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October 31, 2012

Scanlon voices support for CPA

Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon has come out in favor of the Community Preservation Act, lending last-minute support to the ballot question that voters will consider on Tuesday.

Scanlon announced his position on his Facebook page. He said he is backing the CPA not as the mayor but as an individual.

“As an individual, I support the CPA because it will help make Beverly an even better place to live, work and raise a family,” he wrote.

The Community Preservation Act is a state law that allows communities to add a surcharge on property taxes to raise money for open space and recreation, historic preservation, and affordable housing.

The Beverly proposal calls for a 1 percent surcharge, which supporters say would cost most homeowners between $26 and $39 per year.

Scanlon said he decided to express his support publicly because he wanted to let people know that residents are losing out on money that they are already contributing to the CPA trust fund.

The trust fund is funded by mandatory fees collected on real estate property transfers at the state’s registries of deeds — $20 for deeds and $10 for municipal lien certificates whenever a property is sold, refinanced or otherwise transferred.

If communities adopt the CPA, the state provides matching funds from money raised by those fees. Scanlon said that aspect of the CPA is “not well-understood.”

“I wanted people to realize that we were subsidizing our neighbors, particularly towns that are generally more affluent than cities,” he said.

On his Facebook page, Scanlon said he has not offered advice on the CPA as mayor because it is a tax, “although a small one intended for very good purposes,” but he supports the measure as an individual.

Asked about the distinction, Scanlon said, “As mayor, I want the people to decide this for themselves and I don’t want to be seen as an advocate. But I did want to perhaps further their understanding, especially on the state match.”

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