Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Town Meeting Snoozer

Amherst Town Hall looked busy at least from the outside last night

If last night's turnout for the League of Women Voters/Town Meeting Coordinating Committee Warrant Review is any indication, the annual Special Town Meeting starting November 2 will be lucky to acquire a quorum of its 254 members.

Perhaps because there are no hot button issues on the warrant, although I was surprised the three articles relating to solar development in town did not bring out the NIMBYs, with their solar powered torches and pitchforks.

Maybe two of the dozen who showed up were unaffiliated with the articles at hand

Article #4 (the 1st three are housekeeping articles) would create a Capital Stabilization Fund to squirrel away money to cover BIG ticket capital items coming up:  Wildwood School renovation, new Fire Station, Jones Library expansion, and new DPW facility.

The money comes from $650K already in Free Cash and even with that withdrawal the amount remaining would still be 5% of our total annual budget.

Currently Amherst reserves are 13.8% of budget and the Department of Revenue suggests anywhere from 10% to 15% as a comfortable target goal.

The $26K request for electronic voting devices for Town Meeting could run into trouble due to Town Meeting's geriatric median age.

Or proponents of the new Charter movement to kill off Town Meeting could also see it as a victory for their cause should this item fail.

Town Meeting will also be asked to allow repurposing $150K from previous spending to fix up East Street School so the LSSE recreation department can relocate there.  But bids came back too high so now the town with mothball that idea.

The money would outfit 4,000 square feet of the Amherst Regional Middle School as office space and interim Town Manager Dave Ziomek confirmed it does not require the recently talked about relocation of 7th and 8th grade students into the High School.

 Peggy Roberts TMCC Chair.  Interim Town Manager Dave Ziomek addressed the "crowd"

Since the Middle School is a total of 197,000 square feet and student enrollment has declined since it first built, the 2% of total taken up by LSSE will not even be noticed.

The two Community Preservation Act financed projects -- North Common and Crocker Farm pre school playground rehabs will pass handily.  Even with all that spending ($430K) the CPA fund balance will still have over three quarters of a million left over.

Since it appears nothing overly controversial appears on the warrant -- but with Town Meeting you never know -- November 2nd alone probably will not be enough time.  But certainly only two nights will be required to complete all 15 articles.

A refreshing break from our annual spring Town Meeting, which drones on and on and on ...


Dr.Ed said...

The only problem with putting LSSE in the middle school is the current paranoia of not only Team Maria but of K-12 in general -- remember what happened when someone left an umbrella in the Middle School some years back?

I forget where it was, but they had a town library in a school -- a combined school and town library, except that the general public could conceivably mingle with students and maybe even get into the school via the library so they had to close it.

Tell me how the public is going to access the LSSE offices without compromising our paranoid secure school concept?

Anonymous said...

"without compromising our paranoid secure school concept?"

What do you mean OUR? You don't live here. You're like a peeping tom.

Anonymous said...

Your distaste for Ed aside, is there an answer to his question?

Larry Kelley said...

They will be located in the far north end of the building with their own door for entry exit. Shouldn't be a problem.

Dr. Ed said...

They building a wall across any connecting corridors?

And the "our" was intended to be read as my criticizing my profession's current "Chicken Little" mentality. AIDS alone will kill far more teenagers than a mad gunman's bullets -- we simply don't have a thousand children being shot in our schools each year.

Now on the streets of Chicago -- possibly....