By: Tammy Daniels On: 11:30PM / Wednesday September 14, 2011
Mayoral candidate Ronald Boucher, left, chats with sometime-antagonist and City Council candidate Robert Cardimino after officially launching his campaign at the American Legion on Wednesday.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The so-far low key campaign of mayoral challenger Ronald Boucher shifted into high gear on Wednesday night as he came out swinging against the incumbent.
Boucher, a six-term councilor, described North Adams as headed in the wrong direction and floundering because of Mayor Richard Alcombright's lack of leadership and careless handling of finances.
"As mayor I will bring transparency and responsibility to city government and the taxpayers will know the true financial condition of this city," said Boucher to an enthusiastic crowd of about 100 at the American Legion for his campaign kickoff. "Mayor Alcombright has not been transparent and has done everything possible to hide the true financial condition of this city."
Boucher, president of the City Council, took aim at the incumbent's policies.
"He predicted devastation would happen to the school system and the city if the override should fail," said Boucher, adding "schoolchildren were encourage to stand on the street" holding signs in support. "The devastation the mayor said would happen did not happen ... and we wonder why people do not trust their elected officials."
A number of his statements garnered applause; a few of his supporters were decked in bright red T-shirts with his campaign slogan "Back to Basics."
He claimed the current administration had sought an override to cover $700,000 in union raises and that the school system had been sitting on $1.1 million in available funds. A sewer fee that was supposed to go into an enterprise fund was also being used for pay raises, he said.
The 54-year-old Boucher continued on the attack, saying Alcombright had promised jobs but produced none, watched businesses leave and the hospital fall into bankruptcy, and failed to cultivate the Beacon Hill contacts that would have garnered the city some of the economic development money targeted last month to Adams and Pittsfield.
Boucher said "benches, pocketparks and painted crosswalks" don't add up to economic growth and took Alcombright to task for describing the city's financial condition as "just a little below horrible" in a recent story in The Boston Globe.
"The job of a mayor is to sell and promote the city in a way that will bring people here and not keep them away ... why would anybody consider coming to North Adams after reading the mayor's comments?" he asked. "A true leader should challenge negative portrayals of their city."
Boucher said he would move to establish a for-profit foundation to leverage $2 million in tax credits "awarded the prior administration" to create a Monument Square Business Center that would include the vacant churches and Conte Middle School. Boucher, who had appeared to support a two-school project last month, said decisively on Wednesday that Conte should not be renovated for use as a school because it would limit the area's potential.
He did not offer a position on the school project, which currently is to renovate Conte and construct a new Greylock School.
He also pledged to forge contacts in Boston and aggressively pursue businesses and move forward with the Mohawk Theater project. He envisioned a "resurgent downtown" that could include a longtime favorite of the Barrett administration - a boutique hotel on Eagle Street.
"I will not be passing out pay raises while cutting programs nor will I raise taxes to fund contracts," he vowed. "As your mayor, I will surround myself with the best and brightest people ... I will not tolerate any appareance of conflicts of interest in my administration; transparency will not be just talked about, it will be practiced."
Boucher's challenge is already late in the campaign season; a preliminary between he, fellow challenger Robert Martelle and Alcombright is in two weeks.
"We started our work way before tonight. We've been at it for about two months almost," he said. "We've been making lots of phone calls, we've been identifying the vote, we've been having a lot of meetings ...
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A sewer fee that was supposed to go into an enterprise fund was also being used for pay raises, he said.
This is a very serious matter. The fee was instituted because the infrastructure was in need of maintenance and repair. Or so we were told. The voters have a right to truth about this.
Mayor Alcombright continues to be the right choice to lead our city. He continues to bring transparency and honesty to our government. His financial background is so important in these difficult times. North Adams is a more open community since his election. One can speak openly without reprisal. VOTE ALCOMBRIGHT FOR MAYOR.
If you like Tax & Spend more and more this is all that we have received from mayor alcombright, its time to send a message to the corner office that chance is coming in Nov, and the mayor should be looking for a new job.
Benches, pocket parks and cross walks are worth the effort.. the V O L U N T E E R effort..Not a dime of city money was spent at all on any of this....Mr Boucher..get your facts atraight before spewing lies!
