If Amherst can reach agreement…why can’t Lowell? (to much blather maybe)

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I think UMASS Lowell has provided a lot of jobs and dollars into the community and the uprise in political blather over what the City Manager is proposing and what the University will accept is just more BLATHER.

Stop the showmanship Mr. Manager, your proposal is nothing more than an item for the City Councilors to rally around in an attempt to show the taxpayers they are fighting for them, when in reality that proposal had as much chance of in passing has I would have running for the School Committee or Council (but you’d have a better chance of the SUN backing you than I ever would!)

If UMASS and the town of Amherst can reach an agreement than UMASS Lowell and the City should also be able to reach an agreement that is reasonable.

Here are highlights of the Amherst deal reached in 2015:

AMHERST, Mass. – Officials from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Town of Amherst have finalized a new, multiyear Strategic Partnership Agreement that addresses a range of issues, including payments to the town for fire, ambulance and other municipal services, annual payments to the town equal to an occupancy fee at the Hotel UMass, and commitments to joint work on public utilities, public safety and economic development issues. The agreement extends to June 30, 2019.

Under the terms of the agreement, UMass Amherst will pay the town more than $3.6 million for licenses, fees and services, including water and sewer service and fire and ambulance coverage.

Under the new agreement, UMass will pay $120,000 annually for various services the town provides to the university and its faculty, staff and students, including educating K-12 students who live in tax-exempt housing and first responder services. The university and town agree to jointly study the impact of K-12 students living in tax-exempt housing on the local schools. The university will also continue to encourage UMass student volunteerism in the Amherst schools.

The university will also provide funding equal to that of a 6 percent lodging fee for each occupied room per night at the Hotel UMass, excluding rooms paid by university accounts. Payments will be made quarterly. The University began collecting this occupancy fee in July of 2014 and will transfer more than $257,000 to the Town in the first payment.

The town will also continue to receive payments for fire and emergency management services based on a formula that factors in the complete cost of providing services minus state payments-in-lieu-of-taxes to the town. In fiscal year 2015, the university paid $381,344 for ambulance support from the town. In addition, the university will consider, on a year-to-year basis, providing additional funding for emergency coverage during high demand times. This fiscal year, the university is paying $80,000 to fund additional details during the first weeks of each semester.

UMass Amherst Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy says, “The future of UMass Amherst and the Town of Amherst are inextricably linked. This agreement charts a course for future collaboration on key issues and ensures that the university does its part to support essential services.”

“Renewal of this detailed agreement is the foundation of our essential partnership with the University,” says Alisa V. Brewer, chair of the Amherst Select Board. “We fully embrace the idea that we are continuously engaged in building both a better town-gown relationship, and the best community for all of us.”

If Amherst and UMASS can reach an agreement, than UMASS Lowell and the City of Lowell should be able to sit down but the political grandstanding (BLATHER) away and reach a similar agreement that takes into consideration the many positives things UMASS Lowell beings to the city along with UMASS Lowell understanding the city’s need to ensure some funding to help deliver services to the taxpayers.

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