Thursday, November 29, 2007

I owe my soul to...


So late last night Town Meeting, with almost no discussion, reaffirmed that Amherst is indeed a Company Town…with Umass minding the store.

Article #20, advising the Select board to reconsider its 3-2 vote gifting Umass $200,000 in water, was so overwhelming shouted down it would have been useless (although interesting) to call for a recorded Tally Vote.

Why am I surprised? As Finance Committee member Kay Moran observed when they--our supposed watchdogs--voted unanimously to oppose the article “Almost everybody in Town Meeting is connected to Umass” And unfortunately, Town Meeting members are exempt from 'Conflict of Interest' Law.

Mt. Holyoke College (and what have they contributed to South Hadley lately?) professor emeritus Diana Stein, corrected me on the figure I obtained from Answers.com for Umass’s current Endowment: $348,100,000. She told Town Meeting the Amherst flagship was only in the hundred thousand range; I think she meant to say million, but on the floor of town meeting almost nothing ever gets corrected.

Ms. Stein, who claims to be running for Select board but will not announce till January, also pointed out on the Town Meeting listserve earlier in the day that almost all the esteemed institutes of higher education that pay impact fees to their home community are private schools.

So what! Fire protection costs the same for rich or poor, private or public, Republican or Democrat. What matters is call volume--and that is dependent on overall size.

That is why the comparison (and even Ms. Stein deemed it “surprising” that UVM is state funded) with the University of Vermont is so stunning. They are 2.5 times smaller in both land area and student population, but will pay Burlington twice as much as Umass pays Amherst in 2010. For fire protection only, as UVM has it’s own ambulance service that covers the campus and actually provides service to the city.

Since I believe UVM is not overpaying for fire protection, could Larry Shaffer and Umass have underestimated the cost of fire/ambulance service to the campus? Considering the Town Manager is math challenged over the ailing golf course, I’m not surprised.

This year’s Fire/EMS budget is $3.5 million and the emergency dispatch center is another $500,000. I always hear Chief Hoyle use 25% for Umass’s drain on the department, thus making their fair share $1 million--a tad over the $425,000 claimed in the ‘Strategic Agreement’.

His Lordship Select man Weiss told Town Meeting Umass would jettison the overall agreement if they nixed the $38,000 effluent waiver. Wouldn’t you love to play poker with this naive ninny? I pointed out that this represents only 10% of this overly one-sided deal, so Umass would never walk away from it.

And if they did, good riddance. Next time they call 911 tell them the number has been disconnected for non-payment.
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In a message dated 11/28/07 6:55:34 AM, amherstac@yahoo.com writes to Town Meeting Yahoo listserve (110 members):

BOSTON is the KING of PILOT’S (Cambridge the Queen):
Berklee Colllege of Music: $191,304

Boston College: $261,397

Boston University: $4,406,158

Emmerson College: $27,029

New England School of Law: $13,125

Harvard: $1,810,639

Northeastern University: $141,132

Suffolk University: $141,132

Tufts University: $135,582

Wentworth Institute: $35,867

Cambridge:
Harvard: $2.4 million

MIT: $1.5 million

Watertown:
Harvard: $3.8 million

Providence, RI:
Brown University: $2 million

RI School of Design: $792,000

New Haven, Ct.
Yale: $2 million

Ithica, NY
Cornell: $1.1 million

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Wuttisak said...
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