This is background information on three orders which are on the Council agenda for the Tuesday, October 13 City Council meeting at 7:30PM at City Hall.
1) Civil Service
The first order would exempt the positions of Police Marshal and Fire Chief in the City of
Without the constraints of the civil service laws for these two important positions, the City can select from a much broader and diverse group of candidates, which certainly increases the City’s ability to hire the best candidate for the position. For the Marshal position, the October 2001 Newburyport Police Management review recommended this change be adopted by the Council. As I've told the current Marshal and Chief, I'm proposing this change to put the City on the best footing possible going into the future and the proposed order is not a reflection on my perception of their performance. I appreciate their professionalism in protecting our public safety.
Other communities have made this change:
If approved by our Council, the State Legislature would need to pass a Home Rule Petition to enact this change.
2) Local Meals Tax
The second order concerns whether
The following 32 communities have adopted a local meals tax effective October 1st, 2009:
3) Local Hotel Tax
The third order concerns whether
Taken together, the adoption of the local meals tax and the amending of the local hotel tax would be a step to diversifying the City’s revenue stream. Make no mistake about it--these are tax increases. But what is important to note is that now - with the Governor and Legislature approving these changes effective this Fiscal Year - the locally generated revenue stays here in town rather than go into State coffers. So we in Newburyport decide how we want to spend it.
Many cities and states have higher meals and hotel tax rates. For example, the state of
Much of the cost of the proposed meals tax will be paid by non-residents and virtually the entire hotel tax will be paid by non-residents. Because these excise taxes are small in nature – a $100 restaurant bill will be increased by 75 cents and a $200 B&B overnight will be increased $4 -- these incremental changes are not likely to have an impact on attracting tourists and diners to
The impact on residents will be real but this additional recurring revenue will help achieve important City priorities that will benefit residents and local business. Estimated annualized meals tax revenue for
My recommendation to my fellow Councillors is that this additional revenue be targeted to specific City priorities rather than directed into the General Fund. For example, funds could be directed to downtown improvements including park, parking, and transportation; funds could be directed to neighborhood street and sidewalk repair; funds could be used to increase property tax exemptions for seniors or funds could be directed to specific education priorities.
Information from MA DOR on the administrative steps necessary to enact these changes is here http://www.mass.gov/Ador/docs/
Public input on these matters will be important as the Council discusses these issues.
Councillor Ed Cameron