Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A (tax-exempt) house with a view

So in addition to a $375,000 annual salary and company car Dr. Holub, the new Umass Chancellor, gets to live in this fine house with what he described as having a great view. Indeed.

Chancellor Holub also told the 400 folks attending the Community Breakfast that his wife could not attend because she was busy enrolling their two young daughters into the fine Amherst school system.

This year Amherst taxpayers will expend $14,410 per child to finance the public schools. Dr. Holub’s two children will be joining the estimated (by our Finance Committee) 50-60 other children coming from Umass tax-exempt housing (probably not nearly as nice as the Chancellor’s House), or an impact of almost $1 million dollars.

Amherst taxpayers also fund ($4.8 million) the busiest Fire/EMT department in the state with the Fire Chief estimating Umass accounts for about one-quarter of the their calls, or an impact just over $1 million dollars.

Hey, a million here and a million there—pretty soon you’re talking real money.

Even though Westover Air Force Reserve Base in Chicopee is one of the largest employers in that region (with all those economic spin off benefits) they recently agreed to a $1 million payment-in-lieu-of-taxes to the host city.



Anonymous said...

This is a rookie question, but is there a known dollar amount of money that comes out of Umass directly to the Town of Amherst?

Anonymous said...

Larry --

Did it ever occur to you that having Holub's children attending the Amherst schools is an HONOR to Amherst, that they are good enough for the Chancellor to trust his children with?

Look at it this way, if he was to send his kids to, say, the Academy at Charlemont or Deerfield Academy wouldn't that be a slap in the face?

And furthermore, how much in propert taxes does the Amherst Housing Authority pay? Care to venture how many kids come out of AHA owned property? (probaby 90).

So you can't have it both ways -- North Village is low income housing and Watson's Farms is low income housing and how exactly is there a difference between the children sent to the Amherst schools?

Public schools once were seen as a public good - keep the little perps off the street and out of trouble if nothing else.

And how on earth do you spend $14K per student? This is not your incidental cost, btw -- but still, what are you doing, gold plating the textbooks?

Oh and as to Chicopee, methinks that it is in part because the servicemen are (unlike students) NOT citizens of Chicopee.


Anonymous said...

Ryan - half of every speeding ticket written by the UMASS police goes directly to the town of Amherst. It is in the annual report.


LarryK4 said...

Hey Ryan,
Well the five year "strategic agreement" is supposed to be worth $420-K but they took credit for 100-K the state sends us anyway for PILOT and we gave them back $40-K in free effluent (that may soon double in value when the Power Plant fires up and the new Science Building).

And they purchased "frat row" taking it off the tax rolls last year or another $31-K

Amherst College this Fiscal Year simply gave us $120-K with no strings attached (and no smoke and mirrors)

Anonymous said...

Larry --

What does UMass have in terms of LAND and what does Amherst College have in terms of LAND?

How much of this is developable land -- if the college was bulldozed flat, how much could the Acme Wiget Factory build on?

What is not being said is how much land Amherst College owns and how truly valuable it is.

And as to those fraternites taken off the tax rolls -- it was THE TOWN that kept demanding that UMass "do something" about the frats, that the frats were bad, that they had to go.

So you got what you wanted. And now you complain about it. Well sometimes when you ask for something, you actually get it.


Anonymous said...

Amherst's excessive K-12 budget!

To make it simple, lets say that a high school is twice as expensive as first grade. There are sports (and sports fields and busses for away games), there are shops, there are lab sciences, there are bigger libraries & computer labs, there are guidence folk, there are all kinds of things that get real expensive and that aren't in first grade.

So if Amherst is $14K overall, ARHS itself is probably $20K per student. And lets see what the rest of the state pays:

Boston Magazine - left leaning and advocate of overrides - has a list:

Now remember that things cost more in Eastern Massachusetts -- housing is twice as expensive (and hence teacher pay is higher), insurance is more, even contractors to plow the parking lots cost more.

So when Amherst schools cost more than the expensive Boston suburbs, why is anyone blaming UMass for this? Seems to me that the $14K cost for K-12 in Amherst is more of an AMHERST problem....


Anonymous said...

>>>$40-K in free effluent...

Larry, something is only worth what one is willing to pay for it.

Unless YOU (or someone else) is willing to buy this smelly sewer effluent (that smells like....), exactly what will Amherst *do* with it?

Remember too where the sewer plant is located (surrounded by UMass land for about a mile in all directions).

What exactly would you do if UMass decided to play hardball and tell you that not only did UM not want the effluent but that you no longer could discharge it on/across UM-owned land? How much would it cost Amherst to pump it uphill and then discharge it into, say a brook in South Amherst?

Come to think of it, does Amherst even have any water towers of its own? UMass has two water towers which give pressure to the Amherst system (and I wonder if the meters flow both ways, or only in) but where is Amherst's tower?