Editor: The commenter is correct; this was done with volunteers and donations. However, Mr. Boucher did not say the city spent money on these, he said they were not economic growth. I Agree (11) - I Disagree (0)
If Mr. Boucher starts off his campaign in this manner he would, in time be a duplicate of John Barrett, who was a 20+years political bully in North Adams. The City of North Adams deserves much better. Mr. Alcombright, inflicted with a terrible economy, and too many Barrett-style citizens, is making and open and reasonably competent effort at governing
What a way to kick off a campaign! Negativity already, thats is exactly what we do not want from a Mayor. Some of the things mentioned in this article about the current Mayor not telling the facts about where fees income is being spent. Why Mr. Boucher as a city counclor are you not asking the important questions, it is your responsibility as an elected official. I am very dissapointed that this campaign will be focused on negativity. I think you have just lost some votes.
The Transcript and the Eagle continue to ignore any article about the mayoral candidates unless it refers to Alcombright. No announcement of this kick off nor the results. I will cancel my subscription due to the media bias. This is disgraceful
LIES!!! Benches, pocket parks and cross walks are worth the effort.. the V O L U N T E E R effort..Not a dime of city money was spent at all on any of this....Mr Boucher..get your facts atraight before spewing lies!
1) Bashing the mayor over the Prop 2 1/2 issue, saying he was dishonest about the financial condition of the city. Why didn't he say that at the Council Meetings?!?! Why not come out and say to the people before they voted that it wasn't necessary. Instead he plays both sides and now comes out swinging.
2) The middle school plan - he supported the two school option at the planning meeting. He stood up and spoke in favor of it. Now, unfortunately, because it may get him some votes, he's against it. C'mon Ron, if you spoke about this other option the night of the planning meeting you might have swayed the decision.
What is the agenda here? Trying to help make the right decisions for the city or just saying whatever gets the vote?
Ron is using a popular 'tea party' strategy. despite what you have stated publically, and how you have voted in the past, none of those things exist, if you deny they happened. Just keep speaking loudly, and some people may believe you.
Ron, just as councilors like Blackmere, talk to the pulse of that particular crowd. He supported the 2 school plan a few weeks ago and now he doesn't. He was for the override now he castises the Mayor for it. Is that what NA needs, someone to flip flop every other week. We have enough of that in Boston and Washington.
Not exactly on topic but re: the override ... if we were tougher on tax delinquents (like Mr. Ransford, whose name was in a story earlier this week as having a poor record for paying his property taxes) we would have an easier time of it. I don't know exactly what he owes, but I bet it's the equivalent of one or two teaching positions. Pay up like the rest of us!
Ron said Alcombright was responsible somehow for the hospital filing for bankruptcy? Sorry, Ron, but the city has NO control over that. It's the paltry sums the state and federal governments pay for Medicaid and Medicare to hospitals that is causing their financial distress, and there was absolutely nothing ANY mayor could do to help. This is BarrettSpeak at its purest.
Everything Ron said was true. The mayor has been spending and giving away money the city does not have. He has given raises when at the same time telling the tax payers that the city does not have any money. What is the truth ??? He has made fools of the city council time and time again. It is time for truth Real truth . VOTE For Ron.
I don't get why he is now against the 2 school Conte Project, when one month ago he spoke FOR it:
"I think you get one opportunity to do these two building projects," said Boucher, who agreed with Bona that "it adds up to a big number." "I believe you get an opportunity, and the worst they can say is no."
mary2 Ron did not kick anyone. He told the truth on what is going on in the city.
The last vote in the city should tell you how over 1800 people feel about what the mayor is doing to the city. The spending should stop and it seems that the mayor did not get the message from the voters the first so not it is time to give the final message and vote him out.
Vote For Ron
A leader with a vision, this is Ron Boucher, accountably, transparency and high quality management skills, one who will work for the betterment of the citizens this is what North Adams needs not more tax and spend.
Come One-- Come All, Meet and Greet the candidate
Sunday Sept 18, noon -6 P.M. Greylock Club, hot dogs and burgers etc.
