts that relate to the state takeover of Chelsea, and compare. Chelsea had a significantly larger structural deficit than North Adams does or will ever have. It was $9.1 million out of a $41 million budget. When the receivers came in and took over, what did they do to right the ship? Did they raise taxes on homeowners? Nope. They cut the fire department, cut overtime in all city departments, restructured all union contracts, and aggressively went after those who were not paying their taxes. In fact, they foreclosed on numerous homes and businesses behind on taxes, and gee, what happened... suddenly the majority of people who owed back taxes paid up, closing the budget gap and in fact creating surpluses. I'm sick of people claiming North Adams is the next Chelsea. We're not even close. Chelsea was filled with corruption from top to bottom, and the state took years before it stepped in, and then quickly settled its finances... without large tax increases. North Adams has a pretty good number of people and businesses behind on taxes - all they've done is impose liens on the properties. Time for them to take some. As with Chelsea, once that happens, people will start paying, guaranteed. For those of you who think we're headed for a financial meltdown, check out the facts yourself.
Editor: The city has been taking properties; Land Court takes forever. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Duh, having proved you can count to three, why don't you come up with something constructive that might help this "city" out of it's financial straights? Name calling, intimidation, and insults so far haven't worked. Ask the previous administration. Have you any answers besides cut services, move out if you don't like it? Or is the apparent glee you seem to be getting out of this all your're after.
Yail.....I say use some from reserves, cut some from public services, cut all city salaries 10%...thats a start.....cut the fat from school and trust me its there......head teachers, school adjustment councilor....plenty to cut!
There is absolutely no need to reduce core services which includes education. It means the Mayor can't pass out pay raises like candy. For the first time in two years I would expect the City Councilor to push back and make sure Alcombright uses the resources he has to keep programs intact. That is the message from 60% of the voters. I'm very disappointed in the Council as they never questioned what this guy was doing. Bloom should resign now as the Chairman of Finance as he has no idea what he is doing and is way out of touch with the real world.
While it's true that some properties were taken, it isn't many, and yes, land court is long and drawn out. But in my own discussion with the Mayor about this issue, he pointedly told me that "the city doesn't want these properties, anyway." In other words, they place the lien and walk away in most instances. I understand the reasoning behind not wanting dilapidated properties that are worth little. But I also know someone quite well who owns five properties, three of them with houses on them, and he hasn't paid taxes in three years, and literally laughs when the city puts an instrument of taking on his land. He's just the kind of person that if the city really did move on a taking, he would suddenly find the money.
Editor: The sad part is these properties are left deteriorating. Too often, such as in Ransford's case with the two apartment buildings on East Main, the lien is placed and they walk away. That means the city is left to tear down, clean up and maintain. This would be a good time to look into the number of properties with outstanding taxes - and what they look like. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
I agree, everyone on the city's payroll should take a 1-2% pay cut to save jobs this includes the police and fire department.They have not given up their pay raises like the teachers have its only fair! This should help fill the budget gap! You can't expect the same group of people to shoulder all the burden so they can be financially comfortable and the tax payers are not even getting by. We have suffered enough with this economy.
Tammy would you please stop your defense of this Mayor as it is really getting sickening. Most know of your dislike of the former mayor but this is too much. Alcombright hasn't been gracious to the former mayor and at every opportunity has attempted to disparage him which probably contributed to the overwhelming no vote. Do your job of reporting and let us form our own opinion.
Editor: I like Mayor Barrett. He's always been very nice to me. But both he and Mayor Alcombright have certainly taken potshots at each other.
Looking back at my comments on this thread, I have told people not to call names or be mean, that they have the right to vote and volunteer, asked someone to prove a statement, said that Land Court takes a long time, and differed with Wayne on the interaction between Mayor Alcombright and Mr. Cardimino. Oh, was it that last bit you found sickening? I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
I wholeheartedly agree, Editor. A very good time to review the back tax issue. I think those of us who do pay our taxes, on time, every time, deserve it. And don't let the comments of people like "please" get you down - you've been very objective at all times.
Editor: Not so much for the override, which I thought was too high, but for the attitude or the long-term vision or the willingness to sacrifice. I know that doesn't make much sense but I find the "no to everything," make cuts everywhere position self-defeating.
