NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 15, 2013

Taxes remain the talked-about issue in Amesbury

(Continued)

More recently, the city has come under fire for replacing former school business administrator Mike Bergeron, who made $94,000 annually, with former Newburyport assistant superintendent Deirdre Farrell, who will be paid $129,000 annually.

Councilor Kelcourse has also said on numerous occasions that he isn’t comfortable with the fact that many department heads, including police chief Mark Gagnon, make much more than some of their peers in bigger communities. He said that Gagnon in particular makes 12 percent more than the police chief of Peabody, which has a population three times that of Amesbury.

The point I’m trying to get at is that there are a lot of pieces to this puzzle and different ways to attack each one. If the council is serious about cutting spending, then it should be willing to work with all parties involved to find areas where the city is overspending and have the fortitude to make the necessary cuts.

But at the same time, the effect spending cuts will have on their own won’t be significant if property values drop by $67 million again like they did last year. Heck, the council could make a whole range of serious cuts and the tax rate could still go up again.

In order to keep that from happening, the city needs to build up its property values, and as controversial as it might be, the city is trying to do that by investing in projects like the DPW move and the new Heritage Park.

Whether the city spent too much on the DPW move has been argued to death, and I won’t touch that right now because frankly the ship has sailed either way. But regardless of the cost to move the building, the reality is the Lower Millyard has been wasted for decades and the city should be getting much more out of it than it has.

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