Monday, June 15, 2009

Budget basics, Part 2

Tonight is the start of Town Meeting Budget Bash, 2009 Edition. To prepare I've been looking at inflation-adjusted per-capita spending over the last five years (I haven't had time to go to the Jones library or Town Hall and dig out old financial statements).

Results are over there in the spreadsheet on the right. According to the audited year-end financial statements and the Census bureau's population estimates, between 2004 and 2008 the Town has increased real spending per resident about $200$130. Spending has gone up a little bit every year, even as the population in Amherst creeps down a little faster than the population is increasing (we'll find out next year how accurate the Census Bureau's estimates are; the population decline doesn't affect the bottom line very much).

High on my TODO list: get budget numbers going back before Prop 2 1/2 was passed, and figure out how this year's proposed budget fits in; are we looking at cutting services back to a 2004 level or a 1984 level? And where is that extra $130 per person per year going-- salaries? Health insurance? More services? Pensions?
UPDATED 16 June: A few months ago the UMass Donahue Institute convinced the census bureau that they were underestimating Amherst's population.


Anonymous said...

So what's the point?

Sophistry=unsound or misleading but clever, plausible, and subtle argument or reasoning

Whenever I read this blog, I'm reminded of the West Side Story song about halfway through the show, "Cool": the Jets all standing around, one of their number has just been knifed in front of their eyes so the surviving leaders urges

"You want to live in this lousy world? Be cool."

"Town, Town, crazy Town, get cool, Town."

On the contrary, we're more like the frog in the hot water on the stove slowly being turned up to the boiling point: we hardly notice we're going to hell.

Gavin Andresen: whistling past the cemetery.

Gavin Andresen said...

Is "whistling past the cemetery" a New England phrase? I'd never heard it before last night.

Maybe spending my formative years in California made me terminally mellow, but I was probably just born this way.

As for what's the point of this blog: I started blogging mainly to help organize my thoughts. Writing them down and putting them in public for all the world to see (and criticize) is a way for me to try to stay honest.

And the point of this post: last night in Town Meeting the Brian Morton on the finance committee said that "we've been cutting since FY02." I want to know:

a) is that true?
b) if that is true, why?

... all to eventually get to:

c) will a prop 2 1/2 override next year fix the problem?