NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 24, 2014

Amesbury tax rate 4th highest in state

City was only local community to rank in top 100

(Continued)

The increase prompted widespread acrimony across the city, and the tax rate proved to be the dominant political issue of the 2013 city election. Ultimately, public frustration with the rate helped propel Mayor Ken Gray to the city’s top elected office, edging out four-term incumbent Mayor Thatcher Kezer in a tightly contested race.

Gray, who has made reining in the city’s tax rate one of his top priorities as mayor, called Amesbury’s tax rate “outrageous” and pointed to the city’s falling property values as one of the main reasons for the latest jump.

“If you dig into the data, you’ll find that Amesbury was the only one of the five contiguous communities whose property values went down,” Gray said. “So even if all of the spending locally was the same, our rate would have gone up anyway because our values went down.”

Gray said increasing the city’s property values would be the most effective way to help bring down the tax rate, and despite the latest increase, there is reason for optimism that could finally happen in the near future.

Between 2012 and 2013, Amesbury lost $67 million in property values, heavily contributing to the sizable bump in the tax rate, but between this year and last year, the city lost only $15.9 million in value.

When the 2014 tax rate was announced in November, Kezer attributed the improved outlook to the strengthening of the housing market, and he said he expected the city should start to see its tax rate finally start to come down next year.

“This will be the last year of the rate going up because of the values, and the expectation is that next year the tax rate will go down because the values are rising so quickly,” Kezer said on Nov. 27, 2013. “That won’t be reflected for another year, because you have to use the prior year data.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Port Pics
AP Video
Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 U.N. School in Gaza Hit by Israeli Strike Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Officials Warn of Avoidable Death in Hot Cars Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' House Committee at Odds Over Obama Lawsuit Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record
Special Features