Since it's all over, I might as well say that I agreed with the opponents over the raises and with the mayor that you shouldn't spend every dime in the reserves before raising taxes. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Duh, What reserves? What services are you willing to live without? Lower saleries are sure to attract the best talent we need to revive this "city." What in the schools do you consider fat?
Yail..I just told you about the schools...its city government..who do you think you are going to get bill gates? Most people work for the city cause they cant get a higher paying job...god you are ignorant.
Editor: Ha ha, my favorite professor told me that a long time ago. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Duh, was that you? Calling me ignorant? You signed your name "Yail." I'm ignorant... Oh well, as to my question, do you have an answer? Or do you, "Yail"? Who ever you are? Here's my solution to the "city's" fiscal woes, after listening to all you rabid, narrow minded, anti 2 1/2ers. They should put a fence around you all on Main st. and charge admission.
Editor: Yail and Duh, I have removed your last comments. Focus on the issue at hand, not each other. Let's talk about what the city can do next, intelligently if possible. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Not on the exact same subject, but I was watching Boucher and Moulton last night, and a caller claimed he was a Walmart stockholder and that he had requested information from the company on their construction plans for the new North Adams store, and he was told, in essence, it's not going to happen. Have you heard anything on that? I thought the last time the Transcript ran a piece they claimed construction was going to be well underway by now, and yet I haven't seen one shovel in the ground yet.
Editor: No, just that the remediation was taking longer than expected. Thanks, we'll check it out. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Tammy--I take issue with your assertion that your opinion on the override "doesn't make much sense". It does. I think the word you were looking for is that your opinion is "nuanced", which is sadly lacking in much of the discussion in these comments, but which I fervently hope will define the conversation between both sides as we move forward.
Editor: "Overwrought by the override." How succinctly put. And thank you. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Editor. Just trying to clarify where I'm coming from. Trying to get answers. Trying to clarify what these people claim. And trying to defend myself. Apparently the inmates do run this particular asylum. From a 50 some odd yr resident who pays his taxes and cares about his "city". I'll refrain from annoying the inmates further.
Editor: But you won't get answers from them, not really. Don't beat your head against the wall - it hurts. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
I feel for N. Adams to move forward the people needed to pass prop 2.5. I have been a jb supporter, but he is no longer our Mayor. Dick Alcombright was elected by a large margin of votes and seemed to have a huge wave of support. I have been ready to back him and want to see him and the City SUCCEED!! My question is, where are all his backers now ? This is a second major blunder of his tenure as Mayor. The first being the new school proposal and now this! Why didn't his supporters come out to vote ? Could it be that all they wanted was JB out of office no matter who the candidate. I hope not. Lets get behind the Mayor and the City and restore our pride, work ethic, sense of community and stop with all the pathetic whining over a few dollars.
Just wondering how much Bender Cardimino and the other no voters spend on scratch tickets in a years time ?
It amazes me that in a country where we have the right to cast our ballot as we see fit and where we have the right to free speech, we are faced with extreme ridicule and name calling for not agreeing with the opposing side! This is not only a local issue, a Yankee - Red Sox issue, but also a national issue. Because I, or you, do not agree does not make me stupid, a bigot, a racist, etc, etc, etc!
This is not the first time NA has faced this issue and nor will it be the last!
I say folks, first stop the name calling, stop the scare tactics, pull up the boot straps, put on the work gloves and let's get to work to move our city forward....... For those who choose to leave, please feel free, it is your right but do so quietly. North Adams is not the arm pit of anywhere and the grass may look greener over there but it sure isn't!! Just wait and you will see!
This vote is not the end of the world. It may be a sign of tough times ahead but we can all get to the other side if we do it together!
