Sunday, March 24, 2013

What They Make

Amherst Town Hall shrouded in fog

Unlike the website of our little All American Sister City to the west, Amherst's award winning municipal website -- you know, the one that trumpets "Open Government To The Max" -- does not provide a data base of all town employes and their current salaries.

Neither of course does Amherst Regional Public Schools website.

I guess when you're the town's chief administrator, making $62,100 more than the Mayor of Northampton, maybe you don't want to remind people of that $142,100 salary or, like the Mayor of Hamp, that you are not the highest paid municipal employee.

Only in Northampton, however,  a bevy of people make more than the Mayor.  In Amherst only the Superintendent of Schools, Maria Geryk @ $147,000, costs taxpayers more than the Town Manager.

Although if you compare the other higher paying department head positions in Amherst town government they are further apart as a percentage from the Town Manager's top dog salary.

That is also the case, even more so, in the Amherst school budget.  Far more glaring is the total number of school employees in the $85K and up club.

And yes, basic ARPS teachers make a tad more than average:  $66,484 vs state average $63,000.  And our one teacher to ten student ratio is lower than state average of 13-1.  But these two factors alone do not add up to our exceedingly high $17,116 average cost per child to educate vs state average of $13,361, or Northampton's $12,596. 

According to the Mass Department Of Education website, Amherst "administration" costs are at $735 vs state average of $447, or 60% higher than state average.  And pesky critics have been pointing that out for years.


Anonymous said...

It would be really interesting to see how many town employees actually live in town.

Anonymous said...

At least the school department played it straight with you and gave you income from all sources.

The town did not give you gross income earned. They only provided base wages + longevity bonus. No overtime, detail, one time lump sum payments, or taxable fringe was included. This can add tens of thousands to individuals' gross earnings.

Amherst does not have a residency requirement and nor should it. The cost of housing and living far exceeds most of western mass.

Larry Kelley said...

The town did give me one other huge file of all town employees with all those add ons, but I had problems uploading it.

Will try again.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear anon 9:20, I didn't say they should have a residency requirement. I just said it would be interesting to see how many have chosen to, or can actually afford to, live in Amherst.
And, yes, it would also be interesting to see the OT, holiday, etc, pay. Good luck uploading that Larry

Anonymous said...

Finally, lets talk turkey!
This is another example of Amherst being too big for its britches AND a glaring example of Outsourcing Amherst. With all the wonderful things said by the Town Manager and other "leaders" about our community, why is it that qualified and capable residents cannot be found for Town employment?

A count SHOULD be made, especially of those with the highest earnings (e.g. Police Chief, Fire Chief, Police Captains, Assistant Fire Chiefs, DPW Head, Town Assessor and Town Clerk-they're married, Planning Department Director, IT Director, Assistant IT Director, LSSE Director, Town Collector all of whom live outside of Amherst). Come on, not even the police or fire chief? And now a separate union for police supervisors?! What does that say about how many cops are actually responsible for police work vs administrative duties (not unlike the schools, or having an Assistant Town Manager as well as a Finance Director and Comptroller).

More effort should be put in to recruiting those who are also tax payers and might, therefore, have a more vested interest in the Town.

As each day passes the taxpayers seem less and less to be the ones to reap the benefits of their investment. Many Town employees take their earnings and commitment elsewhere and even some of our services are provided (e.g. Town Council) by those from outside of Amherst.

Perhaps if employees were also residents (as once was common in towns and cities throughout the US) we could return to being the Community we boast to be where people and neighborhoods and middle class citizens really do matter.

And, by the way, my spouse and I make less (combined) than many Town employees make individually, and yet we managed to live in Amherst.
Sometimes enough really is enough.

Tom McBride said...

Yeah Larry, see if you can figure out what the earnings are with overtime and so on. The town should provide you with a file that is easier to use. Laughing (but not really), all that stuff is held in shrouds of mystery! I would say that they should have a file for their own use that keeps track of it, but in truth, they may not. They just may just know the overall numbers.

Something else to be considered is overtime, the overtime rate, the level of health insurance, retirement benefits, health insurance in retirement, personal days, sick days, vacation days, paid holidays (state and federal), and any services offered to them by a union. It would be nice to fit that into a big equation and equate the salary in "real world" terms. I'm not saying you should do it, but somebody should.

Tom McBride said...

Oh yeah, and if somebody is given a car, and/or reimbursement for car expenses, whether it is deemed necessary for their job or not, reimbursement for a cell phone, I'm not mentioning any names, but his name is John, or whatever other bells and whistles are added to their package, that should be added also.

Anonymous said...


