, Newburyport, MA

October 16, 2013

With Mayor Kezer, check fact vs. fiction

Newburyport Daily News

---- — To the editor:

I received a “ vote for Kezer card” in the mail. On that card, Mr. Kezer states the following: “Controlling taxes has always been a priority. Amesbury tax bills are the average for Essex County.”

Fact: Amesbury has the highest tax rate of all 34 communities in Essex County and the 7th lowest home values in the state.

“Our schools have shown remarkable improvement and are the best schools in the region” 9/25/13 Kezer’s Facebook: “Congratulations to the Amesbury Public School System for scoring higher ‘that’ the state in every subject area at every grade level ... “ Fiction.

Fact: 9/25/13 The Daily News: MCAS results: “Overall Newburyport had the highest scores across all grade levels and subjects in the region, while Amesbury had the lowest.”

“Only 53 percent of Amesbury Middle School sixth-graders finished with proficient or higher scores in math, well below the state average of 61 percent.” In science: “… and Amesbury High School last with 70 percent just below the state average of 71 percent.” Interesting observation: Recently, 9:30 a.m. at a local breakfast spot, three high-ranking town employees (two of whom were School Department officials) were sitting at a table. Their combined salaries is nearly one half of a million dollars! Amesbury pays more per public employee than others in Essex County (some $11,000 more per employee than Newburyport).

Food for thought when you are trying to scrape up enough money to pay your taxes.

“We have controlled costs while maintaining exemplary city services.” Fiction.

Fact: Roads and the sidewalks: deplorable condition; water and sewer bills: exorbitant; central fire station: in disrepair; Amesbury middle school: in disrepair and hazardous to students, etc., etc.

However, there is one employee seen in the new 12,000-foot DPW building (is that in Amesbury or Merrimac?) and Kezer has plans for another 12,000 feet.

The taxpayers of Amesbury must stop being apathetic, stop listening to false political rhetoric and stop electing officials (mayor and council) who have their own self-interest rather than that of the taxpayer at the forefront of their decision-making. The present elected officials seem to have forgotten that they are the custodians of our hard-earned money and have a moral responsibility to spend it wisely. The City Council and Finance Committee are comprised of the same elected people; therefore, there are no checks and balances. Only one or two members have the courage to challenge the mayor and represent the taxpayer. We must rise up, demand that our voices be heard and demand accountability and participation.

It is our hard-earned money that is being frivolously spent and we have no voice in how it is spent except at the ballot box. Know the true facts before casting your vote in November. A change is long overdue.

Mary Louise Bartley