Editor: You're right, it's not the end of the world. Let's look for the positive. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
First, please don\\\'t assume everyone who voted NO is ignorant just because they disagree with you or that they were persuaded by anything Mr. Cardimino said. Most I spoke with made up their own minds after considering the issue. Truth be told, most just didn\\\'t see an end to more tax increases. In addition to the increases over the past year, we\\\'re going to see a tax increase to the max allowed by Prop 2 1/2. Water and sewer will probably go up again. There will probably be a debt exclusion vote requested. And the mention the mayor made of shifting the tax burden from business property to residential properties is a great unknown as to where that will leave us. Taxpayers have control over very little, so we voted to protect ourselves as much as we could. How many city residents might have to choose between paying their taxes and heating their house next winter? To save their home they\\\'d go cold or they won\\\'t pay their taxes and could lose their home. That\\\'s a sacrifice I don\\\'t want to see anyone make. And it\\\'s a real possibility with increases in the cost of living and the tax increase we know is coming. No bitterness, no mudslinging, just reality. Now the taxpayers - all of us, those who voted yes and those who voted no - need to move on. And maybe make a constructive suggestion or two to the mayor and city council about where those cuts might come from - because despite what you say, there are some good minds and a lot of common sense in North Adams.
How does anyone think a Yes or No was a victory. North Adams can not afford to pay its bills, we will all be affected by the lost services. So no tax increase.. we are still in a mess. I see no victories for anyone!
The reason prop 21/2 was first instituted was to get all of our legislators to keep within a budget.If you don't have the money, you can not spend it. Basic money management!
If everyone is so worried about the education of our children, volunteer to help with the extra programs that may be cut. Parents do not instill the basics in their children at home and expect the schools to do it. Many great people graduated from these schools years ago, without having power point presentations, drama classes, every sport in the county. If this is so important to parents they will find a way to fund them. Just maybe the kids could do some work to earn these extras. The time for entitlement is gone by
Remember, you can increase a meals tax or a sales tax without a problem because you can avoid paying them by going to another state or town or even purchase the item on line, but increase property taxes, which can't be avoided and you anger people and increase voter turnout.
Its a shame to see people so petty and low about this sort of thing. This is democracy in action, one of the great things about our society.
That said, I'm very glad to raise my children in Clarksburg where I won't have to rely on North Adams schools until they're older, if at all. This is no dig at the staff of North Adams public schools, Kudos to them for doing a tough and often unrewarding job that is very important for our future. If you want a town with good schools and adequate services, you're going to have to pay for it. By not funding our schools adequately, we shoot ourselves in our collective feet.
Either way this is a non win for everyone . The money the city has lost from its tax base wont be returning , barring an industrial Renaissance .I just don't see how forcing people on fixed or limited incomes into penury will help the city long term.
hopefully this will convince walmart not to build here and save what jobs still exist.
Glenn- You have the right idea. The fact that we were even in a scenario with a huge shortfall that could have been prevented 3 years ago was the tragedy.
The fact that so many of the No voters (at least on this message board) seem to think that they are righteously punishing people for misdeeds is completely [bleeped] up. (That edit was for you, Mme Editor) The misdirected anger is amazing in its complete lack of self awareness.
Sadly the above comment about North Adams being the Armpit of Massachusetts is how much of the rest of the commonwealth views us. We've been the butt of jokes for years because of our entrenched mentalities and provincialism. Our vote yesterday only cements the impression that we would rather put up walls and wallow in our state-welfare-funded misery than put out the welcome mat. And these comments, especially today's, prove beyond any doubt that we deserve what we get.
I'm going to put my head down and keep doing what I do, but it is difficult to care about a community that does not care about itself.
Editor: Thanks for the bleep (hope that catches on) This was, as others have pointed out, a no-win scenario. I believe people made tough choices. One man said it was hard to vote yes but he would take on the chin because he thought it was right; others were rightly concerned about their ability to pay their taxes or having to raise rents.
Yet people are still going to get hurt. Somebody losing their job is nothing to be gleeful about. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Let's put our collective 'happy faces' on now, and go forward to welcome in the WILCO SOLID SOUND people, as they are about to infuse $$$$$ into the North Adams/North County under-structure for a coupla days.
Shall we? :^)
These are the nice family people who can ... and WANT TO.... Save the City.
Let's leave our baggage at the door (who would want it?) and entertain our guests, as we would want to be entertained.
