Monday, October 6, 2008

A billion here and a billion there...

Joint Meeting Town Hall 6:30-ish
So State Senator Stan Rosenberg was his usual articulate well-dressed self, but he was somber—and I do mean somber. Even if Question 1 fails to eviscerate 40% of the state’s revenues he said things are still going to be dire.

When 'His Lordship' Gerry Weiss made a brief introduction and joked about his entertaining /humorous presentation coming up, Stan responded their was nothing funny about the position we are in.

After his presentation he took questions from twenty committee folks sitting in front of him as well as the audience seated behind him. I of course asked Stan about the local lodging tax and how a committee he chaired suggested Umass start paying it (six years ago they projected it would generate $70,000 annually to the town.)

I also mentioned the level playing field argument that every other hotel/motel in town pays it, including The Lord Jeff Inn owned by tax-exempt Amherst College, so why should the Campus Center Hotel have an unfair advantage.

Stan said the University does not like to be put on a slippery slope of having its tax-exempt protective status pierced, but the issue does come up every few years and most certainly would again.

Well let’s hope it is before the Grand Reopening of the Campus Center Hotel after the $10 million renovation.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Larry, it is municipal soverignty. It is the same reason why the Amherst LSRE doesn't have to pay meals tax TO HADLEY for the stuff that they sell at the July 4th pre-fireworks carnival which is technically located in Hadley.

The solution, of course, would be to carve a Greater-UMass out of Amherst/Hadley and make it a new town and to have all taxes due within paid to UMass qua municipality.

You don't see Pelham trying to get revenue from the MDC/MWRA for the half of that town that is under the Quabbin, do you?

Enough said?

Ed

LarryK4 said...

Well the fish in the Quabbin don't impact Pelham $ervices the way, ahem, students do.

Anonymous said...

I believe if you look at the budget of MDC and MWRA you will find a item for property taxes. Like the other water and sewer companies in the State they are required to pay property tax to the municipality their facilities are on. The only exception is that most of the systems only pay PILOT in their home Town.

Amherst water and sewer companies for example pay property tax to Hadley, Leverett, Pelham and Shutesbury.

Note- I said property tax not some version of PILOT set by the State, but property tax set by the municipality based on land and improvements value.

Thinking about UMass being a municipality itself is actually an interesting concept. The theory of government, specifically local government, is that it is run by the people, the residents. Who would be elgibile to hold office in the Town of UMass? So we would have a Chancellor trying to accomplish the goals of the university, the sole business in Town. So the appointed Chancellor would be like a City Manager or Town Manager. But these positions are usually apointted by the elected officials of the Town. Most Towns require that the local officials be legal residents. So who would make up the residents? Undergraduates living on campus, graduate students in UMass housing, the few resident advisors living on campus and the Chancellor.

This setup has endless twists and turns of the tradition american form of local government. The entire parking system on campus would change. Residents would get better choices for parking. Faculity and staff, the workers of the Town would end up in the outter lots or would become the cronic meter feeders in Town UMass.

The financial support system would a bit different. The Town would own all the property so there would be no one to pay property taxes. Vehicle excise tax would be an important issue for the University because they would get the money. Now they don't care.

This could be a truly revolutionary form of government for the US.

Anonymous said...

First, as to the parking, name one business that reserves the best parking for its employees. Walmart? Big Y? Hampshire Mall? I don't think so...

And you wanna go down the road of residential preference for parking, well wouldn't it be ironic for those who reside on campus to give you a dose of your own medicine an tell YOU to "take the bus..."

Second, who says that there wouldn't be private property within the line of UMass? This exists today with private homeowners on state and National Park land.

And third, what, exactly, is wrong with the people who live in a municipality running it? Remember I am not talking just about the land that UMass actually owns, but all of the adjacent neighborhoods where folk want UMass to govern because there are large numbers of students living there....

Whatever you get, including direct Chancellor fiat, would be worse than the Amherst Select Board?

Fourth, if you want to argue separate municipal budgets, if you want to argue that UMass is responsible for compensating Amherst for providing municipal services to inhabitants of Amherst (who also attend UMass) than the only way you can logically do it is to carve the land upon which they reside out from under the authority of Amherst.

As to the inherent undemocratic nature of it, I argue it already exists. Other than Barbara O'Connor and the UMPD, can you name one other police chief with primary law enforcement jurisdiction over an area where the residents thereof do not have direct democratic imput into her hire/tenure?

The Amherst Town Mangler may consider himself able to ignore Selectboardspersons with impunity but he does have to get his contract renewed eventually. There is some accountablity.

The residents of UMass have none.
And would be no worse off if UMass was its own municipality as opposed to the quasi one it is now.

Ed

Anonymous said...

The residents of UMass have none. And would be no worse off if UMass was its own municipality as opposed to the quasi one it is now. - ED

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Anonymous said...

I gotta ask:

A: are you really typing all those "UMass" lines?

B: how cheap do you type for? Can I hire you type a thesis?

ED

Anonymous said...

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