UMass, Amherst & Hampshire Colleges account for 27% of all AFD calls
On Thursday all the head honchos -- Select Board, Finance Committee, Town Manager John Musante and Finance Director Sandy Pooler -- will meet in Town Hall for the unveiling of the Town Manager's Fiscal 2015 budget.
Don't expect any earth shattering changes. Although maybe, finally, a much overdue increase in staffing for our beleaguered public safety departments.
One thing that should be discussed is reimbursement monies from our three institutes of higher education. You know, the reason why Amherst is a "college town."
The main one of course is UMass. The original 5-year "Strategic Agreement", which pays the town $350,000 in new monies annually, expired June 30, 2012 but was extended for a year.
NFD mutual aid ambulance, AFD Engine 3 Pierpont Dorm UMass for ETOH student
In 2013 Amherst Fire Department responded to UMass 1,162 times with 843 of those (73%) responses for medical emergencies requiring an ambulance, with 219 of those (26%) for "substance abuse." So that means the other 319 responses required a fire engine. Ambulance runs generate insurance revenues, fire engine runs do not.
AFD Engine 2 on scene Crossett Dorm Amherst College
Although after the Crossett Christmas incident last month let's hope they go back to the $120,000 they gave us in 2007.
In 2013 AFD responded to Hampshire College 184 times with 71 of those responses (only 39%) for medical emergencies requiring an ambulance, with 17 of those (24%) for "substance abuse." The other 113 of those responses required a fire engine.
AFD crew heading toward Hampshire Dining Commons for an ETOH female 12:20 AM
So out of the three institutes of higher education AFD protects, Hampshire College has by far the higher percentage of responses requiring expensive equipment that does not generate insurance reimbursement.
Last year Hampshire College paid the town zero, zip, nada for emergency services received by the town. And as a tax exempt educational institute they paid almost nothing in property taxes. Yet they are one of the most expensive colleges in America at $57,130 per year.
And last year Hampshire announced it would offer an "undocumented student" $25,000 per year to cover those high tuition expenses. At least that student will be well protected (at local taxpayer expense).