People such as "just me" are so out of touch. Up until two years ago North Adams was recognized around the state and the country as an example of a progressive community. Those who voted no are not the ones setting this city back. You seem to have no history of North Adams and the struggles it over came. Every city has two sides and North Adams is no different. The newer residents along with some of the long time residents wanted change for many reasons. Some thought John Barrett had just been there too long, unions were angry because he was tough and Dick Alcombright was a likable guy who never offended anyone. Many fat cats from Williamstown also finaced Dick's campaign because Barrett would tell them what end is up. Say what you want but Barrett did rebuild North Adams and it recieved a great deal of recognition as an arts community and one which had reinvented itself. It is too bad what is now happening in North Adams because it had come so far and the last thing it needs now is people like "just me" trying to picture it as something it is not. North Adams hasn't been the "butt of joke" for many years but unless this community comes together it will soon retreat to the North Adams of long ago and the jokes will be back. By the the way did other communities around the state in years gone by go bad because they rejected a prop 2 1/2 over ride? Northampton turned one down a few years ago and things seem to be going well there. North Adams will be fine if there is leadership unlike what we have seen over the past 15 months.
Please help me to understand. 1200 people voted to pay more taxes for the kids?? The override did not pass so why is it the 1200 now does not want to help the kids or save the schools by sending the money they said they have ???
Wrong - As someone who moved here because of the propaganda that Barrett put out, you are the one who is wrong.
North Adams is a joke. How many cities take 30 or 40 years to be that "progressive" community you describe? North Adams is no different today than it was in 1986. All that crap where they brought out Harvard students, etc... to show how the "creative economy" can revitalize a community was pure show - There is no economy for the arts here. They have to give gallery space away for free. It is a really bad joke.
The political face of North Adams is only part of the issue. The main issue are the entrenched residents who are poor, bitter and closed minded, and the great swamp of welfare recipients that Barrett's housing policies attracted. You are at least another 30 or 40 years away from becoming anything other than rank, podunk town, with horrible schools and social issues that rival Springfield. But you do happens to have a cool museum. Oh, and the worst four year college in New England, where all the kids drive back to Boston every weekend because the city here is so crappy and unfriendly.
You guys are so closed-minded that you have not been able to capitalize on being in "The Berkshires" or being next to an incredibly wealthy community with lots of disposable income because that might dilute some strange sense of North Adams pride.
I will say it again - Armpit of Massachusetts.
My time and housing investment here has been wasted. Bye Bye.
Editor: I object to your description of my alma mater. It is an excellent college, but I agree there must be better ways to integrate the students into the economy. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Dear Editor, I completely agree with you on MCLA. I graduated in 1983 and now teach there part time. It is a very good school and its current leadership has made great efforts to bridge the "townie and student" gap. It's an issue for almost all colleges. Williams may be an exception because, well, Williams pretty much IS Williamstown in many ways. Bennington College, just north of us, is a nationally recognized institution, but it also has major issues with town gown relations, and has not progressed in that area anywhere near to the extent MCLA has. As for Random Person's "time and investment" in North Adams, I don't think the loss of such a pessimistic whiner who has far more issues than just the loss of the override will be much of a loss for the city. His hate-filled talk will not be missed.
Dear Random Leave, I don't want to be missed. I want my $140,000 back, which will take a few years of renting the house out.
I might care about offending an MCLA staffer if you were at all representative of the community. The facts are that only a handful of your professors live in North Adams, those with kids certainly dont, and the neighborhood north of campus is among the worst in the city. The other neighborhoods just complain trying to keep your students out. I've seen your school make efforts to bridge town-gown, but the residents of North Adams don't care and until they do, nothing will change. They see the students as a nuisance, if they see anything at all.
You can call me hate-filled all you want, but unlike 95% of this city, I made an effort and got nothing but grief. I was called a carpet-bagger by people in power. An "Art-[Bleep]" by a city councilor. (I am not even connected to artist community) I had locals piss on the corner of my house and puke on my lawn on their way home from the bar. The cops get called to domestic abuse cases on my block almost every other weekend. I've had to explain to my children that being 16, pregnant and pushing a baby stroller while in pajama bottoms and a bikini top is not the norm.