A picture does tell a thousand words - the same Boucher who chastised Cardimino for years, told him to pretty much shut his trap over and over again, threatened him with removal from the council chambers, now stands smiling with him, and I know I see those strings on both of them... and it's John Barrett as the puppet master. The only reason the master isn't running for mayor himself is because he can't take the chance on losing twice.
Seminar by definition does not mean a group of people with the same talking points... it's a group of people meeting to discuss a common subject, but their opinions on that subject are not necessarily the same. Please, use a dictionary.
Ron says Dick isn't honest but says he should of lied to the boston globe about our financial condition.
Ron wants to help the hospital that has a big union, but doesn't want to give city union workers a raise. You heard it hospital workers. He only wants to be friends with the CEO.
Ron wanted to renovate conte and greylock a month ago and now he doesn't.
Ron wants to be more transparent but again wants to lie to media when it comes to financial conditions.
Ron said he opposed the prop 2 1/2 and said it was wrong but never publicly questioned it as his job of city councilor. From the sounds of it, he said there's a lot wrong he never questioned as a city councilor. If he can't question the mayor, how do I expect him to question bigger politics?
Ron said a true leader shouldnt't say anything negative about the city and that's all he did.
He didn't say anything positive about himself.
As mayor will he knock other cities hoping tourist will come here?
It's like watching a one drunk man ping pong game going back and forth and not having a clue how to play.
To photos; you hit it right on the head, I remember when Barrett and Cardimino were hated enemys until Cardimino went into Paul Babues campaign headquarters and wanted to work for him and get Barrett thrown out of office but the only one that got thrown out was Cardimino out of Pauls headquarters, he was so mad he became a Barrett man and now they are best buddies. Barrett runs Cardimino and Ron they alll flop in the wind
The fact that this story says Boucher "wasn't disappointed with the turnout" means the turnout for this big, huge announcement was far from good. I'd be willing to bet turnout for Alcombright's formal kick-off tonight is a lot larger. Just remember, Barrett ran a negative campaign and got his butt whooped. Boucher is running a negative campaign from the get-go, because from this point forward he'll only say what Barrett tells him to... the result in November will be the same as it was last time.
On a non-partisan issue... I hope the geniuses at the Transcript can now vividly see how their web numbers are plummeting since they instituted their idiotic pay-to-view system... 53 comments here on free iBerkshires... 9 on Transcript.
Back to the basics means back to the way Barrett ran the city with an iron fist, closed doors, paying favors, pressure on businesses, robbing peter, total control in corner office and making lots of enemies. Life was simplier when no one had a clue and weren't allowed to think.
Alcombright has had two kick-off events thus far. The first in the "pocket park" on Eagle Street of which 70 people showed. Two weeks ago he had another one at the mexican restaurant on Eagle St and this one drew a whopping 60 people. Of course the press covered both events because they forgot about the first one he did in April. Tonight Dick had a supper at the Legion in which the numbers were poor for a sitting Mayor. Alcombright might win but he has no respect in his City Hall or among the people. Two years ago was a freak thing and if that same match-up were held this time Alcombright would be gone. If people will remember Barrett refused to go negative in that campaign and really stuck to his platform and the issues. People should go back and listen to the debates and what Barrett predicated happened. So why don't all of you just kick on back and be civil. Boucher by the way made no personal attacks on the Mayor. Being critical of policy is not personal attack.
Rumor has it that the city yard workers received their raise and in fact did not give it back like mentioned a while back. Im curious if the teachers did also. I know several non union employees that have not received a raise, last being July 09' what I am told. I have no personal dislike for neither the mayor or Boucher but watching council meetings etc I feel that the mayor has a better grasp on matters than what Boucher can do. My personal feeling is that Boucher has a publicized criminal past and other than the mayors' family issues at hand, he does not. People can change but I personally would not vote for someone knowing they had a criminal past. The mayor raising taxes the way he has and attempted even further is nothing anybody likes but it is a way of life in this day and age. In any community. Boucher, if elected, will have to do the same, so if those that believe he will not are very naive.
Editor: Stop with all the accusations of lying. Are you all really arguing over who had more people at suppers, etc.? At least find something more interesting to argue about. I Agree (16) - I Disagree (1)
Poor indeed If I may use your words . The mayor is mistaken if he thinks blantant disinformation works in a small town is part of the reason he will not be elected.
