Thursday, January 15, 2015

Status Quo + Budget

Town Manager Musante (center) presented his $21.6 million budget in 40 minutes

Unlike the Amherst public schools the town side of the budget is easily living within its means.

The FY16 budget (starts July 1st)  presented today by Town Manager John Musante to the Select Board and Finance Committee is a 2.5% increase over the current year, and even allows for an increase in badly needed police personnel by two officers.

Although APD will still be down three sworn positions from where they were a decade ago, and two grant funded positions dried up over the past few months.

Musante on adding police

Of course this budget falls terribly short by not also increasing Fire Department personnel, the other -- equally important -- half of Public Safety.  

Other staff additions includes an Economic Development Director, who presumably will work hand in hand with the Chamber of Commerce and Business Improvement District to increase business activity in a town still suffering from an anti-business reputation.

The DPW department will also get an "Administrative Analyst Position" to provide better customer service by being proactive with information.  Seems any time the DPW does a major road project, like the recent Pine Street reconstruction, tempers flare over the pace of the project. 

Interestingly the Town Manager did not follow up on his memo to the Select Board last summer suggesting it was time to relook at leasing out the Cherry Hill Golf Course, which annually costs as much as hiring two new firefighters.

The public schools make up more than a majority of the overall Amherst budget and at the moment they are looking at almost a $1 million in red ink, possibly requiring the axing of 17 employees.

The schools are separate from the town budget presented today although both require Town Meeting approval in the spring.  The only direct crossover is the one-third funding the town does provide for Amherst Together

The Select Board will now work with the Town Manager's budget (hopefully finding a way to add a couple of firefighters) and the Amherst and Regional School Committees will work with School Superintendent Maria Geryk once her sure-to-be-controversial budget is finally presented later next month.


Anonymous said...

Larry, are both of those actually new positions? Didn't we read something not long ago about the police losing a domestic violence officer that was grant funded? If so it appears this just adds one.

Larry Kelley said...

Yes we lost the "crime analyst" position not long ago AND the Department of Justice grant this time around did not fund the domestic violence detective.

Anonymous said...

1 million ARPS budget shortfall?

Start cutting from salaries from Maria Geryk and her cronies!

Anonymous said...

So, Musante makes a grand gesture with 2 cops to make it status quo, and ignores that AFD is busier than EVER. Meanwhile, Geryk is cutting teachers after adding a crap load of highly paid admins. How stupid do they think we are?

Anonymous said...

The school budget is worse than that....they are cutting teachers because they are losing SO much revenue by our students school-choicing OUT of this district (because they don't want their kids doing to school here). The irony!

Anonymous said...

"who presumable will work hand in hand with the Chamber of Commerce and Business Improvement District to increase business activity in a town still suffering from an anti-business reputation. "

Wait, isn't that an oxymoron. This town has no interest in growing commerce but they want to grow the commerce?

Anonymous said...

" How stupid do they think we are? "

Pretty fucking stupid!! You are all letting this happen so how dumb are you exactly?

Anonymous said...

The days of making excuses for the schools problems are over. It is now squarely Maria Geryk's responsibility. The job losses are completely her fault. She overpays everyone on Admin staff for no valid reason. She is giving the farm away to buy her support.

The students keep leaving. The problems keep growing with program after program failing. Maria resign and save the children please.

I feel bad for the 17 losing jobs, but I don't feel bad for the school losing a million from their budget. Lets see Maria cut 1 million from admin salaries, that is where the money should come from. Really how many curriculum people do we need. How many coaches do we need.

What a sham, what a scam, corruption runs unchecked.

Anonymous said...

It seems Amherst could have as many new needed employees as it wants. Their site says they have 3000 students! You have stated clearly that it costs $20,000 a year for Amherst public students. If this was reduced by only $1000 per student, still well over any reasonable cost to educate a kid for one year. At $1000 x 3000 students that is 3 million dollars...again from a 5% reduction in school expenses (easy easy easy to do). $3,000,000 can hire many police and firefighters at $50k a year.

Perhaps someone in Amherst town government should take a class on addition and subtraction....or perhaps the taxpayers should because they designed this imbalanced mess. You could save enough PER CLASSROOM to hire another town employee or gasp, give the money back to those that actually earn it, the private sector.

Imagine the wealth if per year costs per student were down where they should be at $5-10k. That is a town with 100s of millions of extra dollars in the economy doing good. Perhaps even making rather local jobs for these graduates....rather than fluff school or public sector admin jobs. Perhaps they could educate people in the public sector about economics. Introduce the idea of supply and demand, show them that money has value and consequence when not used effectively. Ahhh, never mind. I keep slipping back to the public sector being there for all of us in stead of those in it. My mistake.

Anonymous said...

I have an idea. Why not combine the Schools HR department with the towns HR department and fire Kathy Mazur. In one fell swoop we could save at least 100K and bring some justice for the Akalis family.

This is a win win.

Larry Kelley said...

And Kathy could say fire Sandy Pooler. She does have seniority.

Anonymous said...

At the Amherst League of Women forum on the state of our schools the other day (& now airing on ACTV), the superintendent said that enrollment for the schools including Pelham now stands @ 2800. One of the district's arguments for adding central office administrators in recent is that they are just trying to build the dept back to the size it used be say 10 yrs ago. Of course, during that same period, the number of students in the district has fallen significantly, to the point that there are now discussions about consolidating the elem, schools & combining the MS & HS in one buillding,

At the forum, the superintendent said that there have been "modest increases" in the number of Amherst kids now being homeschooled or going to private schools. I'd be interested to see those nunbers. She said that she would make them avail. on the ARPS web site this coming week. Just a few years ago, the district was reporting that no children from Amherst were attending Deerfield Academy b/c the district didn't have any data from DA on the numbers. It wasn't true then & it's not true now, & I personally know more & more families that are pulling their kids from the district. i believe the number of such kids is not insignificant.

Anonymous said...


I must concede you are correct. Sandy Pooler who by all accounts is highly competent and fair could lose to Mazur who is incompetent and corrupt simply because of seniority. Being Amherst that is probably the most likely outcome to.

Anonymous said...

Did the ARPS finance person (let go without any explanation) know (and warn Maria) that the district was gonna be in trouble midway through this fiscal year?

From the Dylan situation- we know that the district punishes messengers whene they hear information that they would like to ignore!
Might explain his departure- and this current shortfall!

Anonymous said...

Doesn't Mazur only have a HS diploma? this has also struck me as ironic for a district which keeps adding more PhDs, EdDs to its central office?