My job is a town or two away and I will just move, pay my taxes, be the little league dad, shop in local stores, send my kids to better schools, eat at the local Chinese restaurant, etc... But I won't be doing that in North Adams anymore. Depending on whether I end up closer to Pittsfield or not, I'll come back to shop at WalMart when I need dogfood and shampoo. That's about it.
Bob Don't get ahead of yourself. The mayor has not cut anything yet. If he needs help to make cuts I know who he can call.And I do not agree with you or the editor about the mayor I have my own opinion ,which I am entitled to .
Bob I will tell you what Bob . If you can get the 1200 people who voted yes to send $200.00 to help the city then I will also send the same amount. I will send it directly to the mayor!!!! Now we will see who wants to help the city. How about it Bob can we count on you ?????
NA has a lot going for it, but has a long way to go. I've been here for 6+ years and can see Random Guys point on some things. Many locals are stuck in the past, hoping for the return of manufacturing and openly against the reinvention of the town as an artist colony. They seem miserable with the way things are, yet they doggedly resist change. Everyone here wants a better, more diverse community, with better jobs. No, it's not Williamstown, or Lenox, or Great Barrington, not should it try to be. North Adams is funkier and cooler than they could ever be and has the potential to be so much more.
I'm sorry for some of the regrettable experiences you described. At the same time, I don't know exactly what you expected. A lot of us want to keep moving in the direction we have been but at the same time don't want some complete gentrification. Northampton is a good example of a place that went from being a cool town to having little left of its original character.
The artists are great and I welcome them but North Adams was eccentric long before anybody arrived with a paint brush. We're not looking to lose that. And believe me very few people, including those who voted No hold out any hope that Willy Wonka's going to open the doors to the Mills again.
Bob It may be a surprise to you but the override was voted down by over 500 !!! You seem to think that my vote was the only one???
Anyway. Yes if you can get the 1200 people that voted yes to give $200.00 each and help in other ways I will be #1201 to do the same . That is my real answer Bob.
That's right, "Wayne". The override was voted down by over 500. Now, go an re-read all of the posts that I made and come back with a post that addresses those posts, and not blow smoke as you have been doing. If the rest of the "No" voters have the same cognitive ability as you, I now know why the override was voted down.
Wait! If you can't understand the question, that means I have no hope in getting an answer to it from you. Forget what I said, "Wayne". You win. North Adams loses.
What this Mayor still doesn�t get is that the people don�t have the money to spend, especially where he wants it spent, particularly the part of the override that included rainy day money. We the people would love to have a rainy day account ourselves, but the funds are just not there as the state took them with its 6.25 sales tax. People have gone without as the raises are not forthcoming with the exception of city state and federal workers and the health industry. I have yet to see any monies being reduced for those people included about, they want more and more will not help with any part of a give back as the rest of the population has had to do.
Taxes are the very reason for the uprising against England and that will happen at some point again, maybe not in our lifetime but will happen as thieves have been in the coffers for many years at the federal and state levels. Many of the senators and other are invested in oil, health programs and still vote on that very subject in order to enhance their wealth.
BTW for those that want this tax increase you can donate to the city coffers and take it off you income tax.
Editor: "Donating" to the city will not help the deficit. The deficit will still be there next year. The only recourse was to raise taxes or cut the budget. People would be better off contributing to specific programs (Drama Team, etc.) they are interested in keeping rather than to the general budget. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Just took my pill, "Wayne", and it made me realize that you just proved my point. You didn't understand my post.
So let me get this straight Random Guy... you thought that if the city voters approved this override that suddenly all of the MCLA profs who live in Williamstown would jump to North Adams and buy up all of the available houses and send their kids to the city's schools... that suddenly the "townies" who don't like the students would fall head over heels in love with the college... that the neighborhood you live in would become Pleasantville, where nary is heard a discouraging word... that the local teenage pregnancy rate would plummet and the low income families would all move out, making way for true middle class people to come and play in our fair city... and that the idiots who defaced your property would see the light and move or become model citizens... is that what you're saying? Because the majority voted no, they ruined your utopian makeover for North Adams? Please!
Raising taxes is not a panacea for social ills. The money "raised" by an override would not have gone into neighborhood revitalization or increased crime control or programs to lower teen pregnancy rates or some magic program designed to pay for improvements to the woeful housing stock we have. The lack of that money is not going to add to any of the woes you cite, either.
