To the Editor:
Mayor Alcombright understands what it takes to manage and promote our city and provide the services that people expect. He is deeply concerned about our cost of living, economic development and keeping North Adams an affordable place to live. He is dedicated to enriching our schools and developing the teaching infrastructure we need to better educate children.
The mayor is very proactive about resolving crime, blight and poverty in our city and has the fortitude and courage to acknowledge the problems that drug and alcohol abuse have on this issue, locally and nationwide.
His challenger, Bob Moulton, has made many negative and untrue statements about our mayor and city. It is true that the mayor has allowed for salary increases to certain city personnel as departments are streamlined and workloads are increased on individuals. However, Bob should remember from his years on the council that these raises pale in comparison to those given out during the previous administration. During those years from 2000 to 2009, the administrative officer went from $45,500 to $71,000; the MIS director went from $41,400 to $71,010; the commissioner of public safety went from $41,400 to $70,132; fire director went from $44,217 to $61,295; police director went from $44,217 to $63,016 and finally the mayor's salary went from $57,000 to $84,470, where it remains today, four years later.
Bob should also know that his allegations of property taxes being worse now than ever before are simply not true. From FY 2005 to 2010, while Bob was a councilor, the tax levy in the city increased from $7.8 million to $ 11.6 million or 67 percent - an average increase of 6.09 percent annually. Under Mayor Alcombright, from FY2011 to 2014, the tax levy in the city increased from $11.6 million to $14.2 million or 22.9 percent — an average increase of 5.75 percent annually.
And Bob should also remember that while those taxes were being increased annually prior to Mayor Alcombright taking office, the FY2005 to 2010 years had the luxury of state aid being increased $698,000 per year on average. From FY2011 to FY 2014, Mayor Alcombright has had to deal with an average reduction in state aid of $336,000 annually.
Bob also seems to be unaware that North Adams taxes are less than our neighboring communities and others outside of our area. The average singl-family home value in North Adams is $135,328 which results in a combined water/sewer and property tax bill of $2,667. Meanwhile, in Adams the same home pays $2,791 per year (with no sewer fee); Clarksburg pays $2,800 a year (without full-time fire department); Pittsfield pays $3,331 per year; Gardner pays $ 4,113 annually and Greenfield pays $4,439 per year.
Regarding unemployment, Bob would have you believe the situation is getting worse when the truth is that the North Adams unemployment rate has gone from 10.2 percent in 2010 to 8.1 percent today, a drop of 2.1 percent. Around the region and state, current unemployment in Adams stands at 8.8 percent; Gardner is at 9.9 percent; Fitchburg 10 percent; Holyoke 11.7 percent; New Bedford 13.1 percent; and Lawrence at 14.9 percent unemployment.
A quick Google search of the words "North Adams Crime rate" will take you to the same large list of websites that Bob probably got his crime information from. What he fails to tell us, however, is that these websites show our city has reported above the national and state average consistently, for over 10 years.
At the McCann debate, Bob criticized Mayor Alcombright for not "extorting" money, through a "linkage" account, from the new Super Walmart. Bob also made another anti-business statement by criticizing the mayor for last year's, ever so slight, reduction in our commercial tax rate that still remains the highest in the state.
I've seen a lot of change in our city having served as a city councilor the past 24 years. And the last four years have been the most positive for North Adams.
Mayor Alcombright is the right man for the job. He has given the city council full transparency to the budget process. He has listened and implemented ideas of citizens and has given the respect that is deserved to our hard working city employees. Mayor Alcombright is an honest man who will keep North Adams an affordable, attractive and safe place to live. He has earned my vote and I encourage you to vote for Mayor Alcombright.
Nov. 4, 2013
Bloom is the current president of the North Adams City Council.