Sunday, October 4, 2015

Pay The Piper

UMass is by far the town's largest employer

These days -- or most any over the past 35 years -- it's not often I find myself in agreement with forever activist Vince O'Connor, but on this particular issue he's dead on correct.  There, I said it.  Step one in any good multi-step program.

UMass currently pays the town under $500K as a Payment In Lieu Of Taxes courtesy of a "5 year strategic agreement" signed w-a-y back in 2007.  Thus it expired over three years ago but has been extended annually ever since.

I'm told by a reliable source that a new multi year agreement had been on Town Manager John Musante's desk for many, many months now.

His unfortunate passing two weeks ago today could obviously delay even longer the ratification of that new agreement -- if indeed it is worth ratifying.

Because if the amount is under $1 million per year -- which it probably is since Mr. Musante seemed not overly interested in jumping on it even though he had come under pressure of late by the Select Board to get an agreement resigned -- I would tell UMass to go fly a drone, err, kite.

With a Public Safety budget of $10 million and our police and fire/EMTs dealing with UMass students on and off campus amounting to 25% of our emergency services utilization, that alone comes to $2.5 million the town should be reimbursed.

 Amherst FY16 (ends June 30, 2016) budget

And with UMass grad students sending their children to our public schools (56 total, times our high $20K per year average cost to educate) that comes to another $1 million plus per year.

If UMass were smart -- and they are after all a "higher education" enterprise -- they would seek to cut a new five year deal as soon as possible.

Because if Representative Kulik's bill passes to force tax-exempts to pay 25% of their assessed value, and Amherst and Hampshire College end up paying for more than UMass there will be hell to pay.

This year Amherst College paid the town $130,000 -- up from the previous year's $90,000 -- for AFD fire/EMS services while Hampshire College paid us a BIG fat zero.


Anonymous said...

It's too bad that the folks of Amherst need so much welfare. I wish the folks knew how to take care of themselves better, perhaps this is a lack of good education?

Just imagine the pride of being able to support your own families, especially in a community that is so financially robust due to the university.

Perhaps it would be better to look at why Amherst and its citizens cannot afford their town given all the extra money pumped in by the university and its activities.

Anonymous said...

UMass is underfunded by the state. Not the time to be rallying for more payment. If Baker and Co. get their act together and fund a state university at the proper levels...maybe then we can explore making sure Amherst is properly paid.

Anonymous said...

Amherst is a classic case of welfare for the educated. Get a degree, work at a University, and you too will be taken care of. Sad as these losers teach their kids to have little aspiration in life. It's no wonder why the school system in Amherst has so much to be desired. It works well for parents who only know status quo.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't apply to state entities. It would apply to Amherst and Hampshire.

Anonymous said...

Yes ask ask ask what your country can do for you, not what you can do for your country. How far we've come since '61.

Anonymous said...

Please keep in mind that professors and other top earning staff, including staff/members of the athletic department tend to be "just visiting" as it is a very transient town. This means the money they make does get spent in Amherst, until they move and take their retirement/savings with them.

Also take into consideration we do not collect much tax revenue from protected/conservation land, and very little tax revenue from the colleges/university.

Also take into consideration that some of the large housing projects are owned by investors not in the Amherst area, so after their operating expenses and taxes, the net revenue is being drained out of the town.

The people that do remain in town for the long term tend to be support staff that is not necessarily highly sought after or recruited from other establishments throughout the rest of the country, (like professors and grads may be). Let's take into consideration the cost of living and the wages the support staff might actually make, I wouldn't imagine there is much more surplus to spend in local businesses.

Amherst is making an effort to create incubator spaces that will encourage entrepreneurship and hopefully retention, which would then support and maintain a vibrant modern micro city, (10,000-50,000 residents make up a micro city).

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the same person wrote all six comments. Even Ed isn't that obvious.

Anonymous said...

I will say that I wrote the last one "please keep in mind..." independent of the other comments. Born and bread Amherst, I have blood in this soil. I am one of the ones that are going to stick around this town.

Anonymous said...

I just work here. Don't live here. Do spend money here.Although where I spend the money I make here is nobody's business.

Dr. Ed said...

I don't see why UMass should give the town a penny.

Amherst tells the students "sucks to be you", we are going to do whatever we please.

Why shouldn't the Commonwealth adopt the same attitude toward Amherst?

And if you wish to talk about money being spent elsewhere, students borrow vast amounts of money, which is spent in Amherst -- and then isn't spent somewhere else, over the next 20 years, as the now-graduated students are repaying these loans.

That's money being sucked from the rest of the Commonwealth and given to Amherst.

And then remember that the UMass students are reflected on your Cherry Sheet -- the state aid that Amherst gets -- as the census is conducted on April 1st instead of July 1st, tens of thousands of low-income individuals (and the state/federal money that comes with them) are credited to Amherst instead of their hometowns.

Anonymous said...

Now Now Ed calm down, remember your condition...

Anonymous said...

I would quickly bet that more Umass students continue to live in Amherst vs. Amherst High students, by both # and %. Any takers, any data if this is the issue? Local HS students are the individuals in town with the highest statistical likelihood of emigration, they are also the group that demands the highest amount of public funds per capita.

Thus, through the transitive property, the group most likely to leave is the one we invest the most in. This is the funding philosophy of most American towns, Amherst obviously included. But most towns don't have a huge awesome university to make the economy robust or contribute to the long term resident population. Most towns limp along without such a benefactor.

Thus, this cannot be the logic we use to determine where to make town investments or demand funding or we would have to reduce funding at the primary and high schools significantly to be consistent. It seems that it is not practical, acceptable or traditional in town funding to consider the transient nature of the individual invested in. Doing so would put the current town funding philosophy at risk, and thus most of the things funded robustly, like the schools.

Dr. Ed said...

I like the idea of UMass saying "we will give you (Amherst) whatever you want -- just understand that we will be deducting it from our payroll as a local income tax. All of our employees will see one more deduction on their pay stubs, and we will put your phone number there for any questions they may have.

What makes me think that this would be the end of Amherst demanding money from UM?