Sam Hopper: Mayor’s budget role not dictated by Northampton charter

Northampton City Hall

Northampton City Hall GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Published: 05-14-2024 4:55 PM

I have a deep appreciation and respect for people engaging in the democratic process, having had the honor of serving constituents in western Massachusetts as a legislative staffer. In my role of connecting people with their government, I witnessed firsthand that work based on incorrect information hinders effective engagement with democracy. I also experienced the importance and power of truth in fostering connections that create effective solutions.

In the spirit of truth mattering, it’s important to me to address the misunderstanding of Northampton’s charter in Ward 4 School Committee member Michael Stein’s recent column (“Serving educational needs shouldn’t be ‘aspirational,’” Gazette, May 6). Stein writes he’s for “democratizing the [budget] process” and those who dissent with his approach are doing so because they “favor the ‘strong mayor’ charter.” Having co-led Northampton’s 2019 Charter Review Committee as vice chair, I am compelled to clarify that the mayor’s role in the city’s budget process is not at all dictated by Northampton’s charter. It is Massachusetts General Law that clearly assigns mayors with the responsibility of assembling budgets. In cities with a city manager form of government where the manager is appointed and not democratically elected, Massachusetts General Law assigns the manager with the responsibility of assembling budgets. I urge us all to engage in a democratic process that recognizes our shared goals and unites us in truth so our community can move forward together.

Sam Hopper

Florence

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