NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

January 17, 2013

Mayor plans study on spending to counter 'flawed' report's conclusions

(Continued)

Kezer said that despite public perception, he did not commission the report, and added that he had never even gotten the chance to read the final report either.

“We got a summary sheet with all the results of how much we’re overspending on this and how much we’re overspending on that, but I’ve never seen the actual report,” Kezer said. “Nobody sent me a copy.”

Kezer didn’t mince words when he expressed his opinion of the Ad Hoc committee’s report. Beyond simply calling it flawed, Kezer went as far as to say the committee purposely included members who’s goal was to make the report look as bad as possible in order to generate political pressure to cut spending.

The way they did that, he said, was to take 12 communities that had similar populations as Amesbury, but nothing else in common, and made apples to orange comparisons using their average costs and Amesbury’s costs.

“They were actually going to use more communities, but when they had those other communities in there our numbers looked better so they shrunk the pool,” Kezer said. “That’s one of the things I know from some of the people on it.”

Kezer was particularly critical of the report’s conclusion regarding the fire department, which said that Amesbury spent significantly more on its fire department than the other communities looked at.

“What they did was look at the total spending of each department, add it all up and found an average. Then they took Amesbury’s total spending and looked at the two to compare,” Kezer said. “Well one of the 12 communities had a fire district, which means its not part of their tax bill to pay for their fire service, it’s a separate bill. So that community, I think it was South Hadley, had a $0 for their fire budget, so what it did was pull down the comparison group’s average because their budget was zero.”

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