, Newburyport, MA

April 8, 2013

Change needed in the corner office

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

Last week I met with some friends, all of us transplants to Amesbury. Twenty years ago we found ourselves survivors of company relocations and luckily we all ended up neighbors and are good friends. Our discussion turned to local politics, as usual, and the question of whether to move out of town or stay now that the kids are grown came up. Our parents and grandparents are not buried in town; we have no roots here other than those we created ourselves. Amesbury did not choose us, we chose Amesbury because it was safe, affordable and friendly with easy access to transportation, the beach, the mountains and our jobs.

As the years went on, Amesbury became less amenable and even less affordable. Town leadership continued to embellish its story that the ever-escalating tax burden would be eased by increasing our commercial and industrial base, but we had to spend more and more of our tax dollars to achieve it. Stop & Shop located here, the Upper Millyard was revitalized and our tax bills rose even higher and our services declined. Today, this administration is singing the same tired song. They cling to a mantra that over the past 20 years has yielded zero results; in fact, they’ve only exacerbated the problem. It’s almost like an unstoppable illness.

In this dire financial time with Amesbury’s high foreclosure rate and more than our fair share of properties under water, it looks like our community is in a death spiral. The schools are asking for $2.3 million more as they deliver less than adequate results while the equity in our homes plummets and our neighboring communities’ values are on the rise. The difference is not the locale; Salisbury, Merrimac, Newburyport are all safe communities. We obviously don’t have better schools, police or fire departments; but Amesbury residents pay more of their income to fund an inflated tax burden, paying a higher price than any of the other community in Essex County for lesser services. What is clear is that our mayor has had seven years to fix this problem. Yet all we hear from the mayor is, “problem, what problem?” It is time for change in Amesbury and it needs to start in the corner office.

David McClure