Amherst College knows how to be a good neighbor
Yeah, yeah, yeah cynics will say -- after all this is the Internet -- that when you have an endowment over $2 billion, anything measured in mere tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands is chicken feed.
But the point is Amherst College is a tax-exempt entity and as such is not forced to pay anything for Amherst Fire Department's high quality service.
Besides, they do pay property taxes on all the houses they own and maintain so nicely. As well as the two commercial businesses that have been around forever: Downtown anchor Lord Jeff Inn and the 9 hole Amherst Golf Course, which unlike our own Cherry Hill, actually makes money.
Last year those total taxes came to $502,080, or a cool half million.
Click photos to enlarge
Lord Jeff pays property taxes like any other business in town
On Monday night just before the 9/11 flag controversy came up for discussion, Comptroller Sonia Aldrich mentioned that Amherst College, our #1 landowner in town, had increased their "gift" last year from $90,000 to $130,000 .
They don't like to call it a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes because it then ties them in to an expected annual payment but they have been paying it annually for almost ten years now. The first year it was $120,000 but all the other years it has been $90,000.
The payment is for Amherst Fire Department services, so as far as I'm concerned if it looks like a pilot, and flies like a pilot, then it's a PILOT.
That extra $40,000 -- a 44% increase over last year -- is enough to fund one new starting firefighter position (not counting employee benefits).
UMass on the other hand is now over three years behind for re signing the previous "5 Year Strategic Agreement," which currently pays us around $375,000 for the over $1 million in services they get from overworked AFD.
New Amherst College Greenway Dorms (4 residence halls) will be protected by AFD as will the new 230,000 square foot Science Center