, Newburyport, MA

December 6, 2013

Amesbury should shift taxes onto businesses

Newburyport Daily News

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To the Editor:

In terms of expense and revenues and transparency – I offer this critique on Amesbury municipal giveaway government as we approach tax classification, and the question, to shift or not to shift?

The 2010 population loss, less people to pay the bills; 2014 state budget discloses negative increase in students choicing out and charter sending monies, negative net; June declining graduation rate, high absenteeism; rising receivables as the tax rate and burdens rise reducing free cash; unknown till November the annual reduction in property values, lowering revenues; the need to float more in general short term obligation bonds, with another bond issue for 10 years, purposes and uses unknown to this individual presently; the need to hike meals plus rooms tax to augment revenues, while actual local estimated revenues publicly unknown; inside transfers budget to budget, lack of oversight; January thru December growing lack of openness and transparency already evidenced by the push back calendar, the annual audit no longer received in January but August or September, the annual report not promulgated as yet for the public; the revelation by the press of high salary increases compared to the rest of the county; December classification, to shift or not shift, from business to taxpayers which I believe already subsidizes business; the growing reliance in grantsmanship to make net assets and other financial reports close to even.

The charter change hurt municipal management at taxpayer expense; they do not seem to understand the lingo behind the greed.

To Mitigate: a school for public officials veteran and rookie; teaching the state constitution in the schools with local history looking towards more candidates better informed; tougher negotiations and negotiators with the unions to avert a quicker pace of unfunded liabilities, innovative approaches that are taxpayer oriented – as the tax base declines, tax exempt increases, so too, must net spending decline to avert the impact on household wealth; more effective leadership – the recent election shakes things up but does not guarantee solid fiscal financial change, or stronger leadership which the municipal corporation badly needs; a new commitment to transparency of every financial facet of local government, that’s what the community and taxpayer needs! They pay for it!

As I look back at the 15-plus years of this mayoral form of government, the annual buck increases, I say, the intention was to get of “theirs, and they’ve got it with the mayoral form!”

The question is, to shift or not to shift, that is the question? I say shift the burden onto businesses by 150 percent or thereabouts, releasing more consumer spending, controlling city hall disbursements for the New Year as recovery takes hold.

Jim Thivierge