Local Issues Concerning Holyoke Residents
What are Kevin Jourdain’s top priorities if elected to the City Council?
- Being Holyoke’s Fiscal Watchdog
- Stabilizing the Budget. Making sure we are being responsible with the public’s money. We need to be holding our departments accountable for their budgets and the quality of their services. The recent years of negative free cash, fiscal mismanagement, overspent grants, and uncollected revenues must end and is unacceptable. The city has drained all of our excess tax levy capacity. The only reason the city is currently holding their budget together is because of the massive increase in residential values to prop them up. What happens when the market corrects as it always does? Holyoke will be in big trouble and that is why our city deserves responsible leadership to prepare now. Kevin has never been afraid to tackle tough decisions. He has 27 years of state and municipal fiscal experience to improve our situation.
- Keeping Holyoke an affordable place to live. We have the highest residential tax burden in Massachusetts. Since Kevin left the Council, Holyoke went from being among the lowest sewer rates in Western Mass to among the highest. We need to protect our seniors and working families.
- Stop the massive tax increases. The Mayor sets the annual tax levy. Holyoke’s tax levy has more than doubled in last 20 years. We have gone up more on taxes in Holyoke in the last 20 years than the city did in its first 150 years. Yet we are told it is never enough. City Hall wants to keep taking more and more from our seniors and working people instead of properly spending the money we are already giving them.
- Rebuild our Cash Reserves. The City in recent years has drained all of its free cash. During the last 2 years, Holyoke actually had negative free cash. We need to be growing the Stabilization fund that those of us in the 1990’s built to protect the city in the event of financial downturns. The recent Mayors have made no deposits into the Stabilization fund since 1999. Proper cash reserves protect the city from very costly higher interest rates on our public bonds and keeps our credit rating up. Kevin will be a good steward of our budget and reserves, as well as, save Holyoke millions in unnecessary costs.
- Responsible Capital Planning. Kevin will work to develop a thoughtful approach towards meeting the needs of our future infrastructure and equipment purchases. Kevin has been part of nearly every major capital project over the last 30 years. New police station, fire station, library, water facilities, sewer facilities, senior center, community field, many parks and playgrounds. As the Chairman of the Water Commission, Kevin currently oversees nearly $25 million in new water projects to improve service, and improve fire protection throughout the city. Kevin will also leverage the $39 Million in new stimulus infrastructure funds we will be receiving over the next 3 years to support economic development, strengthen our financial stability and improve our aging infrastructure. Kevin will make sure we get good value for our money.
- Ending the foolish and hurtful gas moratorium. The Holyoke Gas and Electric is an iconic Holyoke institution and powerful resource to fuel the city’s future development. Kevin will utlize his strong relationship with the G&E’s leadership, lead by our outstanding Manager, to bring the unnecessary gas moratorium to the end. Kevin will not allow the thousands of Holyoke residents who rely on natural gas service to lose it and be forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars in conversion costs to other dangerous and less efficient fuel sources. Our city’s economic development is being held back because we are refusing to allow new businesses and residences to access natural gas. I will work with the G&E and energy partners such as EverSource on an innovative solution to enhance our natural gas capacity to Holyoke that can end the natural gas moratorium quickly. By acting decisively and responsibly we can avoid the hundreds of millions in costs and rate increases our city and residents cannot afford by preserving our natural gas service and also supporting our green energy initatives.
- Ensuring Holyoke is treated fairly. Being a Powerful Advocate for our Residents!
- Equitable State Aid. Kevin will be a powerful advocate for proper resources from the state. When other communities would not help the less advantaged in Massachusetts, Holyoke always stepped up. Boston has not appropriately responded in decades and has continued to short change Holyoke. Boston has never provided us the resources we needed to care for the most vulnerable in our society including the children in our schools. Boston has also rigged the local aid funding formulas against us. They have perpetuated a property tax system that gives the highest bills to the poorest communities. Kevin will fight to take on this systemic unfairness and give Holyoke a powerful advocate for change and justice.
- Getting local control back of our schools. As a father of 3 Holyoke public school kids, Kevin has a deep respect for our teachers and values public education. The state takeover has been a failure by every objective measure. This is largely because the state wanted control but never wanted to do anything significant with that control because they were too cheap to ever provide our kids the resources they needed to be a success. It is because of poor funding and weak leadership as to why our schools have not been successful. In the last 25 years student enrollment has dropped from 7,700 to 5,300 children because parents have had enough. They are voting with their feet. We need to listen to Boston less and our parents and teachers more. Because Boston does not know what to do they start throwing out wild ideas like spending $155 million on 2 new middle schools but then attempted to hand struggling Holyokers the bill. No one believes that the buildings are the number one problem facing the schools yet if the voters did not stop the Boston leadership last election every last available dollar of the city’s resources for the next 20 years would have been consumed on their foolish plan. Boston should pay for the new buildings and should also make sure our kids have the resources they need inside the classroom. They also need to provide supports in the home to make sure our kids can be a success in and out of the classroom. Kevin supports fully funding the Family & Community Engagement Counselors necessary to work with our students and their families in the home so barriers to success are eliminated. Holyoke needs to be on a glide path back to local control as quickly as possible with the resources we need to be a success. Holyoke, in consultation with the state, also needs to select a new transformational leader to shepherd our schools to their greatest potential.
- Improving our Reputation & Image
- Our citizens deserve a high quality of life. Our citizens have a right to a clean city and city that is in a good condition. Kevin will fight to make sure more resources are put in these areas. It is very troubling to see where we are at right now and Kevin looks forward to getting to work on making clean streets and public spaces a priority again. By doing so, we will improve our reputation as a place to locate a business or a family.
- Expand the City’s receivership program. Under Kevin’s watch when he was Council President Holyoke created the city receivership program to get neglected homes repaired and beautified through the powerful receivership program in the Housing court. Receivers are appointed to turn these troubled properties around and they have the financial incentives under law to make it happen. Nothing supports a neighborhood as much as fixing an eyesore. It inspires others to keep their homes nice. It brings life to troubled areas. Kevin will work to expand this program so it really reaches its full potential.
- Economic Development
- Holyoke needs to be business friendly and open for business. Business leaders and new entrepreneurs need to feel welcomed and supported. We need to leverage public resources to support our business community through targeted tax incentives, jobs creating programs, and reasonable permitting to get struggling properties turned around and our tax base expanded