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In The News
August 25, 2015:
Holyoke orders former Treasurer to repay part of his salary

August 6, 2015:
Holyoke, Gandara Center clash over $44,000 in lease payments

August 5, 2015:
Holyoke binding ballot questions to change government taking shape

July 20, 2015:
Holyoke Police seize 2 handguns, suspect arrested

June 30, 2015:
Holyoke Councilors like Fire Department grease-fire prevention plan, but not fee

June 25, 2015:
Holyoke Council grants permits for $10 million Gary Rome Hyundai project

June 25, 2015:
If you have no plans Saturday morning, Holyoke Council will do marathon budget review

June 23, 2015:
Gary Rome Hyundai seeks permits from Holyoke Council for $10 million project

June 18, 2015:
Holyoke residents' call for investigation of Morse-Egan separation agreement in committee

June 16, 2015:
Holyoke Council to get letters on YMCA, Morse-Egan separation agreement

June 12, 2015:
Friends of Mater Dolorosa Church to honor 7 Holyoke Councilors

June 11, 2015:
Holyoke Ward 5 Councilor Linda Vacon holding forum with residents

June 10, 2015:
Holyoke Councilors praise new Gold Star Mothers chapter bid to reach out

June 3, 2015:
Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse should face ethics complaint: councilors



Local News Archive



HOLYOKE MASSACHUSETTS
WARD 5 CITY COUNCILOR
THANK YOU FOR GIVING ME THE OPPORTUNITY TO SERVE YOU AS YOUR WARD 5 CITY COUNCILOR!
I promise to work hard and do the best job I can for you and Holyoke

Keeping you informed:
Planning Board request of City Council to review the site plan for the 150 Whiting Farms Road Gary Rome proposed business

City Council requests Treasurer Jon Lumbra return any pay he received from his job as Treasurer after he began full time employment at Loomis House
Read Order here


CITIZEN’S FORUM

for WARD 5 RESIDENTS
Meet with Linda at Mrs. Mitchell’s
located in the plaza at Homestead and Westfield Road (Rt. 202)
Thursday, June 18, 2015 6:00 p.m.
AGENDA
  1. Gary Rome Update
  2. HCC road open/any issues
  3. Holyoke Hotel Project Update
  4. Budget review for vote June 24
  5. Other issues as requested
VIEW/PRINT forum minutes


Letter to the Editor by Councilor Vacon
Holyoke residents with private systems should be excluded from water runoff fees

View/Print
See Letter on line
Letter to Editor:
It is NOT fair for residents who pay for private sewer services (septic systems) to be charged an added fee for storm water. As it is, they have been subsidizing the inadequate sewer fee through their property taxes for the last two years. Storm water from the area of the city without a sewer system does not even reach the treatment plant as storm water cannot travel up the Rt. 202 hill to enter the treatment plant.

Those with septic systems want to pay for services they actually receive from the city and that the city is able to provide. It has been stated that there is no sewer service available for approximately 700 homes in Holyoke. Those cities that have a storm water fee probably all have homes on the city sewer system. In that situation everyone is paying for a service they receive.
Click here to continue reading ...

Those with septic systems have paid for the maintenance, testing and compliance with Title V regulations since they purchased their homes. There has been no assistance from the City and none is proposed in the Mayor's budget.

Those who receive sewer service have had one increase in the sewer fee since the upgrades were completed at the water treatment facility.

The budget proposed by the Mayor asks that those with private septic systems continue to subsidize the losses in the sewer fund and IN ADDITION pay a storm water runoff fee.

There is no water running off from those who pay for private septic services into the water treatment facility. Again, it is impossible for water to flow up Route 202 to enter the water treatment plant.

To shift the cost of the sewer upgrade to those who have paid the full cost of private septic costs on their own is unfair. Establishing fees on all to help some is just a 'hidden' tax, and one that cannot be written off because it is proposed as a fee. There are certain limited government services that we all pay for that serve the entire community. The sewer service is NOT one of them!

What should be done?

On December 2, 2014, our highly regarded Acting City Auditor put forth a step by step approach to bring the sewer rates in line with the costs. He recommended a $1 increase over time to avoid the shock of a steep increase (that did not pass the City Council as it was too much of an increase all at once).

The Mayor could have included this recommendation in the budget, but instead retained the subsidy and ADDED another fee. This is not a business friendly proposal.
The addition of the storm water fee to those who do not receive sewer service is not a matter of taxpayers paying their fair share. It is a DOUBLE CHARGE to taxpayers who do not receive a service from the city.

It is time for local government to live within its means as taxpayers must. When free cash is certified it should be used to balance the sewer fund, not to further expand local government. Those taxpayers who pay for their own septic systems should not be required to pay any more and our business owners do not need another fee added to their cost of doing business.

Linda Vacon, Holyoke City Councilor Ward 5
Finished reading

Recent Press releases:
  • NEEDLE EXCHANGE HURTING PUBLIC SAFETY
    Holyoke, MA.Today Holyoke Ward 5 City Councilor Linda Vacon announced that she will continue to fight the needle exchange program. "We need to keep our streets safe. Unfortunately, the needle exchange program that costs taxpayers over $150,000 annually, acts like a magnet and is bringing more problems into our community. ... Continue reading ....