Am I reading something wrong or missing a data point but the list shows Maria G. making a lot less that the $140+K salary. It shows others making much less than they do as well. I thought maybe this was an Amherst only paycheck and not regional paycheck but I also noticed some ARMS teacher names on the list. Help enlighten me please.

Anonymous said...

Amherst no longer corners the market on high cost of living except by property taxes. Hadley home prices are equal to Amherst or higher. Amherst has gone down considerably. Northampton is stable or up. You have to move pretty far away to get more affordable these days.

Larry Kelley said...

According to Rob Detweiler:

Attached is the information that Mr. Kelly requested.

· In the workbook “Kelly Request” (attached) there are four tabs.

The first tab is a list for all Amherst School employees, including employee name, position, months of employment with District (may have changed position along the way), and earning from all pay sources for calendar year 2012.

The second tab is also for all Amherst School employees and lists their accrued earned vacation balances are as of June 30, 2012.

The third tab is a list for all Amherst-Pelham Regional School District employees, including employee name, position, months of employment with District (may have changed position along the way), and earning from all pay sources for calendar year 2012.

The fourth tab is also for all Amherst-Pelham Regional School District employees and lists their accrued earned vacation balances are as of June 30, 2012.

· There is no report for projected FY13 salaries, Please refer to the information section of the budget document for budgeted individual salaries

· For vacation and sick time allowances please refer to the collective bargaining agreements

Please review and forward to Mr. Kelly at your convenience.



Dr. Ed said...

As the son of a high school teacher who has friends who also grew up as the children of teachers, let me point out that -- at least in terms of the schools, it is not a good idea for your K-12 teachers to live in town, let alone to require it.

Let's start with the issues that arise when a teacher's child is in the teacher's own class. Or the principal's or superintendent's child. It's not fair to the child, it's not fair to the teacher, it's not fair to the other children or anyone -- and it can get really messy.

Second, parents advocate for their children -- that is expected and admirable. But it gets really complicated when you are doing it amongst your co-workers, and that's if everyone is being professional about it.

In terms of the elementary school, one could arrange for ones children to go to a different school, but once you get to middle/high school, there is only one school. As to your subject(s) (I taught two), they are either going to be in your class or they are going to be in someone else's class who isn't teaching the subject the way you think it ought to be.

Third, child care. There are a lot of situations where things happen unexpectedly and a parent (or grandparent) really has no option but to bring a child to work -- and education, being a child-friendly occupation, is particularly tolerant of this. Co-workers are often willing to help out, particularly if they know what happened to force the parent to bring the child to work.

Or one parent drops off the child for the other to take somewhere and there is the lag time -- I've seen children in the teacher's room before and it is no big deal. If the child doesn't live in the district....

It gets very complicated in a thousand different ways if a child does.

Fourth, a larger discussion would be the interesting differences in the concepts of boundaries that exist between teachers and psychologists, even without all the current concerns about sexual abuse and the rest. It really is not a good idea to have high school students stopping by the homes of their teachers on Saturday afternoons -- it's not good all around -- and that is why I wish I hadn't lived in the district I was teaching in.

Fifth, there are situations like the night when I and a few other teachers went to a local bar and a colleague had the embarrassing situation of having to point out to a waitress that the girl "sitting over there is 14 years old" which he knew because "she's in my homeroom."

I'm on record saying I think it is inappropriate for a psychologist to be the chair of the school committee in the town where she practices -- it's the same thing here.

No. I really don't think it is a good idea for teachers to live in the community in which they teach -- and back in the 1970s, when people were talking residency requirements, someone did a study in Eastern Massachusetts and found that it essentially was a wash -- that each community essentially had the same number of other town's teachers living in it that it had living elsewhere.

Before CallerID, I also suggested the prudence of living a toll call away --- parents will never admit that it is their kids making the crank phone calls, but when they see all of them showing up on the phone bill, well....

Anonymous said...

Amherst is headed in a bad financial direction. Our labor rates are very very high. Our retirement obligations are going to be even higher. The tax rate in this town is out of control. The choices in the future are going to be very limited.

Either we pass overrides to keep the services we have. This pushes the less affluent out of town. How long can a person afford to pay $500 a month or more in taxes just to live her anyway.

Or we have fewer public servants, teachers, police, etc. Class sizes will have to go up and electives go down.

The kinds of people who are going to be able to afford the rapidly increasing and already large taxes will become the affluent who won't send there kids to the public schools anyway.

Hey maybe that is the solution. Fewer kids in schools. Fewer teachers, higher pay for the remaining teachers, and a resident base that can afford the taxes.

Maybe this would work. More student rentals lower the number of year round residents and pesky school age children. For every 10 teachers laid off for declining enrollment we hire one officer to deal with the parties. Make sure the new affluent residents send their kids to private school.