- Relying disproportionately on Fed/State funding to run the city will NEVER mean "spending within your means." So, unless Boucher has a plan to change that in one term he's full of it.
- Being truthful is something you actually have to practice, not just say you do, or accuse others of not doing.
-Transparency doesn't mean painting a rosy picture of a dire financial situation that needs to be recognized and dealt with, and as for "fiscal leadership"... he can't even run the council meetings well.
The other side is entitled to opinions about momentum and what the numbers mean. They are NOT entitled to blatantly lie about actual numbers that can be confirmed.
What IS an interesting subject is - Why would supporters of the underdog feel the need to lie in the local media?
I know you were not there because the media chooses not to cover fundraisers. That's fine. But allowing people to try and pass off lies as statements of fact in these comments is violation of your TOS.
Thanks for keeping the real trash off this site, but some of the small stuff still sneaks by. (I see you put in the moderated comments again. Interesting.)
Editor: Our policy is to moderate comments. For some reason comments posted on the election blog were going live and we were not getting notification. That has been corrected. I Agree (1) - I Disagree (0)
While it's no longer "under construction", the "Important Issues" of Boucher's site is now just a lists issues.
It does not address them in any way, or offer his insight, ideas or opinions on any of them. What good does that do for the voters trying to learn what Boucher stands for?
(It does however request that if YOU have any ideas on these issues you should write to him...)
"Poor indeed" is wrong. It's not about who had more but it's about giving correct information. A little under 400 people attended last nights mayor alcombrights dinner. That will be proved by the financial reports that get handed in showing how much was paid to the legion for dinners. The editor is correct that it has nothing to do with votes, but it's factual information. The pictures on the mayors facebook show a packed house.
This is not true about Caridmino. I am Paul's sister and was working on his campaign. Cardimino gave Paul thousand of dollars to him which he did not report. Cardimino was working hard in the Kitchen cooking for one of his fundraiser at the American Legion. When it was time to serve the customers, my brother Shaun went back to the Kitchen and told Cardimino that Paul said he had to leave now that he did not want him serving the people. Paul was terrible like that. Just like the last Campaign when Dick A. was running against Barrett. I asked Dick if he was dealing with Paul and he said he had only heard from him once. Dick lied as usual, because Paul was helping everyday behind the scenes. [KITTENS!]But, I think it is the comments on here that are being negative towards Ron. And Barrett has not even said anything and he is being attacked.
Hey Dick, say hi to Paul for me. I am sure you are in contact with the brother that ran out of town for many reasons.
Editor: Please leave candidates' family members out of this. Second, we don't know who you are so any of your comments are suspect. I Agree (10) - I Disagree (0)
then why post it if you suspect it's a lie. DO you wait to be threatened to be sued. Doubtful this is Pauls sister. Editor notes are baby slaps on the hand becuase you let it continue over and over and over.
This post MUST be removed. It is libelous. and iBerkshires will be liable for it. Obviously this is NOT true, and this person is NOT who they say they are. This website is giving disservice to it's readers for having this on their site.
If it is true Cardinimo broke the law also. If anyone knows the rules, he does, and he knows he can't give that much to a political campaign. If he gave that much to Babeu unreported, how much has he given to Barrett and Boucher unreported?
Editor: I don't know but this article has nothing to do with Paul or Paul's campaign or what his sister thinks may or may not have happened. Anymore posts along these lines will be deleted. I Agree (1) - I Disagree (1)
If I were running for reelection I would expect all on the payroll to show or ??
As far a I know Ron does not have anyone on the payroll just people who believe in what he has to say. Truth. VOTE FOR RON
As a business woman who has many local clients (I work in Pittsfield and live there) I want to offer up this observation. There is a tremendous ground swell of support for Mr Boucher. When I inquired as to why the main reason is people have lost faith in the cuurent mayor (mainly over the over ride issue). Also one of the business owners mentioned they know the mayor and he is privately very worried. Just an outsider's perspective
I suggested that the names of people who are delinquent in their real estate taxes be published in the Transcript and was called to task for saying such a thing. Why not? I can assure you that it will make some pay up.
