Monday, November 2, 2009

Amherst Town Meeting Fiddles...

Select Board Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe explains the Interstellar Alien Landing Port

But seriously folks, tonight the campaign for a multi-million dollar tax Override began.

The Finance Committee gave a verbal report that parroted the Assistant Town Manager's presentation a few weeks back to the illustrious Select Board projecting a $4 million budget gap next year.

Of course over the next couple hours during routine housekeeping warrant articles we learned the town has stashed in surplus $2.6 million in Free Cash, $2.8 million in a Health Care Trust Fund, $1.3 million in Stabilization, $1.4 million in the Water Fund and the Town Manager announced a $1 million state Community Development Block Grant in each of the next two years.

Yet...the sky is falling. Or maybe it's a UFO.
video

So notice Princess Stephanie trots out that old fallacy that Prop 2.5% does not allow municipalities to keep up with inflation (roughly 3%). She ignores the other part of the law that allows "new growth" to be combined; and the two have always exceeded the simple rate of inflation.

Even our toothless "watchdog" Finance Committee issued an Override Report last year that clearly shows Amherst homeowners have absorbed a 6% average increase in their taxes--or twice the rate of inflation. Welcome to the People's Republic!

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

surplus $2.6 million in Free Cash...

and harry shafter couldn't squeeze 7500 out for all the work the town solicited from 'bach

Anonymous said...

One of the sleaziest towns in the country.


They try to threat-steal money from tax-payers and the most vulnerable town employees... and do what with it?

Reward "administrators" for untoward practices and all manner of bad behavior.

What a fu cking shameful place.


They must be pumping tranquilizers into the water supply because no-one seems to care.

Anonymous said...

"Health Care Trust Fund"

Um, are you suggesting that be used?

LarryK4 said...

Um, maybe...some of it.

There were times not too long ago when the balance was close to zero.

The assessor has a reserve fund in case folks bitch about their assessment, win, and the town has to give them a rebate.

I believe last year we raided that account because it was a tad too high.

Taylor said...

While mandated accounting practices do require a certain amount of money to be maintained in these accounts, these amounts do seem overboard.

Less administrators and managers would be a start? Some of the money saved could go towards staffing the Fire Department which in October did not have the personnel available to staff an ambulance when a 911 call came 15 times. That is right 15 times no one was home when you called 911 for an ambulance in October.

How about we stop spending money on a golf course? How about we stop spending money to make private roads out of public ways? How about we stop wasting money on a leisure services empire and its capital equipment and facilities?

A towns core missions should be Public Safety and Schools. Amherst is not spending enough on public safety and its education money is not being spent properly. Too much on adminstrative costs and not enough on direct education expenses.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, the other scary thing about that clip is the high regard Princess Stephanie has for "recreation" calling it a "high level concept" and that "everything else needs to be reduced in order to support these things." Yikes!

I did a ride along with Amherst PD on Halloween night and with "all hands on deck" PLUS 4 State Police troopers they were barely able to maintain control.

I believe Umass has a staff of over 70 while APD has only 45. And almost ALL of the problems I saw that night seemed to be student related.

Anonymous said...

It's a holiday that only comes once a year.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, but what about any warm weekend in September, October or April and May?

Rick said...

“She ignores the other part of the law that allows "new growth" to be combined; and the two have always exceeded the simple rate of inflation.”

Not really. Here’s the math to calculate 2009 tax rate from 2008 actual:

• Total 2008 Tax Revenue + 2.5% = X
• Tax Revenue from New Growth (new buildings built or improvements to buildings) = Y
• Total Tax Revenue allowed for 2010 = X + Y = Z
• Tax Rate = Z divided by all property values = R
• Your tax = R times your property valuation

If no buildings were built and no improvements made then the increase would be 2.5%. If buildings are built, it’s normal that it would be more than 2.5% as presumably more services are needed as a town gets larger.

Now this is weird (if true):

“Even our toothless "watchdog" Finance Committee issued an Override Report last year that clearly shows Amherst homeowners have absorbed a 6% average increase in their taxes--or twice the rate of inflation.”

