Thursday, January 21, 2010

Bad news Overriders, good news Taxpayers

UPDATE SATURDAY MORNING: "No school district will receive less this year than last year," Patrick said to applause.

6:30 PM

So Governor Deval Patrick has just announced (on Twitter no less) that his state budget this year will have no cuts to Chapter 70 education money thus giving bean counters about $1 million more to the Regional High School and $600,000 more for the Amherst elementary system than previously expected.

And since hardly anybody in this town seems to give a damn about Public Safety or the DPW, the threatened cuts there on the town side when an Override fails (now guaranteed) are not going to generate a slew of support.

Even with the sky is falling rhetoric of Overriders only concerned with the schools, as of today they could only manage 337 signatures on the blank-check Internet Override petition.


kevin said...

I don't know, Larry. I would work with you but Baer and Rick and the 60 other people you regularly lampoon in your blog might now want anything to do with it or you, just as a matter of principle.

As I read the press release, there is across the board relief to communities, not just Chapter 70.

There is always next year.

And what about the 55 people who were fired because the override failed in 2007, this isn't going to help any of them.

I'll wait a week to see what this really means. There's time.

Anonymous said...

January 23, 2009 - For immediate release:

Governor Patrick Protects Education Funding Amid Budget Cuts

Plan will give municipalities revenue tools to offset local aid cuts, manage more efficiently

BOSTON - Friday, January 23, 2009 - Despite the immense financial challenges facing the Commonwealth during this national recession, Governor Patrick today reaffirmed his commitment to cities and towns, announcing that he will protect education funding from cuts and will limit reductions in state aid to cities and towns this year and next.

The Governor told members of the Massachusetts Municipal Association gathered for their annual meeting that he will prevent cuts to so-called Chapter 70 education aid during the next round of mid-year spending reductions he will make next week. Additionally, he will hold Chapter 70 funding for city, town and regional schools at the fiscal year 2009 (FY09) level of $3.984 billion in his fiscal year 2010 (FY10) budget plan he will also release next week. That level, a 6 percent increase over FY08, was an all-time high for Chapter 70.

"Funding Chapter 70 at FY09 levels in the face of our current fiscal crisis is about ensuring that we don't sacrifice tomorrow's promise during today's downturn," said Governor Patrick.

An unprecedented national economic downturn has resulted in a loss of nearly $2 billion in revenues this fiscal year and prompted the Governor to make mid-year spending cuts last October. The Governor was able to hold Local Aid and Chapter 70 education aid harmless by making deeper cuts in other state programs. However, economic conditions have rapidly deteriorated since then, requiring a second round of cuts that will have to include Local Aid.

Recognizing that cities and towns rely heavily on state aid for municipal services like police and fire and to help mitigate the property tax burden, Governor Patrick will limit reductions in unrestricted state aid to communities both in his emergency cuts and in the FY10 budget.

For FY09, the Governor will trim $128 million from Lottery Aid and Additional Assistance, which-along with Chapter 70-make up the biggest portion of Local Aid. Taken together, this FY09 cut represents 2.3% of the total Local Aid budget. For FY10, Governor Patrick's budget will combine Lottery and Additional Assistance Aid into a new category called General Government Aid. Combined with level funding Chapter 70, Local Aid will be cut by $375 million, or 7.1 percent below FY09.

To offset these unavoidable reductions, the Governor will propose a series of tools to help cities and towns generate much needed revenue. A one cent increase in the statewide meals and room occupancy taxes will generate approximately $150 million statewide which would be distributed using the existing lottery formula and will help to offset a portion of the Local Aid cuts. Additionally, the state will use a small amount of existing revenue to ensure that no community receives a total Local Aid cut of more than 10 percent. Taking the new revenues and additional mitigation aid together, the net Local Aid cut is reduced from $375 million to $220 million, or 4.2 percent below FY09.

Anonymous said...

Additionally, to further blunt the impact of Local Aid cuts and give communities the ability to manage their own budgets, the Governor is proposing to give cities and towns the ability to levy an additional 1 percent local options meals and room occupancy taxes. He will also re-file his proposal to eliminate an outdated property tax exemption for telecommunication companies. Taken together, these additional tools could generate up to $200 million statewide.

"This plan gives Massachusetts cities and towns the tools to offset the short-term pain of the economic downturn while also laying a foundation for growth and revenue stability for the better days that are ahead of us," said Governor Patrick. "If we cannot provide direct aid, let's at least untie the hands of local communities to capture the savings and raise the revenue within their reach."

As part of his comprehensive Emergency Recovery Plan, the Governor will file the second Municipal Partnership Act (MPAII) next week. Designed to help cities and towns help themselves by saving money, the bill will require municipal managers and municipal unions to devise health care plans as least as economical as the GIC. In order to help communities meet this cost savings standard, the GIC entry requirement will be reduced to 50% union approval. Failure to meet or exceed the GIC standard within a certain period of time will result in reductions in local aid payments.

