SALEM — People are talking taxes this election season. In Salem, the debate extends to the Community Preservation Act and whether its benefits are worth a property tax surcharge.
City residents will vote Nov. 6 on whether to adopt the CPA, a state law that allows cities and towns to add a surcharge on the property tax to benefit projects that create or improve recreation, open space, affordable housing or historic preservation. The extra money raised is matched — the percentage varies each year — with state funds.
A public forum on the issue is scheduled for Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Moose Lodge, 50 Grove St. Six panelists, three in favor and three opposed to the CPA, will speak and answer questions from the audience.
The event, hosted by the Mack Park Neighborhood Association, will be taped and rebroadcast by Salem cable access television.
In Salem, an organized group of CPA supporters have created a website and are spreading the word, speaking at numerous neighborhood and community groups and even marching in the Haunted Happenings parade this month.
“We just want to be able to provide the facts and let people make the decision for themselves,” said Mickey Northcutt, a member of the Salem Community Preservation Alliance. “We’re trying to reach as many people as possible. We just want to make sure people have an opportunity to know how this works, what type of projects it will be used on and its benefits.”
Northcutt, director of the North Shore Community Development Coalition, will be one of the CPA supporters on the Oct. 17 panel. While the NSCDC board has voted in support of the CPA, Northcutt said he’s working with the Salem Community Preservation Alliance as a private citizen, not on behalf of his employer.
While there is opposition among city residents, there is no organized group advocating against the CPA in Salem, City Councilor Paul Prevey said.