UMass is by far the town's largest employer
The 3.5 year Strategic Partnership agreement hurriedly signed around Christmas is pretty much a status quo deal -- which is to say lousy -- and only provided $120,000 in new monies for "various services the town provides to the university and its faculty, staff and students, including educating K-12 students who live in tax-exempt housing and first responder services."
The combined budget of Amherst Public Safety Departments (Police/Fire/Dispatch) comes to $10 million and about 20% of those resources go towards dealing with UMass students on and off campus, or about $2 million.
In addition School Superintendent Maria Geryk told Town Meeting last year there were 56 children coming into Amherst Public Schools from tax exempt family housing at Umass for a cost to Amherst taxpayers of $1.2 million.
Interestingly in the original 2007 Strategic Agreement UMass clearly stated that if Mark's Meadow Elementary School should close (which it did soon thereafter) they would come back to the bargaining table to discuss the cost of educating children from their tax exempt housing.
Not only did they not come back to reopen the agreement after they took back the School of Education building, but just a few months ago UMass demolished the $200,000 town owned portable classrooms that were located to the rear of the building.
So I wondered how much work went into the new Strategic Partnership that was 3.5 years overdue when finally signed. My sources told me Nancy Buffone, Associate Vice Chancellor for University Relations, was the main point person on the academic side.
And of course Town Manager John Musante and his sudden replacement Dave Ziomek were in charge on the town side.
I'll let you decide ...
Took six weeks and cost $275