NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) - The Northampton City Council will vote Thursday night to include a proposition 2 ½ override question on the June special election ballot. It's a measure that's expected to pass.
Northampton voters are still weighing the benefits of a $2.5 million tax override.
"I'm going to vote against the override. I think that a city really needs to live within its means. I understand that possibly 22 positions may be eliminated. That's a life changing experience for a lot of wonderful people that serve the city," said Sara Whalen of Northampton.
Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz says the override would close the city's $2.4 million budget gap and avoid layoffs. Narkewicz says that in the last six years, the city has lost over $10 million in state funding, and the costs to run a city are outpacing its revenue.
"We were initially facing, just our health insurance bill was going to go up a million dollars. Just the cost of health insurance from '13 to '14 was going to go up a million dollars," said Narkewicz inside his City Hall office last month.
Much of the money will go towards closing a school budget gap that threatens 17 jobs, and if voters don't approve the override, art programs at Northampton High School would be cut.
"For a lot of them, it's a way to express themselves. And a way to relax and take a break from all of the studying and hard work and learning," said Northampton High student Janeia Wolfson-Milton.
Wolfson-Milton is a senior, who's been in three plays and has taken art classes every year. Next fall she'll be a freshman at Framingham State and plans to study Communication Arts. Some voters feel all students should have the same opportunities.
"The impact on programs you need that aren't deemed as necessary programs, but when you look at it from a holistic point of view are programs that would do some good," said Fred Shea on State Street Thursday afternoon.
Mayor Narkewicz says he understands the voters' concerns and feels that raising property taxes are not a great way to fund local services. He says the state legislature should give the city more local authority to raise revenue in different ways.