Selectmen reject extra officer
Addition to Amherst town warrant mulled
Budget includes 9 money warrant articles
AMHERST – Would Amherst be a safer place if it had one more patrol officer?
That was the question on the table recently at the town budget hearing when Selectman Reed Panasiti proposed a new $83,000 article for the town warrant.
He and Thomas Grella supported it, with Grella evoking the shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., and New Hampshire’s opioid problem. Panasiti mentioned the growth on Route 101A and quoted statistics showing Amherst has fewer officers than the state average.
Chairman Dwight Brew, however, said that if the article passes, the board might face the public opposition that the School District is facing with full-day kindergarten; it had put kindergarten costs in the operating budget after voters said no to expanding the program last year.
"If the town votes no, can we add a patrolman next year?" Nate Jensen said before selectmen voted 3-2 against the article.
"I believe we’ll eventually add another officer," Selectman John D’Angelo said, "but I don’t feel this is the year."
The selectmen’s $12.9 million proposed operating budget is up $468,295 from 2016, or 3.76 percent. It has an estimated tax impact of 42 cents per thousand.
Added expenditures include a new fire captain position, a storm water engineer for the Public Works Department, 2 percent raises for non-union personnel, and continuing pay adjustments for fire and emergency medical services personnel to bring them up to area averages.
There are nine other money articles on the warrant, and most of them add to capital reserve funds, such as the funds for fire station renovation and a property revaluation.
Article 32, which would start a fund for a vehicle maintenance garage and put $100,000 in it, is the only one opposed by the Ways and Means Committee. Selectmen are split 3-2 on the garage.
Voters can debate and amend the articles at the town Deliberative Session on Wednesday, Feb. 3, and vote on them on Tuesday, March 8.
Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 63-3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.