Amherst, UMass negotiate on strategic partnership

  • The University of Massachusetts Amherst campus FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 7/11/2019 9:54:15 AM

AMHERST — A long-running agreement between Amherst and the University of Massachusetts expired July 1, but negotiations are underway to continue what is known as the strategic partnership.

Last updated in December 2015 when then interim Town Manager David Ziomek and UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy signed the deal to run through June 30, 2019, Town Manager Paul Bockelman said Tuesday that town staff are beginning to have discussions with UMass representatives.

Bockelman said his understanding is that, despite the expiration, terms of the arrangement are still in place.

This was confirmed by UMass spokesman Edward Blaguszewski.

“The agreement continues to remain in effect while our discussions continue with the town,” Blaguszewski said.

First adopted in 2007, the strategic partnership brings the town significant payments for fire protection, ambulances and other services it provides to UMass.

Under the deal, UMass also pays $120,000 annually related to services “including educating K-12 students who live in tax-exempt housing” and it called on the town and UMass “to jointly study the impact of K-12 students living in tax-exempt housing on the local schools.” The study led to a report, issued by the UMass Donahue Institute last fall, that determined even if property taxes were paid on the tax-exempt housing where most school-age children of UMass graduate students live, this revenue wouldn’t cover the per-pupil costs for their education.

The latest iteration of the strategic partnership also ensured that Amherst would get a share of the occupancy taxes generated at the UMass Hotel. This is quarterly money equal to a 6 percent occupancy fee, excluding any rooms paid for using university accounts.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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