Well I Dont Hear Any Idear Coming From This All I Hear Is Every One Bashing One Another From What I Have Read Here.... I Dont See Were All This Is Going To Help With Any Thing Its Called How Old Are We All Again Stop The Bashing And Get To The Point Of All This If He Wants To Be Mayor Then Show Us And The Peolpe.... Just Like Mr.Marttlle.
Marttlle Has Welcome Every Ones Opinion To Make This A Better Town And He Is Listen To The Taxs Payers??????
What Are You Doing About That Or Thinking Of Doing About That You Mine To Share With Us On That Lik Mr.Marttlle Has???
Ron truth tellers are always attacked. When people can not debate truth they attack the truth teller. The mayor has nothing to run on but his poor record and the only thing he can do is hide behind the few people who attack anyone who dare tells the truth. Keep up the good work Ron.
Come on editor, he isn't campaigning, he isn't advertising anywhere, he isn't going door to door. He got his name on the ballot and we're days away from the primary that HE is responsible for, and all it's doing is costing the city money. We all know he won't win, and he won't come in second. He talks about how people in North Adams can't afford new taxes, and then he runs for an office and forces a primary that will cost the city thousands, all for NOTHING. Want to see waste, Mr. Martelle? Look in the mirror.
Quite a lot of Boucher signs....just my humble opinion, but the rumors of ground swelling support seem to be true. I was not sure to believe "the majority of NA is backing Ron" mantra, but this seems to be playing out. Also, surprised Dick is going negative so fast. Usually that happens with no record to run on. Just an observation.
Editor: There have been a number of comments of the mayor "going negative so fast." There is nothing on iBerkshires indicating in anyway - at least up to 2:45 p.m. on Sept. 19 - that the mayor has gone "negative." We haven't even interviewed him yet! Unless you can provide a factual, documented instance of "going negative" that does not include random anonymous comments, stop posting nonsense.
We also want people to not dis Mr. Boucher and Mr. Martelle. Stick to platforms, not personalities. I Agree (6) - I Disagree (0)
You don't have to have a comments feature on iberkshires. Unfortunately, our local political discourse has become more active than healthy. I thought it would fizzle out after the override failed but I guess a lot of people found a new hobby.
This administration doesn't support negative campaigning towards opponents, threaten, or use scare tactics to make voters hide. They can support Mayor Alcombright or not and they are still accepted in city hall and listened to. Even Mr. Cardimino said on his show he calls and talks to the mayor. They don't agree with one another but he's still listened to. That didn't happen when former mayor Barrett and Mr. Cardimino were at odds. Ron started his campaign with numerous negative attacks in the media. He could have expressed the same agenda in a more professional manner. We don't need that shoot from the hip attitude leading city hall again.
Listen Not negative attacks , truth. Ron only told the truth and now a hand full of the mayors friends are attacking him. It is the mayor and friends that are running a negative champaign . The mayor has nothing else to run on , so his friends attack anyone that reminds the voters of the truth. Keep telling the truth Ron . You will be attacked by a few but respected by many.
Doesnt use scare tactics....uh....what about the prop 2.5 over-ride....even ardent supporters of the mayor admitted there were scare tactics used. And that seems to imply scare tactics were used under Barrett. That is a strong, libelous statement, can you back it with facts.
Ron supported the mayor on every level, but now he wants to be mayor and changed his turn, we need strong leadership not flip flops, ron you lost my vote and my entire family. Question Ron, what do you do for a living?
Anybody who thinks that scare tactics were used with Prop 2 1/2 does not understand what losing 10 teaching positions and 9 support/administrative positions means to a small, four school district. We now fund the schools at the MINIMUM allowed by law yet we have one of the hardest student populations to educate.
Congrats. You got what you wanted, but you have also ensured that the North Adams Public Schools will get worse before they get better.
Listen up folks... we drained every last dime in our reserves as not to cut any more than we had to. Now, unless the state kicks us more money, we are looking at an $800,000 hole in our budget... as projected.
Again, the people spoke on the 2 1/2 vote... but we will continue to see the effects for many, many years.
