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Treasurer named in Northampton

NORTHAMPTON — The city has a new treasurer, Kristine A. Bissell, of Goshen, pending approval by the City Council on Thursday night.

Bissell, a Northampton native and a graduate of Northampton High School, previously served as assistant treasurer for Northampton from 2009 through 2013. She will succeed George Zimmerman, who retired in April after 10 years on the job.

Also Thursday, the council will be asked to approve Mayor David J. Narkewicz’s proposed $85.8 million spending plan for the fiscal year that starts in July. The proposed budget calls for no significant cuts.

In all, the city’s budget for next year totals $103.9 million, of which $18.1 million is allocated from the city’s four enterprise funds — water, sewer, solid waste and stormwater and flood control. The latter fund is being introduced for the first time starting July 1 and will mean a new fee for property owners.

The council, which scheduled budget hearings for individual departments Wednesday and Thursday, will hold a public hearing to hear comment on the overall budget at 7:05 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the Puchalski Municipal Building. The meeting begins with public comment at 7 p.m.

The council is expected to take an initial vote on the budget at Thursday’s meeting and a final vote June 19.

This budget season is much calmer than a year ago when city officials grappled with a financial crisis before voters approved a $2.5 million Proposition 2½ override last June.

A large portion of the money from the override was set aside in a special fund to maintain level services over a four-year period. The plan called for the city to build this new fund over the first three years and then use it to balance the city budget in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2016. The mayor told the council at its May 16 meeting that updated projections after the first year of the plan show that the money would last an additional two years beyond original estimates.

As for Bissell’s appointment, Narkewicz said in a press release issued Wednesday that he was pleased she would be rejoining the treasurer’s office. “Her experience and knowledge of the community will be a great asset to the City of Northampton,” he stated.

His appointment is subject to confirmation by the City Council.

Bissell is currently the treasurer/collector for the Town of Palmer. She is a former treasurer for Goshen and past member of the Goshen Finance Committee. She was an employee of Florence Savings Bank for 18 years.

In other business, the council will consider:

∎ An order to appropriate $1.5 million for Pulaski Park renovations. The city intends to apply for a state Parklands Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant to pay for upgrades to the park, but it must first demonstrate that it has the money necessary to improve the park prior to state reimbursement.

∎ A second vote on a resolution opposing the Tennessee Gas Pipeline in western and central Massachusetts.

∎ An order to appropriate $2,450 in Community Preservation Act money for a project to eradicate invasive plants at Fitzgerald Lake. The plan calls for eradication of Phragmites australis, or common reed, from a one-acre area at the conservation area’s lake.

∎ An order to appropriate $130,000 in Community Preservation Act money to the city to support an assisted living facility being developed at Village Hill Northampton called Christopher Heights. The 83-unit project will include 43 units of affordable housing. The money would be in addition to $120,000 in CPA funds approved by the council in January 2013.

∎ An order authorizing the mayor to negotiate deals with National Grid, Pan-Am Railways and the state that will allow access ramps to the city’s rail-trail network along King Street and Edwards Square and to connect the rail trail on the west side of the train tracks to the state network of trails on the east side of the tracks.

∎ A transfer of $54,114 to balance the current year’s budget for a variety of city departments to cover salaries, training, supplies and other expenses.

∎ An order to buy a three-quarters-acre parcel on Dike Road for $2,400 from Carrie Purcell and Sandra Boudah, which will allow the city to remove a billboard and close the road that often attracts illegal trash dumping.

∎ An order to accept the donation of a small piece of land off Stone Ridge Drive to expand the Brookwood Marsh Conservation Area, home to the city’s only floating bog.

∎ Final votes on orders to accept an easement to property on Industrial Drive for a new sewer line from Industrial Drive to Bradford Street North, and to appropriate $332,370 from the free-cash account to several snow and ice and flood control accounts.

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