Monday, November 16, 2009

When the State breaks trust


When Town Manager Larry Shaffer signed a 5-year Strategic Agreement with Umass for roughly $100,000 more than they had been paying Amherst for fire/ambulance protection the year before, he allowed them to take credit for the $100,000 Payment in lieu of Taxes Amherst receives from a separate account out of Boston.

Now, however, the Governor is talking about cutting that amount by $65,000. If so can we bill Umass directly--or take it out of the Town Manager’s pay?

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Cherry Hill, only two-and-a-half miles away...

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, the state charges $1,200 annually for those signs and there's another one in N Amherst center.

But mysteriously that cost never shows up on the yearly expenditure balance sheet of the golf business (of course, neither does Clubhouse or liability insurance or employee benefits).

Just another example of town officials using hidden slush funds to feed pet projects.

Anonymous said...

'Just another example of town officials using hidden slush funds to feed pet projects."


That never happens.

LarryK4 said...

Well the new School Super managed to come up with $4,999 pretty quick for his former Miami-Dade County Public Schools Supervisor to come in as a consultant and write a report on the venerable Amherst schools ($I more and it would have had to go out to bid).

Anonymous said...

The signs are on Town ways and do not require a fee to the state.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure the Gov. will honor any agreement made it writing. It was made in writing wasn't it?

I think the towns in the drivers seat hear. They can always decide to stop providing services as a consequence for for UMass breaking its agreement.

Anonymous said...

LS negotiated the agreement; I think the town took the risk. Unless he was an able enough negotiator to have included language to ensure that the payments could be revisited should that other funds not be forthcoming.


maybe the BS tree fee will make up the difference....

Anonymous said...

"The signs are on Town ways and do not require a fee to the state."

Of course they don't, but that doesn't stop the blogger and his cohorts from living in a bizzaro fantasyland of conspiracies.

Ed said...

"The signs are on Town ways and do not require a fee to the state."

Of course they don't, but that doesn't stop the blogger and his cohorts from living in a bizzaro fantasyland of conspiracies.


I think you will find that the road in question is the OLD State Route 116 and thus still considered a state highway and thus the town has to pay for a sign on town-owned land.

Don't worry, UMass has to do the same all the time. Larry wanted UMass to pay for sewer discharge that flowed across UM-owned land that was in HADLEY!

Ed said...

Larry, I have a very simple solution - a "Townie User Fee" -- if your name shows up on the list of Amherst Voters and you do anything at UMass - take a class, work, use the library - literally ANYTHING, you get hit with a $500 "user fee."

And the university then gives 100% of this "Townie User Fee" to the town.

A very fair and equitable solution - and if the town wants more money, we just increase the fee...

You folks simply have to understand two things - first the days of the university subsidizing the local community are OVER, and second, the university now considers the "local community" to be Holyoke & Springfield, not Amherst.

Sorry, you killed the goose laying the golden eggs....

Anonymous said...

Ed- I believe all students at the university pay user fees. In fact I belive they are actually higher than the tuition. Secondly the University is in the town of Amherst and should pay for services rendered(user fees). Maybe the university should consider itself a town and succed from Amherst and either supply it's own services or pay another town(Hadley, Sunderland,etc) for it's external needs. Free lunches end at the High School and even they must show need.

Ed said...

First, you misunderstand. I am saying an ADDITIONAL townie-only fee. Which also applies to employees who live in Amherst.

Second, UMass *IS* a town - you got the law changed a few years back so that the UMPD could provide mutual aid and UM is now legally a town.

Play hardball on the fees and the university will stop the sweetheart deal with the AFD - you gotta face it, 100% of fee paid by virtually 100% of the runs to campus, versus what other insurance companies pay, and how many of the folks living in AHA properties pay anything?

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ed for explaining all this to me. So does Umass have it's own zipcode and I assume the "town hall" is Whitmore? But they don't have elected officials. So can you explain to me the exact relationship of Umass to the Town of Amherst, both financialy and in term of services. I need to be better informed and I assume this is your job, so who better. thank,steve

Ed said...

So does Umass have it's own zipcode

Yes. 01003 Also its own four phone exchanges (545, 546, 577 and one more.)

Pelham, on the other hand, shared 01002 with Amherst.

and I assume the "town hall" is Whitmore?
To the same extent that Amherst muni govt is just in that town hall.

But they don't have elected officials.

Neither does the Quabbin. That includes half of Pelham (probably more) and I don't see Pelham trying to get a fee from the state...

There is a real issue with the UMPD not being democratically controlled by those whom they protect (those who live on campus) but still, it IS a government and the legislature, in its infinite wisdom, so defined it.

So can you explain to me the exact relationship of Umass to the Town of Amherst, both financialy and in term of services

UMass is a state reservation, not unlike Quabbin, and in a Commonwealth it means that Amherst has no authority. Amherst vends water and Ambulance and makes a tidy profit on both, thus subsidizing the cost to the town. Amherst uses resources on UM land, notably the UM water towers and the UM land-sewer plant.

I could see UM taking both by emminent domain, running a gravity-fed line straight to Quabbin, right up Main street to the Quabbin, doing it with stimulus money and disruption to the town be damned. And then take the sewer plant by emmenint domain and giving the town the choice of either paying UM to dispose of townie sewerage or just plugging the line and letting it flood downtown.

Think the NIMBY crowd would have a fun time with the site for the new water towers and the new sewer plant?

Ed said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thanks Ed for explaining things. But why does UM as a state reservation have any rights over the town of Amherst and why pit one against the other? Why would Amherst want to butt heads against say Hadley or Belchertown? Why can't we just "all get along"?