After nearly four hours of public hearings last week, the City Council on Thursday unanimously approved the $126,026,677 budget proposed by Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra for the fiscal year beginning July 1. That is 4.07 percent higher than the city’s current budget for the year ending June 30.
The total $35,159,372 budget for the Northampton Public Schools includes the additional $250,000 approved by the School Committee on April 14 that Superintendent John Provost stated is targeted for raises to school employees currently being negotiated. During debate on the budget, I supported those raises, particularly for educational support professionals.
I also addressed the importance of adequately paying the peer outreach coordinator and three peer outreach workers who will be hired during the next year to staff the new Department of Community Care that is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Here is a link to the fiscal year 2023 budget document:
American Rescue Plan Act Advisory Commission
The mayor’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Advisory Commission, of which I am a member, will hold eight listening sessions ukos month to help inform us about the needs of Northampton as we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. The commission also seeks suggestions about the development of the application process to ensure equitable access for all members of the community.
Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra designated $4 million, or 18%, of Northampton’s ARPA funding to projects designed to aid in recovery from the pandemic and have a positive impact upon the community. These listening sessions are a chance for the ARPA Commission to hear from the community to inform its goal of using the funds to increase equity and help Northampton recover from the negative impacts of the pandemic.
In the coming months, the ARPA Commission will issue a request for proposals (RFP). All projects must respond to negative health or economic impacts caused by the pandemic. There will be information sessions for prospective applicants after the RFP is issued. In addition, information will be posted on the city’s ARPA webpage at northamptonma.gov/ARPA.
Businesses and non-profit organizations are encouraged to attend the meetings on June 7 and 16. However, all community members are welcome to attend any session they choose.
A Spanish language interpreter will be available at the meetings on June 8 and 23 at Jackson Street School and Florence Heights, respectively. Child care is available for attendees at the June 8 meeting at Jackson Street School. Please contact the mayor’s office at 413-587-1249 or [email protected] in advance to sign up for child care.
Masks are encouraged and will be provided at in-person sessions.
Here is a complete list of all sessions:
Tuesday, June 7, noon, hybrid meeting from the City Council chambers, Municipal Office Building, 212 Main St. The Zoom link is
Wednesday, June 8, 6 p.m., in-person at the Jackson Street School cafeteria, 120 Jackson St.
Thursday, June 9, 7 p.m., virtual meeting. The Zoom link is
Monday, June 13, 5:30 p.m., in-person at Union Station, 125A Pleasant St.
Wednesday, June 15, 2 p.m., in-person at the Northampton Senior Center, 67 Conz St.
Thursday, June 16, 3:30 p.m., in-person at the Florence Civic Center, 90 Park St.
Tuesday, June 21, 7 a.m., virtual meeting. The Zoom link is
Thursday, June 23, 6 p.m., in-person at the Florence Heights community room, 178 Florence Road.
“Masonic Street Live”
A new outdoor live performance venue in the Masonic Street parking lot opened Friday and will continue through Sept. 3 as a partnership between the city’s Arts & Culture Department and Iconica Social Club.
“Masonic Street Live” will have a performance stage and public seating in addition to the outdoor seating at Iconica Social Club. Performances will expand what already is offered at Iconica. The city will present local artists on Fridays and Saturdays from 6 to 8 p.m. There will be Salsa lessons for beginners on Mondays from 6 to 8 p.m.
The schedule of performances is available at northamptonartscouncil.org.
This is a continuation of the effort by the city to support downtown economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic through communal outdoor spaces and live entertainment. Again this year, Strong Avenue has been closed to allow for outdoor dining and live music during Summer on Strong.
“Power of Truths”
An arts and education festival focused on social justice and examining the past to better understand today’s issues involving race and equity will be held June 10 and 11 at the Bombyx Center for Arts & Equity at the Florence Congregational Church.
“Power of Truths” is organized by the Northampton Arts Council in collaboration with Michael Lawrence-Riddell, executive director of Self-Evident Education, a non-profit creating multimedia resources to examine the histories and legacies of systemic racism in the United States, and Ousmane Power-Greene, who teaches history at Clark University in Worcester and specializes in African-American social and political movements.
There will be performances by musicians from 7 to 10 p.m. Friday, June 10, and a conference from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m Saturday, June 11, with workshops and a keynote speech by Bayeté Ross Smith, a graduate of Amherst Regional High School who is the artist-in-residence at Columbia Law School.
Tickets good for both days cost between $15 and $25 and are available, along with a schedule of events, at www.poweroftruths.org. Registration is free for up to 100 members of the Northampton Public Schools community, including staff, students and families.
Massachusetts Democratic Party convention
Former Ward 1 City Councilor Michael Quinlan offers this report from the Massachusetts Democratic Party convention held Saturday.
“On Saturday, June 4, the Massachusetts Democratic Party held its convention at the DCU Center in Worcester. I was happy to attend in person; it was my first convention and being there was a great experience.
“Each city and town Democratic Party elects delegates by ward. Northampton’s Ward 1 had four elected delegates and one alternate. The chairperson of the ward is an ex-officio delegate, so we had five voting delegates.
“The point of this convention is to identify the candidates for statewide office. Each nominated candidate is presented and makes a stump speech. Then the delegates vote for their choice.
“The goal for the candidates is to win 50% of the vote which secures the endorsement of the party. If no candidate secures 50%, then there is a runoff of the top two vote-getters. Additionally, any candidate who fails to secure at least 15% of the vote is eliminated from the primary election on Sept. 6.
“Here are the offices, candidates and results:
Auditor – Chris Dempsey (52.6%) and Diana DiZoglio (47.3%)
Attorney General – Andrea Campbell (39.2%), Quentin Palfrey(38.8%) and Shannon Liss-Riordan (21.9%)
Runoff – Palfrey 54%, Campbell 46%
Secretary of State – Tanisha Sullivan (62.4%) and incumbent William Galvin (37.5%)
Lieutenant Governor – Kim Driscoll (41.4%), Tami Gouveia (23%), Eric Lesser (21.2%), Adam Hinds (12.4%) and Bret Bero (2%)
Gouveia declined a runoff, giving Driscoll the endorsement under the 50% threshold.
Governor – Maura Healey (71.2%) and Sonia Chang-Diaz (28.8%)”