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November 12, 2012

CPA: What's next for Salem, Beverly

City leaders in Salem and Beverly have some decisions to make, after voters of both towns adopted the Community Preservation Act at the polls Tuesday.

The CPA 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.

Salem voters passed a CPA ballot question by more than 1,500 votes Tuesday, while Beverly adopted it by nearly 900 votes.

This means both cities can begin CPA projects on July 1, 2013, said Mickey Northcutt, a Salem resident who helped organize the campaign to pass the measure in Salem.

But first, Beverly and Salem must each form a CPA committee, a five- to nine-member board required by state law to vet each potential project.

The first five members must come from existing city boards: the historical commission, parks and recreation board, housing authority, conservation commission, and planning board.

If a city decides to have more than five members, the extra members could be appointed by the mayor or city council, elected or found by other methods.

Beverly Mayor Bill Scanlon said he’ll discuss the possibilities of a CPA committee with his staff in the next few days, and with the City Council as soon as possible.

“We’ll get at it quite soon,” Scanlon said. “(We want) to get a lot of balance in what we might spend the money on. ... There are many things that would be worthy projects, but that’s what the committee would be for.”

Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll also said she plans to begin CPA discussions soon.

“We need to sit down with the City Council to develop it,” Driscoll said. “My sense would be to have a larger group, and hopefully make it as representative as possible. We need to have a dialogue with the City Council to come up with a plan for the committee, as well as a CPA ordinance.”

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