Imagine if UMass and the state played hardball and simply split off the municipal systems. UMass gets the North Fire Station, both water towers and the sewer plant -- the legislature could do this and decree that Amherst be paid exactly $1 for each (as it did with the town halls of Greenwich, Etna, Dana & Prescott (and SCOTUS upheld this).

The state then runs a pipeline from Ware (without regard to Amherst's interests/desires as the MWRA is known to do) making a mess of town, cutting lots of trees, all of that.

Amherst then has two major NIMBY issues -- where to put the town's sewer plant and were to put the town's water tower(s). You likely would need 2/3 of the latter and also would need a new North fire station, which you had before the current one was built.

You got rid of the frats. Be careful what you are asking for as you might actually get it....


LarryK4 said...

Yes, Ed Umass is #2 behind Amherst College for property owned in Amherst, but they also host about 26,500 students as opposed to Amherst College’s 1,650. BIG difference.

So if you factor that into the idiotic ‘Strategic Agreement,” Umass gave us about $15 per student while Amherst College just gave us about $75 per student. And while they are indeed the largest landholder in town they also pay taxes on such things like ‘The Amherst Golf Course’, The Lord Jeffrey Inn’, and all the many, many quaint old homes they own and lease to their professors.

Thus they are the #1 taxpayer in town (although I agree they could do more.)

Anonymous said...

Larry -

Taking just the kids:
Most (possibly all, I haven't seen this year's stats) of the children in North Village are minorities. There are many communities that PAY to have minority students bussed into their schools, the so-called METCO program comes to mind.

Having the Chancellor's kids in the town schools is a town administrator's dream. You have the schools top admin personally interested in your schools on a daily basis - think about this.

One can get into "we deserve" debates that aren't that far from a welfare mother demanding handouts (and these ARE handouts) but think about what you already are getting.

Calculate out all the low income UMass students and recalculate your cherry sheet. Then remember how you would have about 400 less Sect 8 vouchers and everything else.

Remember one other thing: Amherst College is not a subdivision of the Commonwealth. Technically, UMass and Amherst are EQUALS, both children of Commonwealth, existing under its authority, subject to its fiat.

LarryK4 said...

Yes Ed any product is worth what somebody is willing to pay for it. Smelly effluent in some cases replaces a product (potable water) just fine.

So if you are going to water your lawn, golf course or run chiller units in a building’s HVAC system, why pay $6.50 per 100 cubic feet when you could get if for 50 cents per 100 cubic feet?

Of course, now Umass is charged zero per 100 cubic feet. They have a few smart folks on staff and I’m sure they will come up with all sorts of way of replacing expensive potable water with free smelly effluent.

Anonymous said...

larry this is about a different issue, the article in today's gazette, pg B4 reagrding our school committee. both anderson and sanderson are bigots, immature and childish. they both sjhould be thrown off and sent back to kindergarden. the one thing they agree on is not to have a white male run there re-treat. that is discrimination and makes the assumption that all white males have privilege.
what's your thought and your readers?

Anonymous said...

First calling someone a bigot has been abused, better have very very good examples of their bigotry. Don't want to bring a knife to a gun fight if you know what I mean. i did not read the story in the gazette but your opening volley of BIGOT got my attention.

-Ryan Willey

LarryK4 said...

I think a "retreat" is a gross violation of the Open Meeting Law.

If they do have it--with whatever race, creed, color or planetary origin the consultant is--I will attend to do live blogging (with photos)

neil said...

both anderson and sanderson are bigots, immature and childish.
- anonymous

You are basing your jugdment on what observations? newspaper article? direct observation? general opinion? Care to share and be particular?

O'Reilly said...

ps. i don't have the paper. i need details, a link to the article

LarryK4 said...

here's the link

Anonymous said...


I so wish I had seen this earlier today. I was speaking with the State Commissioner of Education and would have included this in the conversation. (Not that it isn't getting forwarded...

> Anderson .... said she will not
> attend a retreat if it is run
> by a white, male

I really hope that the ARHS doesn't try to fire any white males in the near future, for cause or not, as all they have to do is bring this quote in as evidence.

Also, it *is* possible for the state to remove school board members. I was told how it was done this afternoon.


Anonymous said...

Would the Mark's Meadow Commonwealth Charter School make things better?

UMass - under the "university partnership" clause of the law could take Mark's Meadow into a charter school and hence would receive the full $14K for each "UMass" child that was in it.

Amherst would, of course, have $14K deducted from its state aid to education for every kid that no longer was attending Amherst schools.

So you save say $5000-$7000 but loose a full $14,000 -- times the sixty or so you cited and that becomes some very real money....

O'Reilly said...

Wow, reading Mary Carey's reporting, the school board seems like a regular Peyton Place.

