Friday, January 13, 2017

A Question Of Priorities

 Town Manager submits dog bites man budget

All you need to know about rookie Town Manager Paul Bockelman's FY18 budget is the underlined statement in his letter of transmittal:  No additional staff positions are proposed.

In other words AFD will continue to run pretty much full time on "brown out" relying on surrounding full time professional departments to assist with their routine life and death duties.

Of course Mr. Bockelman does state, "Any decisions regarding staffing changes in Fire and EMS await results of an independent analysis, due in February."

But if/when that study reveals the need for more staffing we have to wait until next year to make it happn. Thus leaving the town open to a negligence lawsuit if a tragic incident like what happened recently in Holyoke should occur.

 Employee Benefits and Capital are hidden costs of the White Elephant golf course

Yet his budget does show continued tax support for the Cherry Hill Golf Course of $68,749 and $392,143 for Leisure Services and Supplemental Education or a total tax expenditure of $460,892 on recreation.

 LSSE budget.  Click to enlarge/read

Maybe at the next major structure fire, when Engine 1 arrives with only one firefighter aboard as happened on June 4th, we can call in a caddie or yoga instructor to assist.

UPDATE 10:00 AM 

Coincidentally enough the town announced the retirement this morning of long time LSSE Director Linda Chalfant.  Rather than replacing her they should simple nix the entire department and use about half of the $400K projected in tax support next year to supply vouchers to town residents good at area private recreation/sports operations. 

Engine 1 (top left) was first on scene but with only the driver
Northampton FD ambulance on scene The Arbors yesterday to assist AFD


Anonymous said...

There are 21 churches in Amherst. The property tax rate currently is $20.97. I'm not very good at math, but assuming each church's real estate value is at LEAST $300,000 then $300 x 20.97 = $6291.00 x 21 = $132,111.

Tax the churches for Christ's sake! He would want you to.

Anonymous said...

What structures or people have not been saved due to low staffing?

My sense is that we are waiting for this to happen and then make a change with clear demand for it.

I think Amherst has to start making trade offs vs. More taxes for such. What to give up to get the next want or need? Anyone able to enter such a discussion of priorities?

Anonymous said...

The school budget could probably use a little scrutiny. Looks like an excessive amount of waste and dead weight there.

Anonymous said...

Bockleman has flexiblity to add staff after the study and doesn't have to wait a year. Budgets are flexbile and can be adjusted. People leave, a staff position eliminated to make room for a different one. Snowplowing budget can have extra money. A department reorganized. It make sense to do the study and then make decisions. Don't have to hang children and children out to dry. Bockleman is experienced and worked in other towns. Deserves time to work things out.

Anonymous said...

Lots of kids are in the LSSE rec leagues - a good part of the population is served by LSSE.

Larry Kelley said...

Amazingly enough the private sector is better at some things than government.

Private businesses create tax revenue while government entities consume them.

Anonymous said...

I have trouble seeing churches as more of burden than families with kids. Churches give back to the community and according the poster above, only cost $132k a year in lost taxes.

If 7 parents who had one kid paid their fair share, it would exceed the loss from not taxing churches. I do not think there are 7 sets of families in Amherst that give more back than the churches, especially if we pick 7 families at random.

Surely 7 or 70 if not 700 sets of parents in town are above the need for public financial assistance via the schools but still take the money because there is no means testing (where they would show their financial need for this help), which would be more than appropriate and far overdue for such a large sum of financial assistance. This is especially true given that the town is having trouble justifying the finances for some true common goods (which the schools are less so) like fire protection, police, roads...all of which are of lower quality because of how much general funding goes to the schools when this could be at least slightly shifted back to the families that most directly benefit if they are not needy families.

Why no discussion of means testing for school funding, especially if folks want to tax churches? It would not effect anyone poor and it would tax the wealthy users more. Both more progressive and more fair share. Isn't that ideal?

Anonymous said...

Separate church and state .

Anonymous said...

Start charging all these old goats, who overutilize ambulance services, leave the stove on,requiring fire truck runs. It is the fair thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Have a question regarding ambulances. Our town has contracts with some of the hill towns. So if there is a hill town run or possibly 2 at the same time, it's possible those crews could be tied up for 3 to 4 hours in transport. Could one of our problems be that we stretched ourselves too thin taking on this? It would be interesting to see the day your picture was taken where the other crews were!!!
And would the town be better off not servicing the hill towns because of the length of time for each call. It might be worthy of a journalist, such as yourself to look into this and gather real facts.

Anonymous said...

Or no vouchers and people pay their fair share...gasp.

Dr. Ed said...

"Start charging all these old goats, who overutilize ambulance services, leave the stove on,requiring fire truck runs."

As Amherst increasingly becomes a retirement community, AFD load will inherently increase. Remember that The Arbors, where NFD was, didn't used to be there, nor some of the stuff by Hampshire, etc.

This in addition to the aging resident base -- people have gone from parents of K-12 children to senior citizens, school enrollment dropping while EMS needs increasing.

In a logical world, the school budget would decrease while the AFD budget increased.
It's not UMass causing the problem!

Anonymous said...

"It's not UMass causing the problem!"
Was there a blue moon...ed is right on this one

Anonymous said...

Old goats? You will be one before you know it!

Anonymous said...

Churches non-profit status is taxation without representation-when unions do this tripe-you cons get your panties all in a twist-go figure !?@&$$$