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 kcleveland@cabinet.com.