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Candidate Candor: Jeff Amberson Talks Fiscal Responsibility

Incumbent Jeff Amberson is running for another term on the Board of Selectmen in Northborough.

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 charlene.arsenault@patch.com.

PREDATOR April 25, 2012 at 11:36 AM
One more sinple question Jeff: Why does the town always need, ask for, and get more from the taxpayers? I read comments like "a two hundred dollar tax increase is very reasonable" but the town never seems to listen to it's citizens who disagree. A 150,000 sidewalk plow, a 500,000 dollars school study, are just a couple recent examples of the never ending increase in the size and expense of town government.
William Jeas April 25, 2012 at 02:57 PM
FISCAL REALITY-NOT FISCAL MYTHOLOGY BOS Candidate Amberson comments are deficient in carrying-out fiscal responsibility. WHY? Here's a recounting of reality, not mythology, on the unsatisfactory fiscal control by the BOS for FY13: $1.8Mil New Tax Revenue from Avalon Bay + Northboro Crossing...and, no reduction to Residential Taxes. Why? $950K New Tax Revenue - an increase for legally allowable rise in Prop 2.5% Max Tax Levy Limit - rather than not undertaking such an increase so as to reduce Property Taxes. Why? $607K expected New Tax Revenue from new growth....and, no reduction to Residential Taxes. Why? $706K New Tax Revenue from the use of surplus past year taxes left over from Colburn St Contamination Cleanup project...and, not returned to taxpayers to reduce Property Taxes, instead allowed for More govt spending. Why? $190K New Tax Revenue from the use of surplus past year taxes left over from the Water Tower Improvements project...and, not returned to taxpayers to reduce Property Taxes, instead allowed for More govt spending. Why? $740 New Tax Revenue by taking monies accumulated in "Free Cash" and allowing the Town to spend it all....and, no reduction to Residential Taxes. Why? $1Mil New Tax Revenue from the new additive Property Taxes for Homeowners, despite all the above new Revenues for FY13. Why? Finally, the $6Mil for FY13 New Tax Revenue is an increase of +12% over FY12. Yet It did not result in Property Tax Decreases. WHY?
AG April 25, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Jeff and company built all their so called accomplishments on the backs of the taxpayers of this town. It wasn't fiscal responsibility, it was fiscal gangsterism. The performance of Jeff and his fellow colleagues at the town meeting clearly showed their misguided directions. They have got to go.
PREDATOR April 25, 2012 at 04:16 PM
It's pretty sad when a pol. is happy that he "only" raised taxes 143.00. In my opinion, that was his second failure on the issue after getting the number wrong in the first place.
PREDATOR April 25, 2012 at 05:53 PM
BTW....how about some real questions in the article.....sounds like an eight year old questioning his grandfather.
Fran B April 25, 2012 at 08:32 PM
It’s amazing to me that Mr. Jeas, Mr. Lotoski and Predator continue to second guess and criticize those who volunteer to serve on boards and committees in the Town of Northborough. Each of you, have been pontificating on the failings of those of us who have chosen to participate in our volunteer government for years. We are not “pols”, we are volunteers, neighbors, parents, good citizens of Northborough, just like you. Well not “just” like you. Admit it, we must be doing something right. At Town meeting this week, every financial article presented was supported unanimously by both the Financial Planning Committee and Appropriations Committee (independently), as well as overwhelmingly by the citizens that attended Town Meeting. They listened to the facts, weighed the debate, and voted accordingly. This is what democracy is all about! This is government by the people. Give credit where credit is due. Jeff and Bill have the experience and willingness to serve another term on the Board of Selectman. I had the privilege to serve with them and plan on voting for both of them on May 14th. Oh, and by the way, I can guess who "predator" is. There are only a few individuals that were still at Town Meeting at midnight that would have been up at 7:30 this morning still angry enough to start this post, yet not willing to "man up" and give his name.
PREDATOR April 25, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Fran B: Failing the people, volunteer or otherwise, is still failure. Period. Spending more and more, year after year, on the taxpayer's dime is a failure and immoral. Theft at the end of a barrel of a gun is still theft, who is holding the gun is irrelevant (criminal or government). Any response to William Jeas post or just your feelings and opinions? Come on "man up". That's what you do in a debate....challenge the facts, I don't care to hear how you feel anymore than you all seen to care how the taxpayers feel.
Fran B April 26, 2012 at 01:45 PM
predator, Since you are implying the action of elected volunteers can be compared to criminal activity, I will exercise my right under the constitution, in accordance with the Bill of Rights, and require you to identify yourself before I will answer.
PREDATOR April 26, 2012 at 01:54 PM
For the sake of argument.....please reply to Willian Jeas post....lost both talk about facts and not implacations.
PREDATOR April 26, 2012 at 03:26 PM
Fran B.....is it Francis.....B sure is an odd surname..is this your true identity?...as I am not associated with the government, your requirement falls on deaf ears.....you however are an agent of the government, by your own statement (see above), and thus fall under it's rule. Lesson....the Constitution....protects individual liberties FROM the government not the other way around. Continue? Or do you care to answer the question posted above?
Fran B April 26, 2012 at 07:41 PM
For the record, I am Fran Bakstran, former selectman. Someone who has never stood behind a veiled curtain to speak against town government, but has volunteered, openly, for more than 20 of the 25 years I have lived in town. You on the other hand are someone that hides behind anonymity to question and criticizes others. As for the 6th amendment comment, you made the criminal accusations; you are not the gov’t so referring to my rights was a flip comment to respond to your absurd analogy. Now, to put a stop to this nonsense, because I have tired of your foolish rant, Mr. Jeas, with all due respect to someone who openly questions, my answers to your questions as to WHY we are spending instead of returning raised revenue; it is because the warrants at Town meeting were approved by majority vote. That’s the law. God Bless America!
PREDATOR April 26, 2012 at 07:57 PM
As a Constitutional scholar you know very well I can do and say as I please."All that is required for evil men to prevail is for good men to do nothing". The Constitution, a vehicle to ensure limited government and maximum personal liberty, seems to be of little value to those who run this town and those who approve these warrants. The question you keep avoiding.....is why more and more year after year....and when will it not be tolerated anylonger?
Local Lifer April 26, 2012 at 08:08 PM
Ms. Fran B When you run for an office/board you are subjecting yourself to criticism. You should know this. In my 35+ years in town and the growth I have seen, I can't understand your thought process on how well the BOS, FPC and AC have served us. Over the past 10+ years these groups (which you were part of) seem to be directed by the Puppetmaster. Everything that is before them has been unanimously approved. Why, because it fits the budget with the 2 1/2 override. BIG DEAL It is about time we had boards and committees (with some back bone) that can say no to unnecessary Warrant items. I heard a man speak about the $5000 from CPA money for a cemetery study for the 2 old burial grounds. It blew my mind when he spoke about the $33,000 that was removed from the Cemetery funds to run the town and then fund the job w/ CPA $$. I thought the Cemetery Commission funds were for the care of the cemetery not for general funds for the town. Is this responsible government? When a town has a $6,000,000+ increase in revenue and they can spend it and more, is this responsible government? I remember back when the Board of Selectmen ran the town, they took responsibility for everything that happened. Now no one takes responsibility for anything. This has become a collect as much as we can and spend all and more of what we got. Maybe it is time for a "New Northborough", before we start borrowing from China. Maybe it is time for a change of the guards for our community.

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