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2014 Mayor Narkewicz Inaugural Address

2014 Mayor Narkewicz Inaugural Address

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Published by masslive
In his second inaugural address, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz reflected on the accomplishments of his first two years in office as well as highlighting challenges in the future.
In his second inaugural address, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz reflected on the accomplishments of his first two years in office as well as highlighting challenges in the future.

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Published by: masslive on Jan 07, 2014
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Mayor David J. Narkewicz City of Northampton, Massachusetts Monday, January 6, 2014 Good evening.
Judge Goggins, Rabbi David, Reverend Weir, my fellow elected officials, former and outgoing elected officials, our gracious hosts – the staff and volunteers at the Senior Center, other distinguished guests, and my fellow citizens. Thank you all for being here tonight to take part in this important ceremony administering the oaths of office to your city government - elected by you, from among you, and entrusted to serve you the people of this community. I know I speak for all of my colleagues assembled here when I say what an awesome honor and privilege it is to take the oath of office, a formal and public expression of our commitment to leading this great City of Northampton. I personally want to thank Northampton residents for placing your faith and trust in me to serve as your Mayor for a second term. Thanks to all who have supported and sustained me to arrive at this place in time, most especially my parents, siblings, and my wife, Yelena, and our daughters, Emma and Zoe. I am particularly humbled by the historic significance of being the first city resident elected to serve a four-year term as Mayor under our new City Charter. When our city government was established, Northampton’s first chief executive, Mayor Benjamin Cook, was elected to a one-year term in 1885. In fact, our first twenty-one mayors were elected to one-year terms until 1928 when, following a charter change, Mayor Jesse Andre took the oath of office for the first two-year mayoral term. We continued that arc of two-year terms for our chief executives for over eighty years – electing our twenty-second through forty-fourth mayors in biennial elections. This changed when the residents of Northampton voted overwhelmingly in 2012 to revise and modernize our charter, separate our executive and legislative branches of government, and elect mayors to a term of office comparable to our state and federal chief executives. As I look forward to my four years ahead as Mayor, I want to reflect on the significant work we have accomplished together as a city since I raised my right hand two Januarys ago.
One of the major challenges we faced was our fiscal health and the core challenge, as outlined in my first budget message, of local revenues and state aid continuously being outpaced by sharp rises in our fixed costs. We have worked diligently to make prudent budgetary decisions to strengthen the city’s financial position, including:
Tightening internal controls on departmental spending, cell phones, city vehicles, and other city resources.
Reorganizing and merging departmental functions.
Collecting and using data in NorthamptonStat management meetings.
Selling an unused former school building at market rate to reduce our municipal footprint and fiscal liability.
Collaborating with our city and school employees to achieve multi-year contracts with all of our 14 unions.
Implementing historic cost savings for one of our single largest expenses by transferring our municipal health insurance to the state’s G.I.C. program.
Rebuilding our free cash and stabilization reserve funds and maintaining our strong credit rating. Despite all of these efforts, we could not have secured the fiscal stability of this city without the community’s strong vote of support last June for overriding proposition 2
 as part of a multi-year budget stabilization plan to preserve city services and protect our  public schools. That poster-size financial plan I presented to our community now hangs in my office as a continual reminder of the work this Mayor and my financial team and departments must continue to do every day to both meet and exceed its promise to the taxpayers. I look forward to working with the City Council in the months and years ahead to further strengthen our fiscal state of affairs so that we can continue to provide the vital services,  public safety, and quality educational system that this community expects and deserves.
We have also made significant progress on refocusing city efforts to promote economic development in support of current and new business growth and an expansion of our tax  base by:
Reorganizing our economic development mission and staff.
Revising our zoning - particularly on King Street - to provide more flexibility for commercial uses.
Tapping the knowledge and advice of local business sectors through my Economic Development Advisory Committee.
Assisting existing local businesses and actively recruiting new ones.
Providing regional leadership on passenger rail and other issues.
Working with developers and businesses to support new investments and construction for King Street, Atwood Drive, Conz Street, Village Hill, the former Clarke School campus, and other areas of the city.
Teaming with our legislative delegation to secure $3 million in funding to address significant neighborhood drainage issues in Ward 3 neighborhoods and advance important redevelopment efforts at the Three County Fairgrounds.
Protecting Northampton’s economic vitality as a regional destination for arts and entertainment, local restaurants, and independent retailers from the potential negative impacts of a multi-national casino just a short drive south from our thriving downtown.  Northampton has experienced an unprecedented level of economic activity over the last two years. All told we’ve seen thirteen new projects in various stages of permitting and construction valued at almost $90 million, including nearly 250,000 square feet of office space, 108 new hotel rooms and 83 units of mixed income senior housing. When completed, these projects will have expanded our tax base by 3% generating $1.26 million in additional property tax revenues needed to fund our city and schools. We will continue to work with our local business community, Chamber of Commerce, Florence Civic and Business Association, the Business Improvement District, and our state and federal legislators to continue this positive economic momentum for our city.
We have also made great strides toward our goal of using technology to expand communication with residents, deliver information and city services more effectively and efficiently, and foster an unparalleled level of government access and transparency. Someone recounted to me a recent online exchange where a commenter had opined “Narkewicz must be hiding something” to which another quickly retorted, “hiding something - are you kidding - the Mayor tweets what he has for breakfast every morning.”  Now that is a gross exaggeration (#oatmeal), but I will confess to making it a top priority to communicate with residents about my work as Mayor and about the issues and projects we’re working on in city government on their behalf. I’ve made this kind of communication a top priority for my entire Administration, and to that end we’ve strived to expand the use of technology, including:
Using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, NCTV, web alerts, and reverse 911 to push information out to residents.
Implementing Google Apps for Government across all departments.
Moving data storage and municipal finance systems to the cloud.
Investing in computers and technology for our schools and upgrading student information software at NPS and Smith Vocational.

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