More Info on Needle Exchange

Letter to Editor by Linda to Holyoke Sun
PDF pg. 6 | Jan. 18, 2013 Holyoke Sun issue

Transparency needed

Op-ed by Linda, Herald Publications

Aug. 28, 2012
Holyoke Board of Health Chairwoman Ms. Katherine Liptak, RN, promised me references (during the public meeting) of studies the board utilized to come to their decision in favor of needle exchange. There has been no information forthcoming from the Board of Health at the time of this letter, so I have done some research.
Click here to continue reading ...
It was shown at the meeting that we currently have approximately 30 drug addicts using needles here in Holyoke with illness, and it was shown that male to male sex with multiple partners is responsible for 40 percent of new cases of AIDS. So, in the interest of public health do we spend $150,000 of taxpayer money for a needle exchange, or spend money to continue to educate people to reduce all high risk behaviors to lower the burden of illness and death for many more?

Meanwhile people who continue with their drug use (the root cause of the problem) will continue to seek money to fund their habit. They often endanger others in the commission of crimes. They will also often die from drug abuse.

Speakers at the Board of Health meeting made assumptions about the success of the needle exchange programs reducing Hepatitis C and AIDS. Scientific studies have shown these assumptions do not hold true. See the Dr. Lucy Sullivan, 1997 study that states "there is no sign of an impact on the rate of decline (of HIV incidence rates) with the introduction of needle distribution in 1992." Also see the Vancouver study by Strathdee, 1997 showing an increase in HIV among drug addicts using needles. Then there is the Montreal study Bruneau J et al, 1995, showing that drug users participating in the needle exchange program were twice as likely to become infected with HIV as those who did not participate.

To those at the meeting who heckled, booed, and chastised speakers who opposed your views or dared to ask questions, such bullying is unacceptable behavior. It dishonors our democratic process as it discourages freedom of speech and public debate. Such actions should not be condoned by city leaders.

Linda Vacon
City Councilor and Candidate for State Representative
Finished reading

Needle exchange, an outdated, failed program

Letter to the Editor by Linda Vacon, July 18, 2012

A needle exchange program was approved by the Mayor shortly after City Council meetings ended for the summer. This action is contrary to the campaign rhetoric by our Mayor who promised transparency in our government. The Board of Health appointed by the Mayor voted unanimously to approve this. Is anyone surprised by that?
Click here to continue reading ...
This needle exchange program was clearly voted down by our citizens by a significant margin.

A news article stated that the last needle exchange program was approved around 1996. Perhaps that is because this program is outdated and has failed to accomplish the goal of reducing drug addiction. Now it is recast as a program to reduce AIDS and Hepatitis C for approximately 100 city residents, if we are to accept the stated statistics.

While it is a commendable goal to reduce illness, the scourge of drug addiction with its collateral damage from robbery, assault, and deaths, as drug addicted individuals seek any and all avenues to satisfy their drug cravings, is unaffected by this program.

What happened to the image of Holyoke and the marketing for businesses downtown? Who will be the first to open their new business next to the needle exchange? This is hardly the image we need to renew our city.

There is already a needle exchange in Northampton. For those who are drug addicted, syringes are readily available. Let’s not enable the very behaviors that take the majority of time and effort by our dedicated police force.

Linda Vacon, City Councilor Ward 5
Finished reading
As your Ward 5 City Councilor, I will continue to represent you:
By hearing concerns and ideas from residents.
By serving on committees to make things happen.
By making informed decisions.
By keeping you informed on issues and decisions that affect you.
Getting to know Linda:
Professional Profile   Contact Linda   Support Linda

Please feel free to contact me by phone 210-6077 (cell) 533-6498 (home) or use the Contact form with any questions you may have.
Thank you, Linda

4 important local issues, my perspective:

..... Click here to continue reading

First: Our local government needs to be affordable, efficient and effective for the residents. Homeowners and small businesses cannot continue to pay more and more, so the size of our local government must fall in line with the available revenues. Rather than increase taxes even more, we need to provide the essential government services, which include police, fire and public works. Other programs need to be evaluated for affordability and value to the taxpayers.

Second: Our City Council is established to represent our city. When Holyoke had 60,000 residents, the fifteen-member Council was large, even then. Now with the population less than 40,000, the size of the Council is disproportionately high.

Third: I favor the establishment of a City Charter review committee. It is a healthy process for us to re-evaluate our current government structure to see if we can better serve our residents. Many believe that the current model results in a high level of in-fighting between factions on the Council and frequent power struggles with the Mayor. Many wonder if the interests of the residents are well served. I am open to hearing new ideas, have set forth some thoughts on the matter in another section of this web site and look forward to input, discussion and vigorous debate on this topic.

Fourth: I will not promise my vote on a matter before I have listened to constituents, considered input from concerned citizens, and become well informed on the subject. When I do decide on a matter, I will share the reasons for my decisions. While it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time, it is possible to conduct public business in a manner that is open, responsive and has integrity.

I look forward to the opportunity to serve you.

Sincerely,
Linda Vacon

Finished reading, close document

More views on Local Issues

Residential & Commercial Property Tax Issue
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