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December 5, 2012

Mayor rejects tax relief option

Kezer says offsetting tax rate with free cash is 'poor' planning

(Continued)

“We the undersigned, as residents and taxpayers of Amesbury, Massachusetts, hereby request the Municipal Council reduce the city’s annual spending by 5 percent across the board for the upcoming fiscal year,” the petition reads.

Buetow said he believes taxes are too high, but rather than simply say so, he wanted to present the City Council with empirical data demonstrating that the people of Amesbury want to see change.

“I think too often decisions are made in a vacuum or with a low number of input, and they may or may not necessarily reflect what the whole city wants,” Buetow said. “The council and the mayor have difficult jobs, I think they do the best they can given the circumstances, and I think by collecting some data, that might help make their decision a little easier. This isn’t an attempt to undermine their efforts.”

The petition was first posted on Facebook yesterday and has already garnered 89 signatures, not including signatures gathered from going door to door, Buetow said.

The good news for Amesbury residents is that the city isn’t going to have the highest residential tax rate in the state this year after all. Yesterday afternoon, updated state tax reports indicated that both Longmeadow and Shutesbury had topped the $20 threshold and were each higher than Amesbury’s proposed rate of $20.24.

“Now you can say we’re No. 3 maybe, but we’re not No. 1,” Basque said. “Not that we’re arguing that we want to be No. 3; we just knew we weren’t going to be No. 1.”

As for the bond rating, Standard and Poor’s said it based its decision to raise Amesbury’s bond rating in large part on the city’s good access to job centers along Interstates 95 and 495, an “extremely strong” tax base and strong median household income measures, good financial position and low debt burden with modest future capital needs.

Standard and Poor’s uses a ratings scale that runs from AAA down to D, with AAA representing the highest possible rating and D indicating that the entity is in default.

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