Additional MPAII cost-savings proposals include responsibly extending pension schedules, moving retirees to Medicare coverage and a series of initiatives to encourage and facilitate regionalization of municipal services and other reforms around procurement and advertising.

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

Asking an average citizen to support an override right now is like asking them if they would like their teeth drilled without novocaine.

High unemployment and the folks who are employed are having their salaries frozen, yes this is the perfect time to ask for support of an override.

I say it's time to support what our tax dollars should, core necessities.

-Ryan Willey

Anonymous said...

Friends, Neighbors, Countrymen, and especially Gazette subscribers:

Take a look at today's Daily Hampshire Gazette (1/22/10), 2008 & 2009 New England Newspaper of the Year.

Now count up the total column space devoted to Amherst matters of any kind outside of the Sports Page.

I see one car crash.

We're getting hosed on the coverage.

What's interesting is the response from my one acquaintance at the Gazette/Bulletin is to be insulted, claim that I'm not being "constructive", and assert that "we have to choose our battles." On the other hand, my bitching on this topic pays them the ultimate compliment: a fully engaged daily newspaper is indispensable to this Town, and we suffer without it.

So my love for them is unrequited. And they continue to treat Amherst with implicit disdain.

I must confess my own sins to this extent: I didn't appreciate Mary Carey enough when she was working for us.

Rich Morse

Mary E.Carey said...

Wow, thanks, Rich! I've always been impressed by your commentary, level of participation in town and the fact you do it all while working a full-time job (as far as I know).

Anonymous said...

Well, if firemen are not supporting the over ride, I will have to think about not supporting it. My wife had me convinced it was a good idea, bc it would mean about $100 extra per year, but we have kids in the schools. I think there may be more support this time than last time around, but we shall see.

Anonymous said...


To quote Joni:

You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.

We miss your attempts to make sense of it all.

Rich Morse

Anonymous said...

FYI Larry,

Its the FY11 budget that the override addresses. Where has Patrick outlined projected chp 70 funds for FY11?

Anonymous said...

What part of "No Mas" do people not understand????

Anonymous said...

"Now it's time for employee unions to step up and ease the financial crunch while saving some of their members' jobs. The police union has already agreed to give up its negotiated raises in exchange for no cuts in supplementary pay for educational achievement. The public works union has declined to give up its raises.

We continue to believe that some kind of grand compromise involving sacrifice from all is the solution that has the best chance of preserving Amherst's quality of life and moderating tax increases while avoiding divisiveness. We think our elected leaders are in the best position to make such a compromise happen."


Bring these fascists




Anonymous said...

Let's not belabor the obvious by pointing out that it's a bad time for an override.

We all know that.

But let's take the premise of Ryan Willey's post and look at it for a moment. If you just look at core necessities and forget about the extra stuff that certain TM members say "makes us who we are as a community", if you just look at the stuff that every Podunk town has to do, the numbers STILL don't add up. Including with public safety, and the ability of public safety to respond in emergencies. It's all there in the Town Manager's presentation of his budget, archived, I expect, on the ACTV website.

I agree that there are ongoing problems with accountability to the voters and taxpayers in Amherst, but I just don't think that we can wait until the next override vote, say, in 2012 or 2013.

Rich Morse

kevin said...

Larry, the date on that press release is January 23, 2009. That was last year, dude.

LarryK4 said...

Yeah Kevin, you gotta watch those Anons as they will post anything (even a year old press release).

But the Gov made a state of the state speech last night and a few hours before that tweeted on his twitter account that this coming year he, like last year, would not cut Ch. 70 Education funds.

So the sky is no longer falling.

Ry Willey said...

Mr. Morse with all due respect. The message I am hearing from the people around me is the town should start in earnest to be more fiscally responsible with our money. You can only squeeze so much juice from an orange.

The town has proven time and time again to be poor stewards of our money and I believe it is within our right to ask them to improve.
People are struggling and it will be hard to pass this override unless they show improvement.

-Ryan Willey

Anonymous said...

Keep on posting such stories. I love to read articles like this. By the way add some pics :)

Anonymous said...

So let's get right to it, Ryan.

How would you measure "improvement", Ryan? What's the Ryan Willey standard here?

Otherwise, I think that you're simply loading the argument here.

And I challenge this statement: "The town has proven time and time again to be poor stewards of our money." I understand that you are preaching to the choir here on this blog, and you'll get away with it. But I don't think that it's true. I actually think that our Finance Committee does a pretty good job under the circumstances. Would I prefer a mayor? Of course.

