BEVERLY — Mayor Bill Scanlon said last night the city would be forced to lay off at least 50 workers, close a fire station and reduce the number of police on the roads if voters pass Question 3 next month.
Using the City Council meeting as his forum, Scanlon said cutting the state sales tax from 6.25 to 3 percent, as Question 3 calls for, would be "a major step backward."
"Vote no on Question 3 and convince everyone you know to vote no on Question 3," he said.
Scanlon said reducing the state sales tax to 3 percent would lead to a $2.5 million reduction in the $12 million in state aid that the city now receives. That means the city would have to eliminate about 50 jobs, based on a $50,000 savings for each job, he said.
"That's firefighters, police, teachers, public service employees," he said. "We would certainly have to close a fire station. There would be fewer police on the road. It would affect services such as snowplowing and fixing broken water pipes."
The decline in services would create an unfavorable environment for businesses, leading to a decline in homeowners' property taxes, he said. If someone saves $325 per year in reduced sales taxes under Question 3, he said, it could lead to "10 to 100 times that amount" in lost equity in their home.
Proponents of Question 3, one of three questions on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot, say the sales tax reduction would save the average taxpayer $688 per year and create thousands of jobs. The cuts would reduce government waste and bureaucracy, not essential services, according to the Alliance to Roll Back Taxes.
Ward 1 City Councilor Maureen Troubetaris agreed with Scanlon that the sales tax reduction would greatly affect local services. She said the city has made cuts over the year. When she joined the City Council in 1991, she said, there were 149 public works employees.
"Today it's under 50," she said. "We have been efficient in our government."
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.