To those that continue to talk of "going negative", this is what Mayor Alcombright posted the day this story ran:
"I have had calls today asking me to “strike back” after reading my opponents remarks in the media. While I thank you for your support I will not be lured into a negative campaign through attacks on my record. I will do what I did in the 2009 campaign, move forward with a positive message. I will run on what WE have accomplished in just 21 short months. I will not degrade my opponent and I will continue to ask that all supporters and opponents keep this campaign positive. Thanks to all… Dick"
REDUCED spending in the city by over $1 million dollars. Those are REAL dollars, not the "baseline" budgeting that Washington is so fond of.
Had the State Department of Revenue suggest that his budgeting process be made into an ordinance because it was so effective and TRANSPARENT.
Regardless of the caterwauling by his opponents, kept North Adams' ACTUAL average tax bill among the 10 lowest in the state.
Settled the Health Insurance Trust for $800K instead of the $2.1 + Interest that would have been awarded in the courts.
Allowed the Planning Board to do its job rather than the Mayor's bidding.
Improved the veterans services in the city.
Saved money in the public safety budget by reducing overtime.
Finished good projects begun under the previous administration such as the airport, major repaving and Main St. Still working on Barrett's attempt to get the state to pay for two new elementary schools.
And he did all this without being a complete jerk, something that his nameless internet opponents still seem to think is a requirement for being mayor in North Adams.
Try If the mayor saved so much money why ask for 2 overrides.
Inprove Vet service. How we still have a part timer.
Settle the Insurance trust ?? How do you know what the courts would , do you have a crystal ball?
Low tax bill ?? No thanks to this mayor are you kidding ??
Finish good projects started by John. He had no choice.
John wanted two schools ??
Finish paving Min St. Again he had nothihg to say about it .
So nice try Mr. Try , try again.
Can you do the math? The state took away aid money, and even with tax increases and a sewer few, WE ARE SPENDING $1.125 MILLION DOLLARS LESS NOW THAN WHEN JOHN LEFT OFFICE!!!
The Trust Fund was a bad joke by Barrett. That's the reason he freaked out and threatened to have a teacher arrested in City Hall when she asked to see the numbers. $800K WAS A BARGAIN. (Ask Ron why he voted for the settlement if you think it was wrong.)
On Tax Bills - Out of 338 Massachusetts towns and cities, we have the 331st lowest average bill. http://1.usa.gov/blaUzd
North Adams Average Single Family Property Tax -
$1896 FY '11 (ended June 30)
Massachusetts Average Bill -
$4537 FY '11
Veteran's agent - The shared multi-community agent is doing a better job than what was happening before. A full time, North Adams only, agent would cost $40K a year. The city awaits your check because I know just how much you love writing checks to City Hall.
Dick could have scuttled any of the grant programs that had a matching component from the city, including Main St. and the Airport to save money. He finished them because INFRASTRUCTURE IS IMPORTANT.
John initiated the review of school buildings after he closed Conte and sent the 7th grade back into the elementary schools. He, and anyone paying attention, knew that it would require two new buildings, or one large one, for the 630 student solution.
You really should have a few more FACTS before you start typing. Nice try yourself, buddy.
Try You forgot the mayor gave us the highest taxes in 26 years.
The mayor gave raises when at the same time telling the taxpayers that the city had no money. I could go on and on but that wouud only give you and a few others something to distract from the fact the mayor has not done anything for the taxpayers. So Mr. Try have a nice day. VOTE FOR RON
Editor: Yet you chastise other posters for saying what they believe will happen. Should the MSBA and council approve, the city may ask for a Prop 2 1/2 debt exclusion to allow borrowing for the school. When that happens, you can talk about two overrides. Until then, you're wrong. I Agree (2) - I Disagree (2)
I don't have kids in the North Adams school district. I have heard from others that the amount of school fees and required supplies are quite high this year effecting most parents and their ability to purchase everything required and if their children want to participate in any extra-curricular activities, it is a hardship. If these kids are going to college and don't have activities, you don't get in. I also heard that teachers that retired/left, etc. were not replaced effecting the classroom size. Those of you who believe this hasn't affected the children, are wrong.
