How things have changed. On Friday, more than 75 people including community and business leaders crowded into the little Eagle Street Pocket Park and spilled onto the sidewalk to hear Alcombright sum up two years in office and plans for two more.
It's been a tough 16 months, he acknowledged.
"Upon taking office this country was still reeling from the first economic crisis since the Great Depression," Alcombright said. "During my debates with former Mayor [John] Barrett, he said that the next two years in the city of North Adams would be the most difficult since the 1930s — unquestionably, he was right."
The popular five-term city councilor knocked the state's longest-serving mayor out of the Corner Office in 2009; but victory has been tempered by the city's budgetary struggles. But it's a challenge the former banker said he loves.
Alcombright has been upfront on the fiscal shortfalls facing the state's smallest city. Rising costs and significant reductions in state aid over the past four years — some $2.2 million — has officials scrambling to close a $1 million budget gap and maintain services. Fisal 2012, he warned, "will be a turbulent ride."
Last year, Alcombright increased property taxes 10 percent, hiked water rates and instituted a sewer fee. He alluded to those efforts in his speech, saying citizens acknowledge the need to raise revenue.
"This city has accepted and understood the need to maintain services, and in order to do so, we needed to pay for those services," he said. "Until the state can fund communities again at a higher level, we need to take care of ourselves, we need to weather the storm."
He said he'd worked "tirelessly" to institute sound fiscal practices and pointed to partnerships with citizens and businesses, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and groups like the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition, Partnership for North Adams, Develop North Adams and the local chambers of commerce.
He mentioned his efforts to create regional partnerships — a success that could be determined by the appearances at the rally of Williamstown Town Manager Peter Fohlin and Town Administrators Jonathan Butler of Adams and Michael Canales of Clarksburg. Also at the kickoff were Berkshire Chamber of Commerce President Michael Supranowicz and state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, along with City Councilors Keith Bona, Lisa Blackmer, David Lamarre, David Bond, Michael Bloom and Michael Boland.
Despite the fiscal difficulties, he said, "2010 was a year of the revitalization of the democratic process in North Adams with openness and participation in many levels."
From answering questions on Facebook (3,500 friends and counting) to reinvigorating subcommittees and boards, and engaging citizens, Alcombright said these efforts have "instilled a new and vibrant sense of commuity spirit and volunteerism." Citizens also felt free, he said, to vigorously oppose (if unsuccessfully) the proposed Super Walmart.
Looking forward, he pointed to continuing and beginning work on the armory, Windsor Lake, Historic Valley Park Campground, using events such as the upcoming Solid Sound Festival for future growth, and the pursuit of Green Community status and installations of cost-saving solar arrays at Drury High Scholl and the landfill and, of course, the development of Walmart on Curran Highway that is expected to spark development on the south end.
"Growth is the only catalyst that will ensure a healthy future for those that follow us," he said, and took a swipe at critics who have called the master plan proposal "useless." "I am very much commited to following through with our work toward a community master plan ... through public opinion, and strong governement and private partnership."
Alcombright was applauded several times before concluding his remarks. He hosted a reception next door at Desperados.
"Your support is what put me here, your support is what brings me back," he said, summing up his campaign. "And although we don't agree on all things, we have agreed on most things. And that's what brought me to this day."
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What a joke, he raised taxes to keep vital services! Alcombright raised taxes to give police and fire two years retroactive pay. If that isn't enough he has just settled a contract with the highway department which will increase their salary by 4% over the next two years. Of course no one knows yet because the press in North Adams is too busy writing about the next gallery opening in an empty space in the downtown. This is where my tax dollars are going, raises for the unions who own the Mayor's office. He has not produced one new job and more businesses left the city then have come here. To have only 75 people there, many not from North Adams, is not a real sign of support. After only 15 months in office there should have been three times that number. The old question should now be asked, is North Adams better off today then it was 15 months ago? The simple answer is no, and I voted for this guy!
Dick Alcombright has been open and honest throughout his first 15 months in office, he came into office under a very deep fiscal cloud. Give the guy a break and another two years to turn this city around.He deserves re-election.
I am proud of what Mayor Alcombright has accomplished during his first term. His biggest victory has been in bringing the North Adams community and its neighbors together to provide a bright future for our North Adams. He is to be commended for listening to new ideas and encouraging volunteers to take part in everyday events in our community. VOTE FOR MAYOR ALCOMBRIGHT.
I'd like to see Mr. Alcombright or whoever the next mayor may be to tap into the Biotech world. The United States doesnt manufacture anything anymore but we are trying to beat the world in discovery and biotechnology. Why not look for start up companies and house them in some of the empty buildings on Curran Highway. These are high paying jobs and the wave of the future.
Are you kidding me? There were at least 5 meetings of the school building needs committee that were never posted. Keep buying into that open government stuff he has been feeding you. How about all his cronies he has put on the payroll at very high pay. Fiscal mess and he gives his union buddies pay raises. The fiscal cloud looming over the city is his doing. He can only blame others for so long. Seems the only jobs he created were for his friends.
lets start with raising taxes...if the former mayor had PROPERLY funded the medical insurance trust fund....he would have had to raise taxes, but by taking the 18,200,000 million that should have been put into the trust over his 26 year reign (this number is based on the approximate yearly underfunding as reported in the Scanlon report for a 3 year period of 2.1 million), he used that money to balance the budget...as for jobs Crane announced during the former mayor's rule that they were leaving North Adams....now they are staying, and moving the 40+ job customer service dept, to North Adams...just post facts, and don't make things up, I know that lies are easier, and sometimes more interesting, but facts rule.
