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Amesbury City Council endorses Fair Share Amendment

Jim Sullivan | The Daily News of Newburyport

Jul 5, 2022

AMESBURY — The city has been added to the list of Massachusetts municipalities endorsing the Fair Share Amendment ballot initiative.

The state ballot question calls for assessing an additional 4% tax on incomes over $1 million if approved at the polls Nov. 8.

The money raised from the additional surcharge would then be used to fund schools, roads and other infrastructure needs.

Amesbury City Councilors Nicholas Wheeler, Adrienne Lennon, Anthony Rinaldi and Roger Deschenes sponsored a resolution in support of the ballot measure, which was approved unanimously after a first reading June 28.

The Newburyport City Council voted 7-4 to endorse the Fair Share Amendment in May.

Lennon said the city had gone through a very difficult budget cycle, especially for the public schools, and approval of the amendment could go a long way in relieving the financial pressure.

The amendment is an “obvious opportunity” for the state’s wealthy investors to offer some assistance to the rest of the population, according to Lennon.

“They do not live on their income, they live on the dividends of their income and it harms them in no way, whatsoever, to be contributing to the opportunities of the rest of the people of the commonwealth,” she said.

Cindy Yetman, president of Amesbury Local 1033 of the American Federation of Teachers, appeared before the City Council on June 28 to request the resolution’s approval.

Yetman said Friday she is very happy with the resolution and believes most, if not all, Massachusetts labor unions will eventually endorse the Fair Share Amendment.

“Faith-based groups are endorsing it, community-based groups are endorsing it, and now municipalities are also endorsing it, one by one,” she said.

Municipalities such as Amesbury are relying more on real estate property taxes to fund programs, Yetman said. She pointed out that the School Committee cut $477,589 from its proposed operating budget in the spring.

“All the department heads in the city needed to tighten their belts this year, so we need relief. Passing the Fair Share Amendment will bring on approximately $2 billion in additional state revenue,” she said. “This is not going to affect 99.5% of the residents of Massachusetts. It is only going to ask a small group of residents to pay an additional 4% over each dollar earned over $1 million. So, that first $1 million has no additional tax. For each dollar after that, we are asking them to pay four cents.”

The social/emotional needs of students have always been important but the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have made them even more acute, according to Yetman.

“We are finding from that experience that this year particularly was very challenging in terms of students adjusting back to face-to-face education,” she said. “We also need to get all of the students back to where they should be so additional resources are certainly needed now to be able to make sure that our students are in a place where they can learn best.”

Yetman said Massachusetts residents can expect to see union members canvassing the state to drum up support for the amendment heading into the election.

“Our next step will be a very broad campaign,” she said. “We will be knocking on doors and having meetings with community groups to inform our voters of the importance of the passage of the Fair Share Amendment. Because we do have an opposition that spins another tale about what it will bring and do,” she said.

Image of Amesbury Town Hall by Fletcher6, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

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