Good for Amherst voters.
At the recent town elections, they approved two warrant articles that will benefit the town’s conservation commission and help to preserve part of what is essentially Amherst – it’s rural character.
First, they backed a proposal to allow all of the Land Use Change Tax to go into the commission’s land acquistion fund. It was an overwhelming “yes” vote that speaks well for the town’s voters. You know about that tax: it is what landowners pay when they take undeveloped property out of agricultural or forest designations, its “current use,” and develop it. Those landowners got tax breaks because such land is taxed lower than developed land so, when they develop it, they pay a tax. That’s a good thing, and it’s certainly good for the conservation commission.
And the voters also backed an article that allows $43,500 from the 2016-17 Land Use Change Tax to go toward a trail match grant, forestry management and invasive species control.
That’s all great news from a conservation point of view, but voters didn’t stop there: They also approved, by a wide margin, a $200,000 article to start a capital reserve fund to eventually expand and renovate the police station. Capital reserve funds are, in essence, savings accounts to put aside money each year for many purposes so that when something is needed, taxpayers don’t have to foot the bill all at once, or go to bonding.
Amherst has capital reserve funds for bridge repair, property assessment, commuications equipment, and fire-rescue equipment. Good planning by town officials and voters.
One last thing about the conservation articles: Notice that part of that $43,500 will go toward controlling invasive species. We strongly recommend everyone read Kathryn Schulz’s article in the March 12 issue of The New Yorker about stinkbugs. It’s a beautifully written article about a horrendous problem that is probably only going to get worse.