NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

March 11, 2014

Gray unveils economic plan

AMESBURY — Mayor Ken Gray will present the first step in his economic development plan to the City Council tonight that looks to utilize the state’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program to help expand existing companies, and attract new businesses, to the city.

“If successful, this will be an important tool in raising the revenue base in our city from sources other than homeowners,” Gray said. “That is the objective there. We want to increase the revenue base but we don’t want to do it by increasing property taxes.”

Entitled, “Economic Incentives Strategy, an Approach to Leverage Positive Economic Growth,” the report details the need and proposed guidelines for economic incentives within the city and includes letters of support from seven local businesses such as the Amesbury Chamber of Commerce, Cammett Engineering, ARC Technologies Inc and Boston North Properties.

“The support is substantial,” Gray said. “And I suspect the council will support it as well. Some people have had a little preview of it and it has all come back positive. That is a part of what I am trying to do — to open up the administration as much as possible so that we can reduce the amount of misinformation that might potentially float around.”

An existing state program, the TIF provides tax incentives using a rational nexus and model to encourage growth that would not be possible without the TIF itself, and Gray’s report begins setting the guidelines for a business to obtain an incentive.

“By developing guidelines, you create a consistent product that you can market,” said William Scott, deputy director of the city’s Community and Economic Development office. “In the absence of guidelines, the person has to figure out what the city wants, and what they want in return, and that’s not really evident right now. The private sector will participate if it is consistent and they know the process.”

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