Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Parity at the top

Town Manager John Musante

Since School Superintendent Maria Geryk received a raise six months ago bringing her salary to $140,000 after the selection committee removed "interim" from her title, it's no surprise the Select Board set the Town Manager's salary at that same amount. And hey, at least he worked for a full year at the lousy old rate of $127,000.

When Jere Hochman descended from the heavens to run the Amherst schools eight years ago he started at a substantial amount over his predecessor's salary causing then town manager Barry Del Castilho to throw a hissy fit requiring the Select Board to give him a mid-contract $10,000 raise, that even Town Meeting voted against in an advisory resolution.

And when Alberto Rodriguez immigrated here from Florida for his very short reign as Superintendent he too started at 20% over his predecessor--and we saw how well that turned out.

So now we have parity between the two top dogs running our $77 million enterprise. Although not much parity in that division as the Schools account for two-thirds of total town spending, with labor costs accounting for 90% of their budget.

Speaking of which: it's not going to be easy to get the teachers union to accept a zero percent increase in current contract negotiations after these pay hikes for their beloved leaders.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

And a million dollar plus surplus. Hard to cry poor with the money over-flowing.

Anonymous said...

The surplus is a testament to the guy's fiscal stewardship of the Town!
I'm happy to raise his pay for that alone.

So we have parity between the "two top dogs". Now let's see how SHE does.

Chris Hoffmann said...

Anon 8:10am, And you'd be happier if it were a million dollar DEFICIT?

Seriously, Amherst had a 61 million dollar budget. Given the huge uncertainties in state funding during the budget process, to have your predictions come within a million dollars at the end is an incredible job.

And the fact that John, and now Sandy Pooler, have consistently been so close in their predictions every year, and always have erred on the surplus side, is something other towns can only envy.

Anonymous said...

So there is money for War Memorial pool and has been for years.

Anonymous said...

Although the reality is that it is the entire Town staff that is working to meet John's goals and bring the budget in. The Town's Unions and Non-union are not being offered 10%.

What is the spread between "top dogs" and the next down the ladder?

Anonymous said...

"The Town's Unions and Non-union are not being offered 10%.

What is the spread between "top dogs" and the next down the ladder?"

Hard to argue this point unless:

1. You are a top dog somewhere else making that kind of money.

2. You are a lawyer for management anywhere.

Anonymous said...

"The Town's Unions and Non-union are not being offered 10%."

Nope, the Town's unions are being offered 0%. The professionals (Musante included) all got a 2% COLA as of July 1.

Anonymous said...

Umass moves proposed solar field. Note to Amherst: See how easy that was!

LarryK4 said...

Yeah, after the Gateway Corridor debacle I think UMass is suffering from whipped puppy syndrome.

They rolled over pretty quickly on that one.

Anonymous said...

Not rolled over, listened to their neighbors.

LarryK4 said...

In a town where BANANAs rule (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.)

Anonymous said...

Listening, what a concept.

Anonymous said...

Another way of looking at it is that people in Amherst are really happy with the way the town is now. It's beautiful and people want it to stay that way. Go figure.

LarryK4 said...

Or: "I've got mine, now to hell with you."

Amherst has the highest property tax in the area with less than 10% of it commercial based.

That is, quite simply, unacceptable.

Anonymous said...

90 percent of the tax base is from residential properties--and half of those homes are owned by landlords. Owning a rental property is a business. so 55% of the tax base is from business-owned properties. 45% is from homeowners. Not looking so bad anymore, is it?

LarryK4 said...

It is when you consider more than half of all the property in Amherst is owned by tax exempt entities.

And it would be nice if the assessor taxed some of those cash cow rental properties owned by slum lords at a higher rate. Call it a "slum tax."

Anonymous said...

Well the market for jobs, housing and local businesses are based on those tax-exempt schools. How much of anything would be here without them?

Wondering said...

John Musante has been a great business manager, and I hope he won't be lured away by a local business that sees his talent and can pay him a corporate salary. Maria, on the other hand, I pray someone would lure her far, far away. The more I see, the less I like.

When we get a new superintendent, I hope he or she will show this former assistance superintendent the door and find a strong replacement. Maybe John Musante can do the schools too? If not, maybe he can make a recommendation.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, please kick Maria some more. She's doing a great job and actually likes and is loyal to this community, so by all means drive her out so we can choose another one of our higher-priced, revolving door supes that laugh all the way to the bank. Plus we could always use 10% of our million dollar surplus for the search!

LarryK4 said...

I think by now a collective list has been created in the minds of Amherst citizens that would instantly vaporize that $1.1 million surplus.

Anonymous said...

If there is a million dollar surplus, again, why are parents paying for high school and middle school sports and afterschool clubs? Why not restore the art and music cut from all the schools? Every year there are cuts and every year there is a surplus. Let the administrators and teachers wait a bit and put the money back to the kids and give the parents some relief.

Anonymous said...

We can kick Maria forever, and she ain't leaving.........because no one outside of Amherst would hire her.

So there's no danger there.

See how she fared in the Granby superintendent search. Couldn't make the semi-finals.

She's set for a long, long time. So let's not make criticism of her sound so damned crucial. It isn't.

Anonymous said...

What is the percentage of Amherst homes on the market right now?

Folks want to get out of here!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, right. They all want to move to? Wake up! Houses everywhere are for sale.

Anonymous said...

Not everyone can afford taxes at a 18.25%
The town has a surplus- what about its residents?

Nearby cities and towns- have lower taxes and offer more services to their residents. (Hadley residents can leave their storm debris curbside for pickup- Eton picks up junk a few times a year)

and gas is consistently 20 cents cheaper per gallon when you head south.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the surplus pushes back the next override beyond 2013. If so, that's the same as money in your pocket. What's wrong with my logic here?

Anonymous said...

We have a good man as Town Manager.

As we've found out, this caliber of person does not grow on trees.

Let's not blow it.

LarryK4 said...

Well I think the Select Board signed him to a three-year contract, and unlike the previous town manager he strikes me as a guy who will live up to a contract.

Ed said...

90 percent of the tax base is from residential properties--and half of those homes are owned by landlords

Which means that your hated students are (via their rent) 45% of your tax base.

What would happen if they just didn't come out here some fall????

Anonymous said...

Yes, you have found a good man. Now fire the remainder of town staff (John does it all) and we will have a bigger surplus.