As far as determining an actual Essex County average, the fact that individual figures aren’t available for the 19 Essex communities in the regional system is problematic, as is the fact that the Essex Regional average includes other non-municipal entities as well.
While an exact figure can’t be calculated, it is possible to estimate a figure by taking the average earnings of the 15 Essex communities laid out in PERAC’s annual report and assigning each of the 19 remaining communities with the regional system’s 2012 average of $39,700.
In this scenario, the average earnings for all of Essex County would come out to somewhere around $43,000, which is still below Amesbury’s average, though not by as much as the Pioneer Institute data would have suggested.
Regardless, Kezer said his philosophy has been to save on the total package, and the way he’s done that is by negotiating savings on health care in exchange for higher salaries.
“Everybody complains about the current structure of municipal government based on supposedly lowball salaries with expensive benefits, and what we’re doing in Amesbury is leading the way in reforming that,” Kezer said. “We’re moving most of the benefits into the salary range and out of the benefit range, and the net result has been savings.”