Sorry Try, but you should state facts in context instead of trying to make them work in your favor. Yes, in overall dollars the city of North Adams has "low" taxes. But you fail to mention that its tax RATE is average and there are hundreds of other communities in the state with lower property tax rates (just check the DOR website - in fact, many Berkshire communities have lower rates than we do). The reason the city has "low" taxes in pure dollars is because it is also one of the poorest communities in the state, and as a result the housing values are lower than most other communities. If our homes were worth what they are in other communities, our taxes paid in overall dollars based on valuation would be much higher, but the reality we have a predominantly low income population and one of the highest rates of seniors in the area, which means a lower overall tax paid. In other words, we pay what we can afford. The average income per resident in North Adams is around $20,000 a year, much lower than other cities and towns. So, you can jump up taxes all you want, but few will be able to afford to pay them and that leaves you with the few subsidizing the many, which as we've seen nationally... does not work. We're already seeing many city residents not paying their taxes, and the city has little it can do to stop that outside of taking the properties, which is a long and often futile process, thanks to the state Land Court drawing it out for years. And by the way, if you want to pay more in taxes, you can! It's your choice, but hey, I know what your answer is... nope.
So let me get this straight, concerned citizen... these parents who are facing hardships paying for materials for their kids to participate in extra-curricular activities cannot afford to pay for them, and yet you supported a proposed tax override that would have stuck them all with hundreds of dollars more per year in tax payments, permanently. Could they have more easily afforded that? I doubt it. Also, colleges do not base admission on activities. Admission is based on GPA and sometimes SATs. For some high end colleges, a load of activities can help push a very good student from not being accepted to being accepted, but for the vast majority of colleges, that is not the case. UMass has over 20,000 students - do you really believe all of them had a laundry list of activities in high school that helped them get in? Doubtful at best. And by the way, they're called EXTRA-curricular activities for a reason - they're not part of the curriculum, which is what we send kids to school for. If my kid plays football, I am willing to spend more for him to play. It's a three year commitment while he's in school - not a lifetime tax increase.
I'd ask you to actually take a ride around town, Backwards Logic, and see our housing stock for yourself, and don't just stop on Marion Avenue. Our housing stock is very old, many of the homes are run down, and many of the owners cannot afford pricey repairs or renovations, because they are low income. If your average salary is $20,000, you cannot afford to put a new $25,000 kitchen in. Many low income people were sucked into the housing market by those shady mortgage deals, and now those homes are in foreclosure or people are just barely hanging on since the recession (which continues here, by the way). I've seen it, I know people it's happened to and is happening to. They voted against the override because they have no more money to throw at taxes. Your point about "no one wanting to buy" in North Adams is a half-truth. If homes are in bad shape, no one buys, that's true. But because of that, even nicer homes are not valued as much, because the city economy is poor. When has increasing taxes ever aided an economy? It doesn't. It saps disposable income out of the economy. City government has to live within its means, just like we do. And as long as I'm subsidizing literally hundreds of city residents who are not paying their own property taxes and getting away with it, I will not, ever, support an override.
In response to MoneyisMoney, as i understood it, the average increase in a tax bill was under $200 per year if the override took place. If you have 3 kids each playing 1 sport at $75 each and another $50 per kid in schools supplies (conservatively) over 12 years, that would be much more than the tax increase. Also, a lot of the working poorest people in North Adams are not fortunate enough to own homes, but do have children. I suppose you really don't care about them, anyway right? I don't know when you were last in college or last put a kid though college; I've put two through recently. Some schools don't even use SAT scores anymore they've moved on to other scoring methods like ACT's. Also, you need to stand out in the crowd of kids with the best credentials and the way they do that is look at your extra-curricular activities such as yearbook committee, SPORTS, debate team, prom committee, school play; if they don't have the money to play sports or these items are cut due to lack of money or teachers to run them, then it will affect them getting into college.
Houses in the worst neighborhoods of Boston command the same prices as the best houses we have in our best neighborhoods.
There is demand for reasonably priced housing in North County/Southern Vermont. But unlike Clarksburg, Stamford, Williamstown, Hancock, etc... we have been unable to convince these people to buy in North Adams. It ain't the taxes keeping them away.
