Another spending proposal by the mayor that is perplexing is a $30,000 plan to hire a consultant to draw up a “branding” plan for Amesbury. It is ironic to spend money on something like this when a large part of the branding problem is high taxes.
Amesbury has a thriving artistic community, a large collection of museums and historic sites, hundreds of acres of recreation land, great trails, scenic vistas, attractions like Cider Hill Farm, and a nice downtown. Surely there are people in Amesbury who would be happy to come up with a branding plan — for free — that would better reflect what Amesbury is all about.
Any attempt to brand Amesbury has to deal with the powerful perception that its tax rate is among the highest in the state, and that its property tax bills are high given the value of homes and median income of homeowners. That piece of the branding message has to come from City Hall.
The emphasis should be on tamping down spending, which will help drop the tax rate and make Amesbury a more attractive real estate market and a less expensive place to live. While we feel that the mayor is taking the right course by pursuing economic development in the Lower Millyard project, it must be done in sync with a strategy to lower property taxes through spending reductions and tapping excess town funds.