A third option would be to send all of our kids to charter school. Last I heard it only costs 10K per student, maybe I am wrong but that is a lot less than 17K. Huge yearly and retirement cost savings. Thoughts anyone.

Anonymous said...

Once people start to work here and deal with all this community tries to heap upon you, do you really think they want to live there? Nothing like trying to do something with your family in town and being recognized for what you do....especially of you are an unpopular teacher or parking enforcement (are they EVEN HUMAN). Imagine being a cop and seeing the guy you had to fight the night before? NO THANKS. I understand why public servants flee....

Dr. Ed said...

I do believe that there should be a "respond from residence" time/mileage limit for police, fire & key DPW employees -- if your job description includes the fact that you can be called in when all h*** is breaking loose, then you need to be within a certain distance to be able to be of any help.

A clerical worker living in, say, North Adams is one thing -- but a police officer is a different thing.

As to police officers (and I would argue that it ought to include Fire as well), there *are* programs where both the Amherst Housing Authority and private landlords can offer free or greatly subsidized (by HUD) apartments to police officers.

I know the differences it makes when a UMPD officer lives in North Village -- not only does it help with the "us versus them" attitude but the officer understands the issues better.

Perhaps the approach to the problems in Amherst is to encourage the large apartment complexes to offer units at reduced rates to APD/AFD officers.

Anonymous said...

We have an excellent Town Manager. Worth every penny.

Anonymous said...

"All this community tries to heap upon you"???
I've heard so much carping about Amherst from so many of its employees. Odd that they don't seem to mind the pay and benefits here though or else they wouldn't, right?
There are many who would feel safer knowing a cop lives in the neighborhood especially since the site of a "patrol" car is rare in some.
There was a time that enough public safety personnel lived on Longmeadow Drive that it was referred to as municipality road. And a number of others grew-up in Amherst and lived on streets such as Strong, South Pleasant, South East and Alpine.

Anonymous said...

How about we just start cutting all of the central office jobs that continue to create themselves and rarely cut themselves. Don't call them administrators because they will simply change the job title.

Geryk continues to hire people that are never in contact with children. How many bean counters and paper pushers does a school system need?

If we're going to try something radical as a solution, I advocate we eliminate all of the the central office jobs.

Anyone who is not in direct contact with students should not be picking up a school related salary.

Take the school's Human Resources dept, for example. It has grown enormously in the past ten years to handle our ever burgeoning district, right? No, actually, the same people who tell us we need the same kind of human resources a big company needs are also telling us that enrollment is shrinking and layoffs are on the horizon.

Which is it Amherst School Superintendent? Is the enrollment going down? If so, why are we still spending so much for Human Resources.

Why can't we somehow get by with the same HR size we had for all those years when we were actually a much bigger district?

Oops. Did I just tell your little secret all of you who are making the big dollars there in those central office jobs? Of course, some of those people in CO are administrative assistants, who don't make a whole lot and likely do most of the actual work. Please know you are not the ones in question here.

The rest of you can keep moving the shells around on the table and hope the towns'people can't figure it out.

Then you'll throw them a bone by laying off some teachers and going all chicken little on us.

We know your play. It hasn't changed in years.

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Anonymous said...

The assignment of town vehicles-exclusive 24/7, no one else uses it-has long been issue. The justification that so many employees "may need to respond to an emergency at any time" is a weightless argument given their duties and the lack of supporting information or statistics to prove such a claim. These assignments are often made to those who sit behind a desk Monday through Friday and would never be the 1st responders to an event but summoned only once their presence was determined as necessary. Let them, either respond from their work place using a vehicle from the motor pool or respond to their workplace in their own vehicle and do the same.
For over two decades no less than 4 police officers have enjoyed the benefit of this vehicle assignment practice. A few years ago when a ranking officer was about to retire, I was told that it was a standing joke that he would finally, after 12 years, have to buy his own car. Apparently some police Chiefs have even lobbied for thousands of dollars more in their retirement allowance as this (compensation) represents the yearly benefit of having had such use of a town vehicle.
Town vehicle use was actually questioned at Town Meeting last spring. Now, low and behold, without any fanfare or public knowledge of such, a written policy sanctioning this practice appears in the recently updated Personnel Manual.
It seems unwise that tax dollars are supporting the purchase, maintenance, insurance and fuel for employees to get back and forth to work especially when positions have been eliminated and cuts have been made to school department and human services budgets. To add to the insult, the 4 officers and most others currently enjoying this benefit don’t live in Amherst.

Anonymous said...

"For over two decades no less than 4 police officers"

I should have noted that's 4 officers at a time as with Chief, 2 Captains, Lieutenant in the Detective Bureau, and that does not include the on-call detective.

