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.