Letter: North Adams councilors fail duty to taxpayers

North Adams councilors fail duty to taxpayers

To the editor:

It has become quite clear in the public eye that the North Adams City Council is not working in the best interest of city residents.

On June 14, a meeting was held for the passage of the fiscal 2017 budget, along with a vote on a water and sewer rate increases. Many in the public, especially those not in support of the mayor's fiscal policies, realized long before the vote that it would be just another rubber stamp vote of approval.

What I found very concerning, more than the increase in the water rate, was the arrogance, and disparaging comments made by some councilors to justify an increase. After watching the meeting it became quite evident that the public has no real representation in the city.

These councilors have continued to fail to ask tough questions, vet issues, scrutinize the mayor's fiscal policies, or demand transparency. They lack due diligence. For instance, they never scrutinized the several hefty pay increases in the budget. One was an 18 percent increase equaling $7,800. Another was a $5,000 stipend to oversee an unprofitable skating rink under the administration. The councilors had no problem with raising fees and taxes.

The vast majority of residents are unhappy at paying another increase for water and sewer fees, and higher taxes as they see little or no improvement in their neighborhoods. The City Council has once again allowed Mayor Alcombright to extort the public with increased fees for a basic need for living (water). Those councilors that attempt to justify an increase by insinuating all the money generated is needed to support the operational costs of the water filtration plant are misleading the public. The extra money generated is used as free cash for whatever the mayor so chooses. That is the real issue here.

I, along with many who elected this group, can certainly see a total lack of leadership, knowledge, effort and commitment on making educated decisions in an effort to serve the public well. I am perplexed by councilors who halfheartedly opposed the increase, then vocally supported the mayor's reasoning.

It is unconscionable that these members failed to fully scrutinize and question important issues. These councilors seem to lack a will and conviction to represent the taxpayers. A shameful performance indeed! As frustrated as many may be with this tax-and-spend mayor, the real problem sits with the City Council.

Aaron Crandall, North Adams


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