Treemageddon. 10/30/11Apparently Town Manager John Musante learned nothing from predecessor Larry Shaffer's PR major malfunction--charging Boy Scouts a fund raising tax on selling Christmas trees. So it's time for yet another town manager to be taken to the woodshed.
Amherst is now trying to profit on the freak Halloween weekend snow storm that littered the landscape with tree debris by charging a $25 open air burn permit paid to Amherst Fire Department (money that will not even stay in their budget), something that has been free since 1759.
Unlike Belchertown or South Hadley, Amherst saved a bundle by failing to open an emergency warming shelter in those critical first few post-storm days, and charging folks $100 ton for the storm debris cold, weary citizens dragged to the heavily tax subsidized Transfer Station, although an advertising error later forced them, grudgingly, to reduce the price to $50 ton.
So maybe now they're trying to make up for it. Last week the town announced yet another hike in user fees (water/sewer) that amounts to $24 annually for the average user, but did so with six months notice in order to give users time to adapt. This new $25 burn fee came out of nowhere (and it is fairly well buried on the town website).
Yesterday an irate citizen called Town Hall to complain, and a Town Manager staff member was not even aware of the new charge.
Like potholes, these seemingly trivial customer service items are issues l-o-n-g remembered. Snuff out the burn fee--a penny wise increase in revenue at a ton foolish cost.
South Amherst 1/11/12 A bonfire waiting to happen