Policy goals set for Amherst town manager in 2022

  • Amherst Town Manager Paul Bockelman. GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Monday, January 03, 2022

AMHERST — Six policy goals, including promoting racial equity and social justice, addressing climate change and enhancing Amherst’s economic vitality, will be used to drive decision-making in 2022 by Town Manager Paul Bockelman.

The Town Council recently unanimously adopted a series of both policy and management goals for Bockelma. The goals reflect the priorities of the 13 councilors.

According to the written memo, the policy goals “are meant to be used by the town manager to set priorities, direct work activities, and allocate staffing and financial resources.” The memo also notes that councilors anticipate “a year which will pose serious fiscal and operational challenges and uncertainties.”

The 2022 goals are similar to the ones that Bockelman was asked to pursue over the past year and also include climate action, community health and safety, economic vitality, four major capital investments, housing affordability, and racial equity and social justice.

District 3 Councilor George Ryan, chairman of the Governance, Organization and Legislation Committee that reviewed the goals, said the idea was to have concrete, measurable objectives in each category.

For instance, with respect to community health safety, Bockelman is asked to continue responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, while also implementing the Community Responders for Equity, Safety and Service Department that was approved by the Town Council this week.

For housing affordability, Bockelman will pursue aspects of the comprehensive housing policy the council adopted on Sept. 27, 2021. And for racial equity and social justice, he needs to make sure that the planned reparations to address structural racism continue through a process that is being established by the African Heritage Reparation Assembly.

The six management goals, meanwhile, reflect the ways in which the council will assess the day-to-day performance of the manager’s duties as set forth in the town charter, as well as his ability to supervise town employees.

A new goal is to establish more connections with the University of Massachusetts, Amherst College and Hampshire College, with calls for Bockelman to develop and implement strategic partnership agreements with the campuses to mitigate the financial and social impacts of the higher education institutions, and to seek ways to collaborate on housing, economic development, and the long-term financial viability of the town.

The other management goals relate to administration, leadership and personnel; finance; long-term vision; community engagement; and relationship with the Town Council.

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