In a recession, when most who work in the private sector have suffered, have not had pay raises for years, or worse, have lost jobs or had their pay cut, new taxes do one thing - they add to their financial burden, and remove any possibility of disposable income being spent on things that DO help the economy. No one wants to see teachers laid off, or any other city workers for that matter. But, for the past three years, during the worst of the recession, their jobs were secure and they received raises. "We" didn't. The new Mayor then negotiated additional raises, confident that we the taxpayer would just fall all over ourselves to fund them. The reality is if the city's unions wanted to protect jobs, they would offer concessions, and they didn't. The give back of the tiny 1% raises doesn't count for much when they've all received 2 and 3% raises the past three to five years and there is a 2% hike for next year in the current contract. My raise last year? Zero. The year before? Zero. And I work for a good employer, but that employer was hit hard in the recession, just like the city when it lost all of that state aid. But unlike my employer, the city kept giving those raises instead of pushing for concessions, like many other cities and towns in this state did, and the state itself did.
Move if you want, but please don't try to guilt the no voters into believing that adding to the city budget would have solved any of the things you're moving for.
If many the comments are a bit snarly now, I predict that these same jackals will be in a frenzy once the cut to city services are cut. No matter what the cut, they will claim they are missing the real fat. When someone doesn't get a raise they will insist they are paid too much anyway.
Some of the comments have been helpful and thought provoking, but the majority of the thinking here is about a mile wide and less than an inch deep.
Random Thoughts, You seemed to miss the point of the other guy's posts. I believe he was listing the social ills of North Adams and accusing North Adams of not caring about North Adams. It wasn't really about the override.
Your response was glib and off the mark. If you think that cutting policing, services, etc... will not have an impact on the quality of life in our city with the concentrated drug issues, domestic violence, petty crime, and such, you are incredibly wrong.
Nobody is throwing money at problems. They are doing nothing more than responding at this point, and now they will respond even less. And that will certainly affect things.
Several months ago,I attended one of the debt exclusion meetings for the repair and upgrade of our elementary schools. What is happening with that? Did the state decide if that would apply to two schools or just one? If it would apply to just one, what about using Walmart? They're moving on to bigger and better things, and for the cost of the building, we could throw a tax deal their way. They have plenty of parking, and the City Fields are just a few hundred feet away.
Editor: The school project is on hold as the designers take another look at Sullivan School. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
I voted no on the override. I won't bitch if certain services aren't rendered...I'll pitch in myself. We plow both neighbors driveways in the winter, and help as much as we can. You should give us more credit. I'm in my fifties, and was raised with a moral and ethical code. My biological children, and my foster child, were educated in the NA school systems, and McCanns. All three are now in college. IF I am able, being self employed, I will still volunteer my services as a parent and taxpayer in this City. Please do the same.
Editor: Unofficially, Lowe's has been predicated on the Super Walmart being built. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Here is an interesting option. Since we can all agree the population of N adams has shrunk to around 12k, does it make sense to stay a city or go back to being a town? SEems as a town basic services could be kept, without the overhead. Just food for thought.
Editor: It's an idea but not sure how much you'd save - towns have much of the same costs and the same personnel. You'd pay a town manager about the same as a mayor. On the other hand, losing city status would actually reduce the amount of local aid North Adams receives. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Interesting how the transcript has published one letter to the editor in the last 5 days about the over-ride vote, and it was from the mayor. Are you telling me they have received none at all? Please......and its not like they are publishing others and have no room...no letters to the editor at all today....
A shout out to whoever is running that rag...getting a wee bit obvious....
Editor: Speaking from experience, few people write letters to the editor anymore and often it's the same people over and over. Most simply comment on stories. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
I had an interesting conversation with a friend who owns homes in Pittsfield. I've heard so often from those who wanted to raise taxes through the override that North Adams has one of the lowest tax rates in the state and county. If looked at in a vacuum that may be true, but if you do a direct comparison of all fees, it's not. In North Adams I pay for my own waste removal, costs me about $500 a year for my hauler's fees. In Pittsfield you receive trash removal as part of your taxes, every resident in the city gets it, "free." In North Adams I pay water rates based on the water meter reading, and a new sewer user fee. Those cost me nearly $300 a year combined. In Pittsfield, that cost is based on the number of toilets in the home, and again is added to taxes. When you see a Pittsfield tax bill, it's all inclusive. If you add in the trash and water fees to my tax bill in North Adams, it's actually pretty close to a similar bill for a home that is appraised close to mine in Pittsfield.
