Friday, October 30, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
The schedule on Channel 9 is as follows:
10/22/2009 at 5:00 PM
10/23/2009 at 12:00 PM
10/24/2009 at 4:00 PM
10/27/2009 at 8:00 AM
10/30/2009 at 4:00 PM
Topics discussed were:
Single Tax Rate
Local Historic District
Attracting Business to Newburyport
Impediments to Economic Development
Education and Superintendent
Chairing School Committee
City Council and School Committee
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Then next week
October 8, 2009
For Immediate Release
978 549 7912
Ideas on Education: The Candidates’ Views
Public Debate and Q&A on October 28
“Whether you are a parent, life-long resident, or business owner, we all need to understand how our next mayor will handle issues around our schools,” said Beth Simkins, Nock PTO President. “This will be an objective, unbiased event open to the entire community.”
Questions will be pulled randomly the night of the event and read by a moderator. Each candidate will have equal time to provide their answer to each question. To submit a question, email email@example.com or mail them to Nock PTO Mayoral Debate,
The Nock PTO is a not-for-profit group whose focus is providing the Nock parent, teacher and student an enhanced educational environment. For more information on PTO activities, contact Beth Simkins at 978 549 7912; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I never said Newburyport residents don't eat downtown. What I did say on my blog:
"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 Newburyport."
So as you can see, I said that 'MUCH' of the cost would be covered by non-residents: I didn't say "most" and I didn't say "all".
I know Newburyport people go out to eat--I'm one of them. In the last month, we've been to many of them: Michaels (couple of times), Black Cow, Park Lunch (couple of times), Angie's, Upper Crust, Famous Pizza, Mission Oak Grill (hey, it was our anniversary).
I estimate that annually in Newburyport $37,000,000 (yes, that's $37 Million) is spent on restaurant meals. In Amesbury, roughly the same size in population as Newburyport, restaurants do about $13 Million in business. You could argue perhaps that people in Newburyport like to go out to eat more or have the ability to go out to eat more. I would argue that tourism explains a significant part of the difference.
Last night in the Grog parking lot, there were license plates from NH (3x) and New York, the rest Massachusetts. I was tempted to hector the New Yorkers about the Yankees but I kept quiet. Hopefully, the New Hampshire people will continue to come back if we raise the meals tax by .75% which would still be less than the New Hampshire meals tax of 9%.
I'm proposing a .75% tax to be kept LOCALLY. Not 75%, not 7.5%.
The state meals tax went up on August 1 by 1.25% to 6.25%. None of that 1.25% increase nor the original 5% goes directly to the community in which it was raised. In fact, 1% goes directly to the MBTA as it has for many years.
True, some of the current State meals tax (and sales tax and income tax) comes back indirectly to Newburyport but it's in arcane local aid and education funding formulas.
The data I'm relying on is from http://www.mass.gov/Ador/docs/dls/mdmstuf/LocalOptions/MealsandRooms.xls That data assumes implementation from October 2009-June 2010 as 32 communities have done.
This local option is a way to diversify our overreliance on property tax as a way to fund local services.
When your average tourist (and I'm pro-tourist by the way) visits Newburyport their dollars support our local businesses and restaurants. Visitors enjoy our historic and natural environment. They leave nothing behind to fix our sidewalks, support our schools, or lower our property taxes.
I think the money from a slight increase in a local meals tax ought to be targeted on a few specific local benefits. What if the money could encourage more people to downtown, what if sidewalks could be improved, what if our parks could be improved, what if we could increase the elderly exemption for senior homeowners? What if we put the money into a capital improvement fund for needed infrastructure repair? The needs are great and the local resources at our disposal are stretched thin.
This is hardly a radical notion that will kill Newburyport restaurants-- it's a rational move taken by Boston, Brookline, Somerville, Cambridge and many other smaller communities and it's even higher in New Hampshire and Maine.
I spoke to a restaurant owner last week who said that an increase in the amount I'm proposing would not impact business.
I wanted to raise these issues now so that they can be discussed prior to the election. I'd encourage you all to contact your City Councilors or attend the City Council meeting and make your opinions known.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Discussion and debate are alive and well in the comment section of the Daily News....
Thank you, Ed Cameron
Thursday, October 8, 2009
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