AMESBURY — The COVID-19 pandemic has caused plenty of economic pain over the past month, but the city may be better positioned than its closest neighbor to weather the storm.
Gov. Charlie Baker declared a state of emergency, shutting down all schools and nonessential businesses in the state to deal with the novel coronavirus until at least May 4.
Amesbury Mayor Kassandra Gove and Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday closed all city schools and buildings to the public until the end of the state of emergency.
Holaday spoke with The Daily News this week and said she is concerned the shutdown could have a significant impact on her city’s revenue.
She said the state of emergency could lead to the loss of “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in tax and parking revenue as the warmer, summer months approach. Newburyport is a well-known summer tourist destination.
Amesbury has two hotels within city limits but relies less on tourism income than Newburyport, Gove said Thursday.
In an e-mail, Gove said she expects to see diminished tax revenue due to the coronavirus shutdown but also wrote that meals and hotel taxes comprise just 1% of Amesbury’s overall general fund revenue.
The mayor added that the city’s short-term cash flow is expected to decrease due to her administration’s recent decision to waive late fees for bills during the state of emergency.
“We are sensitive to the situation many of our residents now find themselves in,” Gove wrote. “But we do depend on that revenue to meet our obligations and expect anyone still working and receiving a regular paycheck to pay their bills in a timely matter.”
Gove said the city will also see a decrease in revenue in some departments because of canceled programming, lost investment income, and a drop in licensing and permits.
“We will see a correlation between the severity of these impacts and the duration of the economic shutdown and how quickly the economy recovers, once the state of emergency has been lifted,” Gove wrote.
Gove echoed Holaday’s view that there are many unknowns ahead.
“The city expects to maintain a stable fiscal position due to its economic reserves, budgetary flexibility and the ability to adapt to revenue fluctuations, and the anticipated emergency aid from the federal government,” Gove wrote.
Staff writer Jim Sullivan covers Amesbury and Salisbury for The Daily News. He can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 978-961-3145. Follow him on Twitter @ndnsully.