I believe that the blunders that have occurred have been very, very public, more open to blame and recrimination than in most municipalities, and have been discussed ad nauseum. AND we tend to overpay for administrators in both the Town and the Schools, and it's arguable whether we get value for those extra dollars. But it's not the slam-dunk argument that you make here.

You don't think that Mr. Kelley's relentless vigilance on Cherry Hill has had a deterrence effect on what goes on there? (I do.)

The Town's current crisis was actually delayed for many years because the Town, in its thrift, had amassed a $10 million reserve earlier in the last decade. Now Mr. Kelley has an ongoing argument about how we currently tap reserves, but that's different, a philosophic difference of opinion. Your charge, although accepted as gospel here, is not supported by the historical record.

And, tell me, Ryan, are you running for Town Meeting this year? I saw lots of blank space on the Town Clerk's nomination sheets when I went in there this week to put my name in. They are giving out political power for a song at the Clerk's window. I'm really tired of folks who bitch but don't participate, unlike Mr. Kelley who's in Town Meeting. Time to come on down and wrestle with the budget numbers. The deadline is February 2. Don't tell us you don't have enough time.

The Town is not being run by some unseen group of Others. They are right there sitting in front of Town Meeting, night after night, subject to the questioning and snickering of Mr. Kelley.

Rich Morse

Rick said...

Very well said Rich!

LarryK4 said...

Yes Rick, and you have been in Town Meeting how long now? Maybe a year?

And yet you lead the charge of the Overriders three years ago and like the Charge of the Light Brigade...

Mr Morse: I never engage in "snickering" on the floor of Town Meeting as I know the camera never blinks.

Although, I DO shake me head a lot.

Anonymous said...

I am curious as to get a real grasp on how we arrived at where we are today. I am not looking for a debate or corrections on my puncuation and spelling, but as Rich put it facts with historical backbone. I understand the property tax base that almost single handedly supports the town. But how is it we can't entertain a large business here in town that would not only support us with tax support, but supply people with employment.

I also am curious as to who other than the colleges and the Atkins Market (I think we could have dropped the fruit stand status when they became a tourist attraction LOL!).

I agree with Rich on the point that if there are positions open on town meeting, and you want change, step up to the plate and take some swings at the lousy pitches our town administrators are throwing you might knock one out of the park. I personally would sign up but I'm starting my second job at the end of the month and I would not be able to attend as many meetings as needed to be a supportive member.

Lastly I feel a town is a business and like any business we hire people to perform and show the results of their performance. If the performance is substandard then adjustments need to be made, and people need to be either eliminated/replaced. This may sound harsh but the most successful businesses are not based on group hugs. The only way that I will vote in favor of an overide is if someone can prove to me that the money will not be spent foolishly, how will we goven our spending moving forward, and how long will the influx of monies haunt us with a tax increase (I don't want my children paying for our errors).

I'm not trying to create a pissing contest I'm looking more for contructive ideas from your own minds. Even I can cut and paste news articles.

Best Regards,


LarryK4 said...

To keep it simply Dale--not that you are a simple guy: Amherst is half owned by tax exempts (Amherst College, Umass, Amherst town conservation and Hampshire College roughly tied for 3rd).

And of the OTHER half who actually pay taxes, 90% are homeowners and only 10% commercial/business.

Amherst has almost always been anti-business (advantage of sucking at the teat of state, federal or other non-profits) and almost always will be.

Although now that the government and assorted non-profits are actually feeling the pinch of this recession, even the lefty "government-is-great" Nitwits are starting to rethink the doctrine.

Anonymous said...

"Amherst has almost always been anti-business (advantage of sucking at the teat of state, federal or other non-profits) and almost always will be."


Who is this "Amherst"?

And how has it remained so powerful for so long?

Anonymous said...

"And I challenge this statement: "The town has proven time and time again to be poor stewards of our money." I understand that you are preaching to the choir here on this blog, and you'll get away with it. But I don't think that it's true. I actually think that our Finance Committee does a pretty good job under the circumstances."


"The Town is not being run by some unseen group of Others. They are right there sitting in front of Town Meeting, night after night, subject to the questioning and snickering of Mr. Kelley."



And another: TOOL.

Anonymous said...

"Very well said Rich!"

"When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!"

Anonymous said...

Do the people who support an override understand that an override is not a one-time increase in taxes? It's permanent. Next year's taxes include the additional override money too, as does every year after that. Overrides are like a snowball rolling down hill.

So, when people say we need another override the question becomes how come they can't make due with the last tax increase?

Anonymous said...

Hey Mo, Hey Larry, Hey Fellas!

Could ya bring that tit of the state a little closer. I don't feel llike getting up from the the beach chair to reach for it.

That's a good boy.

Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!Go override!