Amherst FY17 budget will be "status quo"
Peter Hechenbleikner attended the first meeting of the Budget Coordinating Group on Thurdsday morning even though he technically doesn't start his $75/hour Temporary Town Manager position until February 1st.
Temporary Town Manager Peter Hechenbleikner pondering BCG info
A good thing of course, since this snapshot budget update will set the tone for the next four months leading up to, ugh, Town Meeting.
Budget Coordinating Group is made up of Town/Schools/Library heavy hitters
After the Schools, Town and Library chiefs' gave a brief update of where they are with their budgets, BCG newly reelectd co- Chair Andy Steinberg summed up the situation by telling the group they were "in a comfortable spot."
Outgoing Finance Director Sandy Pooler gave a macro-view of the state budget and how it impacts Amherst, as well as an update of the town side of the overall budget.
Pointing out that this upcoming year is a "bargaining year for all municipal employee contracts, that doesn't leave a lot of room to add anything new". The proposed budget (coming out January 27) will not add a single employee and in fact will be a net reduction of .5 Full Time Equivalents.
Mr. Pooler did say the "add list" for any extra unanticipated revenues would prioritize a police position. Currently the highly regarded Community Policing Officer is funded by a state grant that could lose funding when it expires at the end of the current fiscal year.
Amherst Fire Department will also get an extra $30,000 for supplies. The Cooley Dickinson Hospital used to let them restock ambulance supplies from hospital stock but the cost conscious new owners have put a stop to that.
School Superintendent Maria Geryk confirmed her budgets would meet Finance Committee guidelines of no more than a 2.5% increase, although she will have to cut $470,000 from the Elementary School Budget and $300,000 from the Region.
Jones Library Director Sharon Sharry also confirmed the Library budget will be within the 2.5% guidelines even though they have cut back the draw from the $7.25 million endowment to only 4% ($310,000), and make up the difference through fundraising and state aid.