Presently serving a term on the Northborough Board of Selectmen, Jeff Amberson, also the board's chairman, is running for re-election on May 14.
A Northborough resident for 28 years, Amberson works at iRobot Corporation and his wife works at Algonquin Regional High School. He first became active in town through coaching various sports teams, including as a volunteer as the first freshmen lacrosse coach at Algonquin. He's also the past president of the Northborough Lion's Club and past treasurer for the MetroWest chapter of Ducks Unlimited.
"My experience in town government started when I was appointed to the Conservation Commission, where I served for six years, including four years as chairman," said Amberson. "My inspiration for volunteering for the commission was my desire to maintain Northborough’s rural character. During that time I helped write the town's first Open Space Plan with the added benefit of gaining knowledge and experience that proved to be invaluable when I was elected to the BOS in 2000."
NP: What is something you are most proud of having done on the board?
JA: Despite the very uncertain economic times the country and state are facing, we have been able to keep Northborough thriving. During my time on the BOS, we have constructed a new Library, new Senior Center, and some of the very best schools in the state. This has been accomplished through careful planning, while continuing to strive to maintain a sound financial platform. All the capital projects presented at the April 2011 Town Meeting were funded with no additional tax impact to the residents, using a combination of Free Cash, State Grants, and Mitigation Funds. The Town was able to invest in new equipment, a school roof and a new Middle School boiler system for a total of $1.96 million in capital investments.
Through thoughtful and conservative practices, we have kept Northborough moving forward in a responsible manner while minimizing the impact on the tax payer. The 2011 Annual Town Meeting approved a FY2012 Budget that had an estimated tax impact of $237 for the average single family home. Due to conservative estimates in regards to State Aid and strong economic development (new growth), the actual tax impact for the average single- family home was $143, or $94 less than originally estimated. In terms of trend, the $143 FY2012 tax increase came on the heels of a $20 decrease to the average single family tax bill in FY2011.
NP: Why do you think people should vote for you?
JA: The best measure of what a person will do in the future is to look at what they have done in the past. I’m proud of what we have accomplished during my time on the BOS. Northborough is in excellent financial shape. During these historically tough times, we have worked hard to attract responsible development to town. Over the past two years, while other communities watched their tax base shrink, Northborough has added $142 million in new growth. In 2012 alone, new growth accounted for $1.2 million in new tax dollars. We have consistently planned conservatively regarding our town budgets and it has proved to be a wise decision. Northborough is one of six Massachusetts communities that has been recognized by the Government Finance Officers Association with the Distinguished Budget Award. The award recognizes “….. the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting.” Northborough currently enjoys a bond rating of AA2, which is among the very best in the state and we continue to keep our monetary reserves at very healthy levels. By every measure, we are in very good financial health.
Keeping a conservative approach to finances while continuing to attract responsible development to town has allowed us to continue improving our infrastructure. During my time as a selectman, we have reinvested in our community. We have renovated the town library, which is now one the nicest in the area. In 2010 we opened the new which benefits the entire community. We continue to work closely with the School Committee and the school administration to keep our schools among the very best in the state. We continue to move forward.
I have worked hard to help preserve the rural character of Northborough. Since I’ve been on the BOS we have preserved over 75 acres of open space in town and supported the creation of approximately 20 miles of walking trails. I am very proud of receiving the “Distinguished Public Service Award” from Sudbury Valley Trustees. I received this for “leadership in the conservation and preservation of open space in the town of Northborough."
As we go forward, it will be vitally important that our leaders have a clear understanding of town government and the acquired experience necessary to continue weathering the current economic storm. There is no reason to believe that Northborough can’t continue to prosper without sacrificing the character and attributes we love. By working together, and being proactive, there is no reason our success won’t continue.
NP: What do you love about Northborough?
JA: The people and sense of community. People in our town want to be involved. We have a great group of individuals that enjoy giving back to the town and contributing towards making it a better place. When you look at the number of volunteers who are members of the various boards, committees, and commissions, it makes you proud to be a part of the team.
NP: How do you label/describe yourself politically?
JA: I would describe myself as a socially moderate/fiscally conservative person. I believe in a “live and let live” attitude. The role of government should be to work with people, rather than dictate to them. It needs to be a collaborative effort.
This is Northborough Patch's series profiling candidates in the 2012 town election. Are you running and haven't heard from Northborough Patch? Contact us at email@example.com.