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Merrimack Valley

September 19, 2013

Mayor wants details from challenger

(Continued)

“I’ve had to lead this city through the worst economic recession of our lifetime, which means I’ve had to make some really tough decisions to balance out taxes and meeting our needs with services,” Kezer said. “By doing that, it makes it really easy for a challenger, especially for someone who has little connection to the community and no political experience.”

Gray said yesterday that he’s in the process of finalizing a detailed plan outlining exactly what his goals are and how he will meet them, which he will release within the next few weeks. He said that should hopefully answer any question voters may have about his strategy.

He also clarified that, despite what many believe, he does not plan to cut spending to reduce the tax rate, but instead hopes to slow the growth of spending to a point that the city can sustain.

“I don’t think we can cut spending,” Gray said. “Many costs, for example, labor costs, have automatic increases already baked in the cake. What we can do is slow down the rate of increase of spending. It has taken many years to get us in the situation we are in, and it will take time to turn it around.

“That turnaround, however, cannot begin until we collectively realize we have a problem,” Gray continued. “I think that realization began [on Tuesday].”

Gray also addressed charges made by many in the school community that his lowering taxes would inevitably result in cuts to the school system, which makes up more than half of the city’s budget.

Gray said his goal is to help Amesbury’s schools become “excellent,” and he believes the best way to do that is through greater accountability and by making sure none of the money given to the schools goes to waste.

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