Hampshire College from on high
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Amherst Fire Department had it's busiest year ever in 2016, and with a budget of $6.3 million (plus $500,000 for Dispatch Center operations) it's one of the more expensive public services the town supplies.
But considering their professional expertise can oftentimes be the difference between life and death, not too many people who benefit by those skills will complain.
Whether your a homeless person passed out drunk in the center of town on a freezing morning or a high ranking town official suffering from heart failure their response is the same: quick, courteous and professional.
Although fire calls are less than 25% of total responses battling The Beast is still a priority. Anyone who has ever been a major structure fire knows all too well the devastation that results.
Amherst is half owned by tax exempt entities which shifts a huge burden on homeowners, apartments and our tiny commercial base to fund vital services.
UMass, Amherst and Hampshire College all pay their fair share for water/sewer services provided by the town and all three have their own security/police force, but how about Fire/Emergency Medical Services?
UMass paid us $500,000 in 2016 for AFD ambulance services while Amherst College chipped in $120,000. Hampshire College paid us not a dime. Nothing. Zilch.
Yes, Hampshire College was only responsible for 3% of total AFD calls but on a $6.8 million total overhead that still comes to $188,000. And Amherst College got off cheap, since their 4% share would come to $251,712.
As did UMass, where a 15% share comes to $943,920. In other words both UMass and Amherst College are only paying us about half their fair share. Although a Hell of a lot better than Hampshire College who does nothing.
If Amherst College and UMass paid us those extra amounts owed and Hampshire STARTED paying us $188,000 annually, that money would allow for a desperately needed staff increase and provide funds to help cover the $12 million new Fire Station.