Public Comment: Direct Town Manager to Prioritize Climate Goals


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The following public comment was submitted in writing to the Amherst Town Council in advance of their meeting on November 20, 2023.

  1. Please support the inclusion of specific climate actions in the Town Manager’s goals, and in the budget and finance guidance. Councilors, please do not give your power to the Manager . The balance of power is precious and has to be guarded.
  2. Please vote against the Jones additional debt authorization. Authorizing more debt when overall funding is not in place is fiscally irresponsible. Funding the library project also adversely affects an array of capital projects deemed critical. Repair/renovation of the library can be done over a period of years and have a minimized budget impact, as noted by former Finance Director, Sean Mangano. Also, remember that the library figures include neither staff nor furniture for the proposed huge new space. 

Please do not allow the deprioritization of progressive efforts previously committed to by the Town Council. The Governance Committee asks the Council at the November 20 meeting to weigh in on whether the “Council’s performance goals for the Town Manager be broad and/or [as in all previous years] include specific steps, Projects [such as affordable housing initiatives, initiatives to fulfill climate goals adopted, fulfillment of racial equity initiatives adopted], …or should the Town Council rely directly on the Town Manager’s ability to set priorities, direct work activities, and allocate staffing and financial resources to meet these goals.” In other words, the Council leadership, through GOL,  is asking: should we let the Manager prioritize or forego budgeting for initiatives that the Council has adopted in the past or believes need more exploration? The answer to that is an emphatic “no”.

Despite the question from GOL, the candidates for Council expressed their support for climate action in the budget on the campaign trail when responding to the Amherst Climate Justice Alliance candidate survey. (Non candidate councilors were not surveyed. Ana Devlin Gauthier and Bob Hegner did not respond). As a reminder, candidates stated:

Candidate NameEnsure fulfillment of Climate Action goals is a top priority in capital and operating budgetsEmbed climate/climate justice lens across departmentsAdd 2 full time positions in Sustainability DepartmentHold Town Manager to implementing yearly climate action goalsAdopt greenhouse gas reducing and zero waste actions in the CAARPAdopt a climate emergency declaration
Cathy SchoenPrioritizeSupportDon’t supportSupportPrioritizeNo answer
George RyanPrioritizePrioritizeDon’t supportPrioritizePrioritizeNo answer
Pam RooneySupportPrioritizeDon’t supportPrioritizePrioritizeSupport
Lynn GriesemerPrioritizePrioritizePrioritizePrioritizePrioritizePrioritize
Patricia De AngelisPrioritizePrioritizeSupportPrioritizePrioritizePrioritize
Jennifer TaubPrioritizePrioritizeSupportPrioritizePrioritizePrioritize
Andrew SteinbergSupportPrioritizeSupportSupportSupportSupport
Anika LopesPrioritizePrioritizePrioritizePrioritizePrioritizePrioritize
Mandi Jo HannekeNo answerSupportNo answerSupportNo answerDon’t support
Heather Hala LordPrioritizePrioritizeSupportPrioritizePrioritizePrioritize
Ellisha WalkerPrioritizePrioritizeSupportPrioritizePrioritizePrioritize
Ndifreke EtteSupportSupportNo answerSupportSupportNo answer

Thank you. 

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