NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — The School Committee will hold a public hearing on the fiscal 2012 school budget at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in the Conte Middle School conference room that will be attended by the Finance Committee.
Mayor Richard Alcombright plans to bring the school budget before the City Council at its next meeting on June 14. However, scheduling the Finance Commmittee to review the spending plan beforehand became problematic because of senior week activities (Drury graduates on Thursday) and other commitments, including another presentation on a proposed Proposition 2 1/2 override on Friday night.
The option to meet and review the budget during its presentation to the School Committee was considered after last week's Prop 2 1/2 session since it would allow both committees to meet at once. The School Committee will hold its regular meeting immediately following the public hearing.
Prior to the hearing, the Finance Committee will meet at 5 p.m. in the City Council chambers to review the Northern Berkshire Vocational Regional School District budget with Superintendent James Brosnan.
The school budget being presented on Tuesday is $15.6 million, the largest single item in the city's proposed $35.6 million spending plan.
The budget is also the largest target in "Plan B" should the $1.2 million Prop 2 1/2 override fail on June 21.
Superintendent James Montepare said the school budget has been trimmed by more than $4 million over the past few years and that the budget being presented is $147,000 below this year's.
The administration has identified more than a $1 million in possible program cuts and layoffs, and fees for certain extracurricular activities. School spending, however, cannot go below state-calculated foundation level of $15.4 million without endangering some $14 million in Chapter 70 funds.
At the second of six public hearings on the proposed override, Montepare said the city had been funding well above foundation for years ($3 million or more) but reductions in local aid had decreased its contribution to about a half-million above foundation.
Friday, June 10, Drury High School
Monday, June 13, Greylock Elementary
Wednesday, June 15, Drury High School
Friday, June 17, Greylock Elementary
All presentations begin at 7 p.m.
"The predicament is we're going to find it difficult to cut a million-two without going below foundation," said the mayor at the time.
The override question, which would permanently raise the tax levy to meet current obligations, has divided the city going into the June 21 election. An outspoken group is calling for more reductions in spending to offset the $3.2 million decrease in state aid; others are advocating for the override, saying the city can't afford to cut its schools and services anymore.
A website, VoteYesForNorthAdams.com (created by Brian Miksic), is being promoted on Facebook and offers information on the current budget, the proposed cuts and Proposition 2 1/2. It also has a handy calculator: drop in your property assessment and it will total up the added cost of the override.
Opponents say the override estimates of about $20 a month more for the average home isn't factual because it doesn't take into account last year's 10 percent tax increase, the hike in the water fee and the implementation of a sewer tax. Homeowners have been hit by these increases over last six months in the quarterly bills.
The antagonism is getting heated enough that the mayor posted a message on his Facebook page asking people to leave the "NO on Prop 2 1/2" signs popping up around the city alone.
NorthAdams.com welcomes critical, respectful dialogue. Name-calling, personal attacks, libel, slander or foul language is not allowed. All comments are reviewed before posting and will be deleted or edited as necessary.
Well, we are out of money, and raising taxes in not the issue. Time to cut as low as we legally can with the school (yes it will be tough), then sharpen our pens and cut the rest. Yes, that does mean services will be cut. Yes, that does mean that city jobs may have to be combined. Yes, it is not ideal, but after hearing the mayor say he would not use the money from the land sale to fund the deficit, I refuse to give this man another dime. And that is how the vast majority of the people I speak to on the street feel.
Legally you can't use land sale money for operating costs. It requires special legislation to even do it. That is because that money is supposed to be set aside and used for growth... new buildings, upgrade infrastructure, or even to emergency situations.
We have been letting all that slide for years and our city is crumbling. For God's sake people, snow gets into the cracks in the Safety Building in the winter! This is insane.
While everyone is entitled to their opinion, I do not want to live like a pauper, nor do I want to live in a city that acts like one.
Editor: The school choice funds are being used to maintain certain special ed programs over the next two years. They cannot be used for general operating expenses. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
I wonder if the mayor will give or show a line item budget ??? Councilor Blackmear has ashed for one on at several councilor meetings but as of the last meeting she still didn't have it ??? I guess the councilor will have to demand it under the freedom of information act. Thank you once again Mr. Transparency.
Thank you mayor for asking your supporters to stop stealing the VOTE NO ON PROP. 2 1/2 signs. I am sure that our local police will see that the low life thieves will be prosecuted. ( L.O.L } VOTE NO !!!
So when if we use all the money that is left, the money for education, the money for growth then what? When we still can not pay for basic services and the reserves are gone next year what do we do? Sell the fire trucks? Rent the plow trucks to other towns? It is time to take responsiblity for our city and its future. It is time to realize that for 30 years we have "put it off until next year" Well folks.. next year is here, the sewer pipes are breaking, the Public Safety Building is an embarassment and our kids need every advantage we can give them. It is time to to FIX the problem!
The Editor is getting just like the City Council, she takes everything the Mayor says as gospel. Where do you think they got the money to fund the pay raise which was just given to the teachers? Also go look at the minutes of the School Committee meetings and see if you find where ANY money which has beenappropriated from the school choice account. The Mayor said he could cut 1.3 million from the school budget but now we find out he can only cut $350,000. I would suggest that even though this is "your board" you should start doing some research on what this Mayor says and what is the truth. Did you ask what programs? He is violating several laws many of which are ethics laws violations. He is using city resources and equipment to fight a ballot question and this is illegal. His secretary spends most of day talking with people who involed in supporting the override, a violation of the law. And the beat goes on and on.
Editor: You seem to be spending a lot of time hanging around City Hall listening to people's conversations. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
I think the school dept budget should be broken down by line item to show what the individuals who work in the superintendents office actually make. ie. nancy ziter, jim montepare. How come the municipal budget is broken out clearly and the school dept is not? if any councelors read this, please ask the question at the next meeting. the school dept budget seems to be lacking good detail and those are the areas where things can be hidden
:: 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.