Saturday, September 22, 2007

FY09 Priorities


Amherst continues to face an ever increasing structural deficit. Last year, the voters said NO to additional taxation as the way to close the deficit.

In our campaign vs. the override, we put forth our funding priorities to the voters:
Support for teachers not administrators
Support for current police and fire staffing
We suggested that the monies to fund these priorities come from Leisure Services; Cherry Hill Golf Course and the nearly empty buses appropriations. We also identified 29 positions totaling over $2 million between the schools and the Town that should be combined in some manner.

Given the limited resources we have for next year, priority funding based on available new resources and funds gathered from zero budgeting for non-essential programs should first go to essential services: police; fire; libraries; school teachers and para-professionals that interact with children; Public Works and essential Town Hall personnel that are required by statute.

All other programs should be zero funded and placed on a menu override, requiring majority support from the taxpayers to continue.

Some will say that this approach is to drastic and divisive. One has to balance that opinion with the fact that many Amherst residents are being forced to leave because of the high tax burden. That is a drastic situation as well.

Over the past two years, I have observed a continuing inability of the elected officials to make budget priority decisions that protect essential services.
Maybe now is the right time to let the taxpayers do the priority setting.

Stanley G, Treasurer