Those figures show some startling contrasts. The value of Amesbury’s assessed property is a little less than $2 billion; Newburyport’s is about $3.6 billion. The personal savings of Amesbury residents is a little less than $300 million, according to the Federal Reserve. In Newburyport, the figure is about $1.1 billion. Economically, they are worlds apart. Yet Amesbury’s government spends on par with Newburyport.
It’s pretty cut and dry. The citizens of Amesbury don’t have the financial wherewithal to keep pace. They need their money to be more carefully spent from the top on down — but especially at the top.
Amesbury needs to focus on getting its property taxes in line. Right now, the average single-family home property tax is nearly $6,000 (that’s about $150 more than Newburyport, where home values are about $140,000 higher). When potential homebuyers look at the mortgage bill and property tax bill combined that they must pay in Amesbury, they too often vote with their feet and look elsewhere. Getting the high-tax-bill albatross off homeowners’ backs would do wonders for Amesbury’s home values, and by default, its sky-high tax rate.
This year may be a pivotal one politically in Amesbury. There have been more candidates stepping forward to run for public office than in any recent year. People want to see change. That’s a positive for Amesbury. It needs to focus on its tax problem, and perhaps the pressures of an election year will get things moving in the right direction.