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February 25, 2013

CPA committee proposal heads to Salem council

SALEM — The city is another step closer to implementing the Community Preservation Act, with a proposal to set up a nine-member committee headed to the City Council this month.

The CPA allows cities and towns to add a surcharge onto the property tax to benefit projects that create or improve recreation, open space, affordable housing or historic preservation. The extra money raised is matched with state funds.

Salem’s CPA ballot question passed by more than 1,500 votes on Nov. 6. The city could begin CPA projects as soon as July 1.

Last week, a City Council subcommittee voted to send an ordinance on to the full council that would create a nine-member CPA Committee in Salem. The council is expected to hear the issue at its meeting on Thursday.

The committee would have one member each from the city’s Conservation Commission, Historical Commission, Planning Board, Park and Recreation Commission, and Housing Authority, plus two members appointed by the City Council and two members appointed by the mayor.

The members appointed by the mayor and City Council would serve two-year terms, and the five members from city boards would serve three-year terms.

The conservation, historical and other city boards would each choose their own representative to the committee. City councilors could choose to appoint a councilor or a member of the public.

By law, the first five members of a CPA committee must come from existing city boards: the Historical Commission, Parks and Recreation Board, Housing Authority, Conservation Commission, and Planning Board. Communities have the option to include up to four additional members.

Salem’s proposed ordinance, modeled after one used in Peabody, was created by a working group formed after Salem voters adopted the CPA this fall. The group worked with Beth Rennard, the city’s lawyer.

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