Stan Rosenberg interviews Participatory Budgeting Commission (PBC) Chair Meg Gage, and Vice Chair John Page about citizens having a voice in how Amherst's municipal dollars are spent. The recently-formed PBC was created to bring about "resident participation in the budgeting process," under the Amherst Home Rule Charter. The PBC's website is here: https://www.amherstma.gov/…/Participa... The PBC is designed to have seven members, which include a Finance Director designee, Assistant Comptroller Holly Bowser; a Town Councilor, Cathy Schoen, plus appointed residents, John Feske and Liz Larson. One resident's seat is still open, and those interested in serving can submit a Community Activity Form, found at this link: www.amherstma.gov/caf Gage said she brought the idea of the PBC forward while serving on the former Charter Commission, after hearing of successful PBCs operating in many other cities and towns. In the next few months, the Amherst PBC will be in an research phase, gathering information about how similar commissions operate in Cambridge, Mass., and in Brooklyn and Kingston, N.Y., among other municipalities. Meetings were held in October and November, and another is set for Thurs., Dec. 12, at 4 p.m. at Amherst Town Hall, in the Town Room. Gage and Page, (the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce's membership and marketing manager), said the PBC is an exciting new development for the town, and they welcome the community's participation in this early-planning stage. The PBC will develop a vetting process for resident budget proposals, and identify potential revenue sources, such as a line item in the town's regular budget, or the capital budget. It will work with the Joint Capital Planning Commission and town staff on options for evaluating the proposals, which could be voted on the by the community afterward, Gage and Page said. The Home Rule Charter requires the PBC to submit a draft report by September 2020, with a final report due a year from now, for action by the Town Council. Under the Charter, the Town Council "shall act by voting upon the proposed measure with or without amendments within 90 days of receipt."
The Amherst League of Women Voters, Amherst Media and former Massachusetts State Senate President Stan Rosenberg team up for “Byline with Stan Rosenberg,” an issue-oriented local government news program. “Byline” will tackle town, regional and state news topics as Rosenberg interviews players in both town and state government affairs.