Does the school board have the authority to secure the data-driven metrics Sanderson has requested? If so, then DO IT, Why wait? It's only our childrens' education that is at stake.

This group needs to learn how it can work together. That is an internal issue and not a policy issue.

There is no reason a meeting to work this out must be done in public. In fact, public scrutiny would likely render the effort a failure.

When there is discord and dissatisfaction on a board (people addressing other people in ways that are counterproductive), affects progress, and it can also be traced back to the skills of the chair, so maybe there's an opportunity there to employ more effective guidance from the chair.

None of the specific objections raised in the article are insurmountable. Take them into account and get this thing off the dime.

O'Reilly said...

> Anderson .... said she will not
> attend a retreat if it is run
> by a white, male

This may indicate that some of the conflict on the school board is of a nature that a professional facilitator who has familiarity with racial factors could be productive while a professional facilitator without that training/insight/understanding would be of no use.

Anonymous said...

But, ORiley, some things simply can't be negotiated.

Lets say that the rednecks of Shutesbury decided to elect a hooded Klansman to the board.

Would people be willing to negotiate with him over how many racial insults he used per meeting and the number of Nazi salutes he gave? (I don't know if the Klan even gives Nazi salutes, nor do I care, I am trying to make a point here.)

Would there be issues with spending taxpayer dollars to hire a Klan-R-Us guy to come give a retreat, would there be a Title VI issue if the RFP stated that only white males could apply for the job?

Or would the good people tell the hood-wearing school board member to go f*** himself and stand up for what is right?

So too here: it is ILLEGAL to say that you won't hire someone because of his race, regardless of what race that is.

And everyone who believes in nondiscrimination, equal opportunity and even "social justice" needs to stand up and say that.

It is WRONG to be a racist, of any stripe. And I, for one, will not waive that principle for harmony or good feelings. Wanna be a bigot, I will call you on it...

Ed Cutting

O'Reilly said...

One thing you got going for you Ed is moral clarity.

Anonymous said...

Regarding your comment that it was an honor to have the new chancellor's children attend Amherst public schools, I was affronted. Why are you assuming that either the chancellor or his children are any better than any of us or our children? Are you less honored when your new neighbor down the road may elect to send their children to the public school? Many people in the community could send their children to other schools yet continue to support our public schools. While I am pleased to hear that our chancellor's family will be joining our public school community, I do not feel "honored." I do think it will be a good thing for our schools to have someone in power involved in our schools on a daily basis, but I could say the same thing about the children of our School Committee members, Town Meeting Members, or President Marx.
In my mind, where to send your children is a family decision and parents should make the best decision about schools based on the child's need. If a parent chooses to send their child to the Common School, it is not necessarily a vote of no confidence in our public schools but perhaps just an indication that the Common School best serves that individual child's needs.
But Larry's main point (I think), is that all of the children living on UMass campus are going to our tax-supported public school without paying those same taxes. Which is a fact, and one that does require some scrutiny in these times of budgetary crisis.
--Amherst Public School Parent

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, that was my main point.

If Umass wants to TRY to turn Mark's Meadow into a Charter School feel free. I served as a Founder for Pioneer Valley Chinese Charter Immersion school and know how exceedingly high the state sets the bar for granting a Charter.

And keep in mind Mark's Meadow is beyond its useful lifespan--and the state does NOT reimburse Charter Schools for facilities (either renovation or new purchase)

Anonymous said...

My three points - and I don't understand why they aren't understandable:

First, there is a very big difference between average cost and incremental cost. Incremental cost is how much more it actually costs you (and usually serves to lower average cost).

For example, there are costs to be a farmer growing corn - most of the costs (tractor, etc) are fixed. Now if the farmer decides to plant an extra two rows of corn one spring, his cost to do so is not his average cost per row but the actual cost of an extra bag of seed and a few gallons of gas.

Thus even if Amherst spends an average of $14K per student (state average, mostly in a much more expensive housing market, is only $10K) it does not mean that there is an actual $28K cost incurred with two additional children.

Like the farmer, the school infrastructure already exists. Take the Amherst Athletic Club - the actual cost of providing a full range of services to a new member, unless absolutely everything is running at exactly 100% of capacity, isn't going to be total cost divided by existing memberships....

Second, there is a very big difference between price and cost. John Silbur used to argue that BU was less expensive (in terms of cost) than UMass Amherst -- and he was right. The "price" may be $14K (which is, incidentally, about what UM tuition and non-dorm fees are now) but the actual cost to Amherst homeowners is far FAR less.

The state provides significant education funding (if they didn't, why would loosing it for charter schools be an issue?). So what you actually have to do is go into the nuances of the ARSD budget and find out exactly what is town-generated revenue.

Even taking the figure voted at town meeting won't work because there are state/federal monies coming in that offset that.

