NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 5, 2012

Camps mobilize on Newbury tax hike

Both sides make push as 3rd override attempt goes to voters

NEWBURY — Supporters and opponents of a proposed $293,000 tax hike are rallying the troops to get out the vote as an override question hits the ballot box for a third time tomorrow.

The question aims to raise the tax levy in order to address what town leaders say are deficiencies in the operating budget. If approved, the override would increase taxes by $82 annually on the average home valued at $400,000.

After two unsuccessful override attempts in Newbury in as many years, Myfanwy Collins, organizer of the social media campaign Newbury Override Yes, said her “non-partisan group of concerned citizens” got involved in more actively promoting the tax hike because its members believe the measure is “what is best for the safety, well-being and happiness of our town as a whole.”

“We are mobilized. More and more people are coming on board,” said Collins, whose effort is using both traditional campaign tools as well as tapping social media like Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.

Collins said the override isn’t about politics or money, but rather is a way to “restore critical town services such as police coverage and fire wages” and keep Newbury “a safe and beautiful place to live.”

She said the support her movement is receiving from “older, fixed-income folks wanting the override to pass” has been the biggest surprise. “Everyone is feeling very positive about it,” Collins said.

But Max Boucher of the anti-override group Newbury Austerity said he is banking on voters to once again “keep their wits about them” as they head to the polls tomorrow. He believes selectmen are “panicking” about the state of the town’s operating budget — and is convinced voters know better.

Boucher has proposed maintaining the $959,003 in the town’s free cash account “as a contingency reserve” that would be available to the plow teams and police and fire departments for overtime and for key repairs, fuel and supplies. He believes with the close to $1 million reserves and the allowable increase under Proposition 2 1/2 in the next fiscal year, the town has enough funds “to see us through.”

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