Amherst College Greenway Project this fine Sunday morning
I don't think anybody is going to feel overly bad for Amherst College being reduced from a AAA to merely a AA+ by Standard & Poor's so they now share, gasp, the same bond rating as the town they are named after.
After all, they still have $2.2 billion in their endowment. Yes that's billion with a b as opposed to only $9 million the town has in its reserves.
The cause of the slight crack in their financial armor is the increased debt load, a mere $330 million, brought on by reinvesting in infrastructure, mainly the new Greenway Project.
The four new dorms should be open in the fall of 2016 and the $200 million, 230,000 square foot science center project will get underway, again.
Last year Amherst College donated $120,000 to the town to cover Amherst Fire Department emergency runs to their campus.
And AC does pay taxes on all the one and two family homes it owns and rents out to professors so in that respect they also help fund the huge pubic education costs in Amherst, which consume the lion's share of the municipal budget. In fact, Amherst College is the #1 taxpayer in town.
But there was some grumbling at the recent Community Preservation Act Committee meeting in regards to a $200,000 request for a fire suppression system at the Amherst College owned Dickinson Museum complex.
Since CPA money can only be used for certain things, perhaps the town can work out a kick back deal whereby Amherst College donates 75 cents to the General Fund for every CPA dollar they are awarded.
Representative Stephen Kulik has a bill pending in the legislature to allow cities and towns to tax private tax-exempt entities like Amherst College at 25% of their assessed value.
Vince O'Connor has started a one-man crusade to get Amherst College to contribute more Payment In Lieu Of Taxes, specifically to relieve pressure on the Regional School Budget.
Vince O'Connor on the attack, December 7th SB meeting
His theory is Amherst College would be wise to sign a multi-year donation deal now before the state makes it a requirement.
Kind of like working out a divorce settlement with a mediator rather than allowing a probate judge to make the call.