The fact is that nobody wants to come to North Adams. If people wanted to move here, property values would rise accordingly, even for the run down places, which would eventually be fixed up or torn down.
You can complain all you want about being at the bottom of the income ladder of the state. We are also at the bottom of the tax bill ladder. Things are not out of proportion.
Your comment about hundreds not paying their property taxes is curious. A quick check of the 2010 audit says that only $27,000 of unpaid bills are deemed uncollectable. The rest of these tax receivables are already in lien/foreclosure.
How do you propose the government collect faster than the process currently provided for in the law? Nobody is getting away with anything.
The Mayor, who will be re-elected, will probably not try another 2 1/2 property tax override. He will cut. And most of the folks complaining about taxes will be the loudest complaining about services.
I can handle the cuts. A lot of the $20K folks won't be able to. It will get ugly.
To answer your questions, I have put two children through college - both got in to the schools of their choice, one was in the Drury Band and softball, the other had no activities whatsoever and was admitted to a large and respected midwestern university. And both graduated recently. Also, your activity math is way off when you compare it to a tax increase. Many of these activities are sports, and they are limited in most cases to high school - three year, not 12. And the override would have been permanent, as in forever, as in it never leaves. So, using your math, that $200 a year over just ten years is $2,000. Twenty years it's $4,000. Get it? An override is not temporary, it's on your tax bill for good, unless it's a debt exclusion, which is temporary until the thing you're excluding is paid for, such as the school project. And you'd be surprised how many low income people do own homes. I do care about their kids, I pay my taxes, which is a lot more than i can say for hundreds of other people who don't. My next door neighbor owns FIVE pieces of property, pays NO taxes for three years and loses NO property over it. Maybe you should ask him if he cares about the children?
Backswards, it is clear to me that the mayor will not be re-elected. Today's performance in my opinion assured that. Ron spoke well, and put to rest fears in people's mind that he is qualified (in my opinion). Everyone now knows he can handle it.
I can see that you're a jock and your kids are jocks and you just can't wrap your head around anything beyond that being your focus. When you cut down on the amount of teachers you have you lose music, art, etc. If you are, for instance, going into anything that has a music or art background in college and they cut it in the lower grades for your introductions to it, and you then don't have it in high school you don't have it on your college resume (but you can play football, hooray). My math wasn't to be literal how about 5 kids that play 2 sports each . . . I know tax increases are permanent, but a part of life. If you can't afford you house, sell it. As for your kids, my daughter graduated in 6th in her class and was accepted to every college she applied (private schools) with a 3 page resume of extra curricular activities. My son was in the top third of his class, only sports on his resume, got into a state school. He didn't feel the school was really up to snuff. Had teachers that barely spoke English. I know a lot of kids that went to college and your kids are the exception not the rule.
Overrides are only permanent in the sense that if the rate never falls it stays around. However as city revenues improve and the rate goes back down, it is not permanent. The rate cannot increase more than 2.5 without another override.
It is a one time increase in the levy ceiling. Think of it like a staircase where you can only climb 2.5 steps up at one time. Depending on revenues and expenses, you move up or down. You can go down as far as you need to to balance your budget, but you can never go up more than 2.5 steps without a vote regardless of previous votes.
Every statement you made including tax bills is a continuation of lies which have come from the Alcombright administration. How can you reduce spending when you give out pay raises and increase the number of employees. In the last two weeks he hired two more people in the public works department. His Commissioner Lescarbeau has hired several of his relatives and nobody says a word. Oh and what a great job the Planning Board is doing taking care of all the Mayor's friends. Nice new sign at the former Taylor's Restaurant. The whole city is going down the tube with no new jobs. How about the comment he made in the Boston Globe about how bad North Adams is! Keep up the good work Dick you really should be so proud of your first term accomplishments, not.
Clarksburg: Election, May 27, noon to 7; town meeting, June 18
Williamstown: Election, May 13, 7-8; town meeting, May 20, 7 p.m.
The cities of Pittsfield and North Adams will hold municipal elections for mayor, city council and school committee in 2015
You may vote absentee: if you will be absent from your town or city on election day, have a physical disability that prevents you from voting at the polls or cannot vote at the polls because to religious beliefs.