, Newburyport, MA

Local News

November 3, 2012

Official's tax debt under question

Opponent calls selectman's override endorsement hypocritical

NEWBURY — A leading opponent of a proposed $293,000 property tax override in Newbury is calling into question one of the measure’s biggest proponents — Selectmen Chairman Joe Story, saying he owes the town nearly $10,000 in back property taxes.

Max Boucher — organizer of Austerity Newbury, a campaign to defeat the override question on Tuesday’s ballot — believes voters should be aware of Story’s delinquencies before they head to the polls.

Earlier this week, Boucher presented The Daily News with copies of official tax-title forms filed last December. The forms show that Story owes $9,322 in unpaid taxes on land he owns or shares jointly with other family members.

Boucher questioned the hypocrisy of a town leader failing to pay his own taxes while at the same time championing an effort to pass an override to increase property tax rates in town. If approved, the override would raise taxes $82 a year for the average property owner.

But Story said he is in the process of paying off his debt and contends that the fact he is having some personal financial difficulties does not negate the need for taxpayers to address a structural deficit in the town’s operating budget.

“I owe the money and I am working on paying it off,” said Story, who was direct and forthcoming in his response. “It’s a fact and there is no excuse for it.”

According to the Southern Essex Registry of Deeds, the properties in question and taxes owed are:

2.27 acres at 29 Newbury Neck Road owned by Joseph Story II and Anne W. Story: $2,060.78 in unpaid taxes

.93 acres at 32 Newbury Neck Road owned by Joseph Story II: $3,337 in unpaid taxes

6.25 acres at 240 High Road owned by Joseph Story II, Nancy Story and Peter Story: $3,924 in unpaid taxes

The property owners have also been charged $1,645.19 for interest and incidental expenses related to the title taking.

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