To the editor:
Let’s be honest, no one likes higher taxes, but we all want basic services, such as police officers on patrols, fire protection services, decent roads to drive on, and a safe community to live in. The time has come for residents of Newbury to approve a modest tax override.
Over the past 3 years, the Town of Newbury has been forced to cut more than 18% from the Police, Fire, Public Works and Library budgets. As a result, essential town services have been vastly reduced or eliminated. For example, the volunteer fire companies are no longer providing weekend or storm stand-by coverage, and are not putting fire equipment on Plum Island during bridge openings. Our police department is understaffed, often with only a single officer on duty overnight. The beautiful library that residents voted to build is open and available only part-time. In order to restore these key town services to safe and acceptable levels, Newbury needs more money in the operating budget.
Furthermore, Newbury has been incredibly fortunate to have a dedicated group of local businesses, individuals and organizations who have stepped up to help the town. They donated more than $320,000 worth of time, materials and services to restore the Town Barn to operational condition and to make much needed improvements to our Town Hall and Library. Now, our limited Department of Public Works crew is able to occupy the Town Barn, and the equipment can be protected and maintained, inside. This is not a luxury - this is minimal, basic working conditions. At Town Hall, much needed work was completed on the roof, exterior and interior which not only improves the overall condition and
lifespan of the building, but also comes with substantial savings in energy costs that the town will benefit from for years to come.
Personally, this display of generosity leaves me conflicted. On one hand, I’m grateful. I applaud and thank the many donors for their dedication and support of the Town of Newbury. On the other hand, I’m embarrassed and ashamed of our town. We are not and should not be a charity that needs to ask for help or rely on the generosity of others to complete the most basic of town projects. We are a beautiful, family friendly community and we can, and more importantly, should do better.
On Nov. 6 please vote YES on Question 4.
Erica Coles Jacobsen