When I picked up The Daily News on May 13, I thought the date was incorrect. I assumed the lead story was an April Fool’s joke, but it was over a month late. Yes, believe it or not, two members of Newburyport’s City Council introduced a formal request to be sent to the state asking that Newburyport be exempted from Proposition 21/2 so that the city can raise as much tax money as they feel may be necessary for future school budgets. If the state Legislature agrees with this “home rule” petition, Newburyport will be able to raise taxes as high as they deem necessary to fund city schools. When councilors run for office, everyone says no new taxes. Now the battle cry is, let’s have unlimited taxes just in case we need money down the road for our schools.
Just last year the city approved three ballot initiatives: to build a new Bresnahan school, to perform major renovations to the Nock/Molin middle school and build a senior center. Now with two of these projects well underway and the third still in the design phase, Councilors Kinsey and Heartquist have come up with the crazy idea to give the City Council unlimited access to our checkbooks when it comes to the schools.
Yes, we all agree that good schools are very important, but some folks who live in Newburyport have finite financial resources. During the recent School Committee budget hearings, I recall that this year’s school budget increased by over 10 percent. I would hope that the school department would be able to manage with an increase of that nature.
With the most recent reassessment and the increase in the tax rate, my taxes went up by 9 percent in just one year. The biggest increases have not yet come to fruition, as the increases from the three capital improvement projects will not peak for several more years.