SB Chair Stephanie O'Keeffe, John Musante, Sandy Pooler, FinCom Chair Andy Steinberg
Unlike the venerable Amherst Schools the Town Manager today presented to the Select Board and Finance Committee a level services budget that stayed within their suggested cap of 3%, so residents will see no deterioration in services and little extra money coming out of their household budget.
Unless of course the Schools request an Override to cover their projected $737,000 deficit at the elementary level. In last year's budget the schools were given an extra $218,200 from Free Cash cash for instance.
If the Town Manger should find extra money coming into the municipal side of the budget (besides the $6,200,894 held in reserves) he would use $61,000 to fund an additional police officer for a department that is down five sworn officers over the past six years, while UMass has continued to grow over those same years.
$100,000 to add an Economic Development office to help stimulate the business/commercial side of the property tax equation, which is seriously out of balance, with residential property shouldering 90% of the property tax burden.
And the Safe & Healthy Neighborhood initiative would benefit by the addition of a building inspector ($63,608). Town Meeting will vote this spring on requiring rental registration, and inspections will be a vital component for enforcement.
On an even more optimistic note Town Manager Musante reports: "In FY14 the town hopes to see the installation by a private company of one of the largest solar arrays in Massachusetts at the old landfill on Belchertown Road and to promote other solar development in town."
Either way, the immediate future seems bright.
Bales of hay on the old landfill that will be used this spring for regrading