What high paid cronies did Alcombright put in office? Most of the department heads are there from Barrett's reign. The only new high paid position is the Superintendant of Public Works. He was already running the city's water treatment plant and took a pay cut to work for the city.
Wow. All the neighboring community town administrators were there. That's something you never saw when JB ran. In these economic times it's good to be working with our neighbors to save money instead of insulting them with childish name calling.
In the last year and a half I have felt a sense of honesty, empathy, courage, and integrity. Our city needs 2 more years of growing this way. We are finally on the right path, and it would be awful to stop and go backwards. D. Alcombright has held up his head high and worked hard for all the people of this city. He stops and listens. He can not fix everything, or please everyone. But at least he is listening, and hear for our people. Thank you Mayor Alcombright for starting to turn our city around!
I worked for Crane 25 years ago when they expanded in North Adams. Check their history in North Adams to see how they once employed over 400 employees. Guess who was the Mayor when they expanded in North Adams? What people care about now is that spending is going up along with taxes. I'm hurting with everything going up and want leadership from my mayor. Right now North Adams is sadly lacking in this area.
Millions less coming in from the state and federal is a challenge. Mayor Alcombright is keeping the city running just fine. The streets got plowed, the roads are getting paved, Moca is still growing, businesses are still openning, and life still moves on. You have my vote Mayor Alcombright. You deserve it with what you walked into and how you handled your first term.
Apples to oranges. They came to the City because Barrett helped them with state money plus the city owned the land. John Black was the guy in charge and he wanted to expand in North Adams. They downsized because of the times as well as the economy. They now also have a management team in place who should have listened to the people who worked their. From what we heard Barrett offered Crane a financial package in an attempt to keep them North Adams. I now drive to Dalton but that could change any moment to with these people.
Bob- we have heard your accusations of the public meetings law being violated for a while. Please tell us exactly what your evidence is, or shut up.
The law is pretty darn specific about how many people can meet, and what actually constitutes a meeting. Are you just making crap up because you don't like something? Or are you actually going to put your facts to the test?
Those of us who pay attention remember that the Babeau campaign disavowed you well over a decade ago because of all the stuff you said. Is this more of that or do you actually have something?
Mayor Alcombright may mean well, but he is simply too easygoing a guy to be an effective mayor. The firefighter, police and teacher unions have all played him like a fiddle - you can bet they'll be working as hard for his re-election as they did for his election, because they all have a lot to lose if he is no longer mayor. He's taken very, very good care of his campaign workers.
What Wayne alluding to was that in return for pay raises they are returning the favor of supporting him. Tammmy you have to start being objective in your reporting. The Mayor claims to have no money yet he has settled a few contracts with the unions which has rewarded them for their support. That is the proof your looking for. I may add that the Mayor did nothing wrong, but he is taking care of his supporters while at the same time raising taxes and fees. Is this a pay off? To some yes, to me it is just politics at its worst. The former Mayor paid the price for taking a hard line with unions and the present Mayor promised them raises. Got to give the Mayor credit as kept his promise to the unions.
the former mayor paid the price????? he didn't pay the medical insurance trust, and used it to balance the budget....that practice should be in a political dictionary as the definition of "smoke and mirrors"
The raises Alcombright gave are half of what JB gave the unions the previous years. If giving the unions raises is a favor than JB did them a bigger a favor. What JB did that Alcombright didn't is hide the facts the city wasn't funding the insurance required by law and under contract. Unions or not the city employees deserved the truth. You may call that a favor. I call it integrity and honesty.
Businesses came to North Adams during Barrett's reign IN SPITE of his role as mayor...not BECAUSE of it. He seemed to want North Adams to remain reliant primarily on state and federal money, making it one of the most attractive cities in Mass. for those wanting to live off of welfare checks. Mayor Alcombright continues to work with members of our community in every corner to achieve success that would last far beyond his time in office. If that was all he had done in the last couple of years that would be enough to re-elect him, but it's just a fraction. He'll have my vote AND my time and resources! (and FYI--I don't work for the city and have no personal or professional connection with the mayor).
How about starting with his secretary. You may not realize this, but there's a pay scale at city hall and that should be adhered to by all. He started his inexperienced secretary out with more than Barrett's secretary of 24 years got when she left. The list goes on and on.
Editor: The mayor's administrative assistant is not making more than the last secretary. The classification and compensation plans are posted on the righthand side of the page. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Sorry Tammy as she is making more based on the longevity payment which was included in Mayor Barrett's secretary's salary. The fist step of that position was $33,000 and not $41,000 which Ms. Loomis started at. Remember what Mayor Alcombright said about her, 'she can write grants'. Ask how many grants she has written since her first day. Around City Hall it is a joke as so many who have been there for years work harder and paid far less.
Editor: I agree, comparing wage steps puts the administrative assistant ahead. That's not what your last comment said, though. The administrative assistant is an S-20A, which is $40,000; the secretary's starting salary, $34,000. I Agree (0) - I Disagree (0)
Proof Thank you. I think that the Editor was a little quick on the key board. Or was it being a tough and overprotective. Either way if I were wrong I would be person enough to apologize.
I am proud to have voted for Dick Alcombright and will vote for him again. He has brought civility, honesty and respect back to the office of Mayor. He is a smart man who realizes that there is no point in looking backwards at the poor management of the former mayor. Dick is looking forward and is engaging the community in his efforts. Yes, the taxes and water bills have gone up, but that is only because the former mayor kept those items artificially low for so long with all the state aid we were getting, plus not funding the health insurance properly. Any city employees who received a raise since his election were not "paid off". They were compensated for the work they do, and sat down and negotiated in good faith with our new mayor. Dick Alcombright is fair and honest, and he deserves another term.
:: 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.