By definition, the same old house with no improvements made should have seen its tax rise by 2.5%.

What can mess that up is revaluation. I recall that in the last revaluation, residential went up but commercial went down. Thus simply because of revaluation more tax burden shifted to residential from commercial. But 2.5% to 6% is way more than can be accounted for by that.

LarryK4 said...

Geeze there Rick, are you questioning our toothless Finance Committee?

Rick said...

Ha – yeah guess I am.

BTW: Interstellar Alien Landing Port
I like it. Maybe the aliens can help us out here.

LarryK4 said...

Well I'm sure they are right (SOME things they are good at.)

BTW: I'm a blog, and I live in the People's Republic (five generations now). Gotta have a sense of humor.

Rick said...

Did your property tax bill go up 6% last year? If not, how much did it go up?

Anonymous said...

So what's your longterm plan? Use up spare cash, then what?

LarryK4 said...

Yes Rick I believe they did (but my wife handles that, and she's in China at the moment)

My long-term plan? Learn to live with less. Employee COLA's alone are over $1 million.

Anonymous said...

Random thought -

Is there any precedent for a student tax? I haven't ever heard of such a thing except for a proposal of doing something similar in other communities, most notably Providence, RI which is home to several colleges and tens-of-thousands of college kids.

As much as the students and university's add to Amherst, they also consume an exorbitant amount of resources. Wouldn't this be something to look into?

Anonymous said...

"Employee COLA's alone are over $1 million."


Oh, so you want to take food off the table now as well huh?


You're a swell guy, Larry.

LarryK4 said...

And you would rather lay off a dozen or so teachers in order to get that COLA

What does that make you? Besides greedy.

Anonymous said...

Re: student tax...
I like to think of the new meals tax as the student tax. Those that can afford to are buying food downtown and so are their parents when they visit. I have kids in Amherst schools and in college. I can't afford another fee or tax on her bill.
I am also married to a town employee. It is VERY hard to make ends meet right now with our high taxes, trash and water rates rising, school and lsse sports fees going up, etc. Shaffer has given some a COLA, now the rest are supposed to make do or move?

LarryK4 said...

Assistant Town Manager Nancy Maglione thought of a $100 tax per student (Umass, Amherst and Hampshire College) about 15 years ago and it went nowhere.

Anonymous said...

"And you would rather lay off a dozen or so teachers in order to get that COLA"


Hey Larry, how is your COLA working out for ya?


Sounds to me like you feel a little jealous cause the town turned you down for a job...

It's got nothing to do with laying off "a dozen or so teachers" and you know it...

LarryK4 said...

Actually I have never applied for a job with the town (anybody reading this blog for more than a day can understand why.)

My first amazing memory as a Town Meeting member back in 1991 or so was when the Teachers Union was presented with an ultimatum: either COLA raises for all with 6 or 8 layoffs, or no COLA raises and no layoffs.

Naturally they chose the raises and to Hell with the newer, younger teacher who just entered the system.

Budgets are a "zero sum" game. Get it?

Anonymous said...

"and to Hell with the newer, younger teacher who just entered the system."



Fu cking anti-union, anti-worker to the core...

Just what I thought...


You play the game so well, don't you? Me against the town, me against the town... You are so deeply into this town you're coming out the other side of it, Kelley.

LarryK4 said...

Actually my first "real" job (besides picking cucumbers in Hadley every summer for five years) was as a proud member of the Teamsters Union, loading and unloading packages at UPS.

I still fondly recall those late summer nights when the salty older guys in the big old trucks next to me would bellow: "The only Union bigger than the Teamsters Union is the Soviet Union."

Goes to show how far back that was.

Anonymous said...

"Goes to show how far back that was."


Yeah, and how much you've changed... ESPECIALLY when it's someone else's dinner plate!

"Proud"? Bull sh it.

LarryK4 said...

Well maybe you should give up your internet and put the money into groceries.

Anonymous said...

www.amherstbulletin.com/story/id/152128/

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, that's what I was talking about.