For those of you who claim we have "one of the lowest tax rates in the state," please review the DOR list of approved tax rates for residential properties in Massachusetts for FY 2011. We are at $14 per thousand dollar valuation for residential taxes. Of the 352 cities and towns in the state, 201 have lower residential tax rates than $14 per thousand. The actual dollar cost may seem lower than many, but that's because of the poor quality of housing stock we have. Taxing it higher and higher won't make that housing stock any better.
Editor: I believe it was comparison in size and service. Hancock has something in the $4 range for a tax rate but they don't fund a police force, they don't fund a fire department, they perform very little road work and operate a tiny elementary school. - Andy McKeever. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Looks like we find out we have been not told the truth AGAIN !!!
Speaking from my experience, letters submitted by email to either The Transcript or the Eagle are put through a software filter which counts "magic" words. If the count is too high, the email automatically goes into the junk pile which is rarely reviewed by human eyes. Almost anything to do with finance or taxes counts as a "magic" word, in addition to the usual four letter words and I bet some of the words in this stream!
Editor: And what is your experience with this magic word counter? Is it similar to the magic word counter on my personal gmail account? -Andy McKeever. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
My last comment was intended to be a reply to "wow"'s note about the absence of letters to the editor in The Transcript about the override.
My letter eventually got published after many emails back and forth with both editors. I have now been placed on their "white" list, which means that my email doesn't go through the filter. Gotta watch my words, though!
Paper letters meeting their guidelines are usually published, by the way.
Sorry, TruthPolice, but apparently the truth hurts, doesn't it?
You cannot separate taxes from the tax rate. And many who were pro override stated implicitly that North Adams has "among the lowest taxes in the state." We don't. Plain and simple. As I pointed out, in case you didn't read my entire post, the actual dollar amount may be "smaller" compared to many towns, but only because the value of our housing stock is lower, which, again I will state, is not cured by raising taxes. Your house doesn't become more valuable because your tax bill is higher. It becomes more valuable as you are financially able to improve it, which many of us can't do if we keep paying higher and higher taxes. And if I can improve it, then the valuation will go higher during the next revaluation, meaning my taxes will go up in accordance with value (of course, any reval done now would be self-defeating, as houses everywhere are worth less than they were just a four years ago).
If my house is worth $150,000, then the direct comparison to what other people are paying in taxes is to take a house of that value in another community and see what they pay per thousand dollars in value. If their rate is lower, they pay less - get it? We are currently taxed at a higher rate than 201 other cities and towns in Massachusetts. It's a fact.
Also, on the editor's note, yes, your rate can be impacted by the size and service level of the town and the town's needs, but again, review the DOR listing and you will see many communities larger than North Adams that have lower tax rates, and many around the same size with lower rates. We are at best average when it comes to taxation rate.
The override also shows that the voters are fed up with how the city is being run by not only the mayor but also some city councilors. A vote of no faith. It also shows that it takes more than special intrest groups to win an election. The voters sent a message that they will not stand for what is going on at city hall.
:: Preliminary Election: Deadline to register is Wednesday, Sept. 7. (Office open from 8 to 8.)
:: General Election: Deadline to register is Tuesday, Oct. 18
Registration can be completed at the city clerk's office at City Hall.
Absentee ballots are now available at the city clerk's office for the Sept. 27 preliminary city election. Voters may come in between the hours of 8 and 4:30 weekdays. Written reguests for mailed ballots can be sent to City Clerk's Office, 10 Main St., North Adams, MA 01247. Deadline for absentee ballots is Monday, Sept. 26, at noon.
The preliminary election will be held Tuesday, Sept. 27, to narrow the field of three mayoral candidates to two. The general election to select nine city councilors and a mayor will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8.