Monday, January 19, 2015

Higher Ed Mooch?

As I mentioned a few days ago, unlike UMass/Amherst or Amherst College, Hampshire (our little "alternative" college in South Amherst) pays nothing for emergency services provided by Amherst Fire Department even though it is the third largest property owner in town.

Click to enlarge

Hampshire College also has the larges number of  "still alarms" which are automated fire alarms typically answered by at least one, and sometimes two, fire engines.   These responses are not paid for by insurance as the ambulance runs are.

 AFD raw number breakdown of 5,914 total responses (2nd highest in history)

In 2014 AFD had 188 total responses to Hampshire College with 106 -- 56% of them -- for false fire alarms, usually "cooking smoke."

In 2014 AFD had 1127 total responses to UMass/Amherst with 208 -- 18.5% of them -- for false fire alarms.

In 2014 AFD had 251 total responses to Amherst College with 55 -- 22% of them -- for false fire alarms.

In 2014 AFD had 5914 total responses within the five communities they serve (Amherst, Leverett, Pelham, Shutesbury, Hadley) with 1,436 of them for fire related emergencies, or 24%.   So the response profile of both UMass (18.5%) and Amherst College (22%) for medical vs fire comes in around average.

Unlike Hampshire College.

 Hampshire College from on high

If Hampshire simply paid the town the same amount annually as Amherst College ($90,000) we could afford to add two firefighters to bolster our dangerously low staffing levels.

Last year AFD had to rely on out-of-town "mutual aid" ambulances 44 times.  That too is insurance money that could have gone to increase staff, thus providing better, faster service to all.

Hey Hampshire: time to pony up!  (And you may want to start teaching students how to cook.)


Anonymous said...

Makes sense to me.

Anonymous said...

Probably all the Hampshire students who smoke weed

Larry Kelley said...

I was actually surprised (only a little) about the percentage of alcohol vs drugs hospital transports last year.

Out of 410 total cases 90% were alcohol related (368).

sarahbernhardt said...

I thought property taxes paid for fire departments, and I thought colleges were exempt from property taxes under the Dover Amendment. Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

Has anyone actually checked on the stereotype of the Hampshire College student or is this simply something from 20 or 30 years ago that we're too lazy to verify?

Larry Kelley said...

Yes Sarah, property taxes do pay for APD and AFD.

UMass has a Police Department (bigger and better equipped than APD) but no Fire Department.

The town of Amherst is more than 50% owned by tax exempts (Amherst College, UMass/Amherst, and Hampshire College being the top three) which means the rest of us taxpayers have to do twice the work.

And all three of them do pay for town provided water/sewer, so they darn well should pay for AFD.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:28, they are still the same.

Rene said...

Anon 3:28,

Contrary to the comment from Anon 6:24, I've found that many Hampshire students do not fit a stereotype (whatever that is). Yes, some are obnoxious/ entitled and privileged, but most are quite interesting, hard working and productive. Hampshire is different than most schools and students who are not self motivated, lack intellectual curiosity and want to be fed information will not do well there. My experience with several dozen students over the years has left me mostly impressed and, yes, occasionally annoyed, with Hampshire students. I have no ties or connections to Hampshire College, simply a few decades of close observation.

sarahbernhardt said...

Thanks for answering. I'm still sort of confused, though. Water and sewer aren't paid for by taxes, and fire department is. So I get why they pay for water and sewer: they have to.

What's confusing me is that they don't have to pay for Fire Dept. coverage, so do you think we need to work to change the law exempting them (do you not like the law)?

Also, I'm not sure why paying for something they have to means they should pay for something they don't have to.

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah, they should have to.

Dr. Ed said...

"Out of 410 total cases 90% were alcohol related (368).

Ir isn't like the AFD did a Tox Scan on all 368 as they were rolling across the bridge.

With some exceptions (e.g. acute opiate overdose where Narcan will help). medical treatment for most drugs is the same as alcohol -- (1)pump stomach and/or activated charcoal so as to prevent things from getting worse, and (2) provide supportie care to maintain heartbeat and breathing -- either of which could stop.

And Larry, while you can smell etOH, you can't smell drugs. My understanding is that there are very few kids doing drugs who dont also drink -- even if only to wash he drugs down their throats...

Anonymous said...

Surprised that you don't know alcohol is a drug. Why separate it out from other drugs? In fact, alcohol is the drug that does more damage per capita than any other.

Anonymous said...

Cause it's legal and readily available?

Anonymous said...

Actually I believe there are four major non-taxable land owners, the Town Of Amherst being among those with 1,965 acres of conservation land alone (according to the ConComm website).

Every acre taken off the market for "open space" decreases the potential land area for development of our tax base.

The CPA surtax has been an unmitigated disaster for our economic situation.

Larry Kelley said...


The Juggernaut said...

I believe that UMass should pay for their fire coverage, and that the town should pay for the recreational field use, as well as any use of the UMass hospital, library, or bus system.

Anonymous said...

Umass hospital??

Anonymous said...

Nonsense! There are towns with less acreage than Amherst which do just fine. Putting 2000 acres of our 20,000± acre town into conservation is no different than having an 18,000 acre town - and since it indisputably increases the quality of life (not to mention of our water supply), it's arguably BETTER.