Anonymous said...

anon @ 409: Kathy Mazur runs the joint, she is the puppet master. Think she would ever cut from 'her'very own department. No way! Best we can hope for is for her retirement.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Ed,

Why the hell would any police officer want to live in any of the large apartment complexes in Amherst even if the rent was subsidized or free. It would be a nightmare for the officer. It would be bad enough that the officer would be arresting many of the tenants, let alone having everyone to know that he is an officer in town. I am sure that he/she would never have any privacy,sense of security, or peace and quiet. People these days have no respect for law enforcement, let alone their elders and no respect for people in general. And if the officer had a family...good lord.

Anonymous said...

Holy crap...sounds more like south central LA than rural New England...why again does Amherst have the highest property tax rate in Western Mass?

Anonymous said...

L.A. has some pretty high property tax rates...

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone will put the brakes on school spending unless it's town meeting. The Supe can't stop overspending, the school committee bobs their heads, the number of school kids goes down as the cost per student goes up. If administrative costs were in line with the state average well over $700k would be saved, that's $7 million over ten years. If class sizes resembled normal schools, more would be saved. And so on.

Walter Graff said...

Unfortunately commandant Geryk is on autopilot with no accountability. The ills that plague the education system in Amherst are shielded from the public and anyone that starts to ask questions or raises and eyebrow is sent into the cornfield.

I spoke to an Amherst teacher today who asked me for a high five. I asked what's that for. The teacher said for speaking up against this system.

The teacher told me a number of things about how poorly the system in Amherst is including how all they do is keep giving people raises and more raises and no one says a word.

Then the teacher told me of a few parents who are of like mind and suggested I get in touch with them so we can raise more hell in a town where no one dares question the F├╝hrer. Seems a few people are starting to notice and looking to get the word out. About time the drapes are drawn back.

Anonymous said...

I asked Fuhrer Geryk if she knows who Walter Graff is. She said she has no idea who you are. I'm surprised you haven't gone directly to the top with your complaints about the schools, you sure have many. Why don't you set an appointment to meet with her?

Walter, you must not have lived in this town very long. You might think you're the first to try to pull back the drapery or some bad analogy like that. Black-hearted malcontents like you who want to angrily call out people by name in town who work hard for positive change, people like you who seek to demoralize our town, get beaten down eventually. Geez, where were you when Cathy's Clan tried employing the childish tactics what you're employing, for THREE LONG YEARS?

How about a boy's night out in the middle of the day, Walt. Get back to me on that. No one editing our comments, neither of us anonymous... face to face.

Anonymous said...

The ills that plague the education system in Amherst are shielded from the public...

But Walter the super-sleuth is revealing them for us... on his breaks.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Walter. Why not set up an appt with the Fuhrer to clear up your concerns instead of burying your perspectives in this blog? I think you can call 362-1810 to reach Headquarters.

Anonymous said...

Called Superintendent Geryk. She'd be glad to have a meeting with Walter Graff if he has some issues he needs to discuss. He just needs to call and make an appointment.

But, of course, we all know he won't do it, because he's a coward.

Maybe that's a good plan, Walter. Actually communicate with the Central Office and ask them to answer your questions. May work better than "high-fiveing" an immature, unprofessional teacher at Fort River who likes to talk about her colleagues and bosses behind their backs, and allegedly is encouraging parents with children in the schools to... do what again Walter? (But, thanks for alerting us to the immature, inappropriate, unprofessional, morale reducing behavior that some chronically discontented teachers at FR engage in.)

Anonymous said...

The teacher was displeased at all the raises? I hope she has told her union rep so that they don't negogiate any raises for the teachers.

Anonymous said...

Maybe she could contact her union rep during one of her 26 sick days, or 10 personal days, or during her 9 day february vacation or her 9 day april vacation or her two week x-mas vacation or her 5 day thanksgiving vacation or her 60 day summer vacation or one of her many 3-day weekends or during one of the several periods each day the kids are not in her class but are at lunch or recess or specials or maybe some wednesday afternoon when there's no kids around...

Anonymous said...

Does anyone see something wrong with this:

State Government Employee Salaries

Governor $140,535 Deval Patrick
Lieutenant Governor $124,920 Timothy Murray
Secretary of State $130,916 William Galvin
Attorney General $133,644 Martha Coakley
Treasurer $130,916 Steven Grossman

Read more:

Anonymous said...

Larry, Why do you let Walter spew shit when he doesn't even pay taxes here? Post my comment about where he lives. Let him eat some of his own shit and defend your town.

Anonymous said...

anon 2:37pm... surely you don't believe that that is all Governor Patrick receives in compensation...

Anonymous said...

It's funny that the town manager and surperintendent make as much as the governor. I guess the responsibilities are similar.