Third, there is the "UMass kids make us destitute" arguement. The exact opposite is true! Federal and state funding schemes attempt to give poor communities more money than rich ones -- Amherst with a high property valuation would get very little were it not for the very poor UMass student parents who skew the average down.

(The exact same sort of thing is happening out in the hilltowns were the estates of people like Bill Cosby are skewing the average property value way up and there is a push to look at median rather than mean.)

BECAUSE Amherst has a median income of something like $18K and a median household income of $24K -- remember median is half above/half below and the large number of UM students below balance out all the folk who are WAY above -- because these are the figures used to calculate what Amherst gets, Amherst gets a whole lot more than it "deserves."

So in calculating the "cost" of educating those 60 children, you not only need to go with the incremental (as opposed to average) cost but the NET incremental cost. What would be the cost to the town without all the money coming in from outside?

Look at it this way: Say the Dept of Homeland Security wanted to have healthy police officers. Say there was a whole bunch of money that went to athletic clubs based on the number of cops who belonged. Could the AAC actually make money giving totally free memberships to cops? -- in such circumstances absolutely.

Well the state and feds have said that they want poor children educated. Title this, title that, there is all kinds of money directed at educating poor kids - the rationale is that rich towns don't need it. (With million-dollar homes, Amherst is RICH...) And the more poor people and the more poor children of poor parents (I think single parenthood is factored in too), the more $$$$$ you get...

Take those 60 kids (and 12,000 students with little/no income) out of the calculations and YOU PAY MORE IN LOCAL TAX DOLLARS. Cost, not price, goes up.

(This all aside of the very real social justice question of how, exactly, the children of single mothers attending UMass are different from the children of single mothers not attending UMass....)

Third, having the UM Chancellor's kids in your schools *is* unique, it isn't like having Ellen Story's son or President Marx's kids or anyone else's. The UM Chancellor speaks to Boston about public education in a way that no one else west of Shrewsbury does and this is both unique and priceless.

Furthermore, isn't it really nice to have a Chancellor with three young children? All the issues (legitimate) about late nite noise and such is far more relevant when his kids get woken up too.

In summary - you really can't just go take an average *gross* price figure and claim that it is the same as net price. And even if it were, there are times when it is worth it.

Back to the AAC, if Kurt Schilling was looking for a club to join, wouldn't the AAC profit (publicity, etc) from giving him a free membership and eating that cost?


O'Reilly said...

Ed seems perfectly happy taking the conversation in whatever direction he thinks injustice may exist, whether its the same direction as the topic or not even tangentially connected... battling injustice one scenario at a time.

Anonymous said...

regarding the school committee article and bigot comment: Only Anderson said no to the white male leading it. Sanderson just said she didn't think a retreat was a good idea. Interesting that it is the one who always brings up race...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
O'Reilly said...

"Member Kathleen Anderson, meanwhile, often reminds committee members about the need for awareness that white people have the privilege of belonging to the dominant culture, which people of color do not."

It's hard to tell how this observation, which may well be true, affects the way the School Board operates now, and how it needs to operate to be effective.

"Anderson ... said she will not attend a retreat if it is run by a white, male consultant with no proof other than his own self-assessment that he is aware of the role white privilege plays in society, and if the consultant has no expertise in "cross-cultural mediation."

Anderson apparently thinks some of the obstacles the School Board has are directly related to "cross-cultural" obstacles.

"I'm sorry, but I can't accept a white male's self-assessment of his competency in this regard," Anderson said. "I've heard too many self-assessed people who don't have a clue."
Kathleen Anderson

Then, she calls any white mediator who says he has this "cross-cultural" mediator experience untrustworthy. That does seem a little prejudicial. But remember the context is that she doesn't want a retreat.

If you disagree with her, are you insensitive to the issues of "cross-cultural" people or are you calling her on her race baiting?

I found this photo at the Bulletin:

Anonymous said...

> I found this photo at
> the Bulletin

What -- no MEN present?

How about dominant genders in education and cross-gender communication????

Anonymous said...

Back from the candidate's forum in the Amherst Bulletin:

Anderson said that being female and an ethnic minority provides her with a perspective that some of her potential colleagues don't have.

"I want to lend that perspective from the margins to a board that supports all students," she said.

Anderson feels that her experience and background as an artist allow her to bring a creative spirit to her role on the committee, if elected.

"To use creative energy to look at existing situations and fashion a system that honors all students," she said. "Let's not just say that, but let's really do that

Anonymous said...

This is off topic but important:

From UMPD:

On September 4, 2008 the University of Massachusetts Police Department Amherst issued a Crime Alert regarding a reported unarmed robbery on campus. Further investigation has revealed this crime did not occur; the reporting party has retracted the allegation that she had been robbed.