More than enough signatures were submitted to put the Community Preservation Act on the Salem ballot for the Nov. 6 election.
Now, all that remains is for the city clerk to certify the signatures to determine if they include the required number of registered voters.
Organizers of an eleventh-hour, grass-roots petition drive on the controversial ballot question said they are hopeful they filed the estimated 1,350 signatures needed, which represents the 5 percent of registered voters required to put a question on the ballot.
“There’s definitely more than 1,350,” Mayor Kim Driscoll said Friday, the deadline for filing signatures at the city clerk’s office. “It’s probably closer to 1,700. We are cautiously optimistic it’s going to be enough.”
The city clerk’s office has until this Friday to certify the signatures and submit them to the state.
The petition drive was launched after the City Council’s Aug. 23 meeting, when the elected body voted 6-5 against a request to put the CPA question before voters.
The signature drive was led by Driscoll and Mickey Northcutt, executive director of the North Shore Community Development Coalition, an affordable-housing and community development agency with headquarters on Lafayette Street.
“We’re optimistic,” Northcutt said. “We had like 40 volunteers who were working throughout the downtown and in neighborhoods. We’ve crossed that mark (1,350) in terms of the number turned in.” It’s just a question, he said, if they have the required amount of registered voters.
Signatures also were collected at the train station, the Front Street Coffeehouse and the Hawthorne Hotel.
The Community Preservation Act allows a property tax surcharge of up to 3 percent. The Salem CPA question asks voters to approve a 1 percent surcharge on annual property tax bills, which would be about $30 annually on the average single-family home, according to the petition.
There are exemptions for the first $100,000 of property valuation and for some low-income and elderly property owners.
CPA funds can be used for open space, parks, athletic fields, historic properties and affordable housing.
There are also state matching funds available. Peabody, for example, has received nearly $4 million in matching funds over the past decade.
Although no decision has been made on local projects, the CPA funds could be used on City Hall renovations, Winter Island projects and the Salem Common fence restoration, backers said.
City councilors who voted against the CPA raised concerns about increasing taxes on homeowners and allowing registered voters who don’t own property to vote on a monetary issue that affects only property owners.
Driscoll acknowledged the tax increase, which she said would be a matter for each family to weigh, but said she at least wanted to give voters the chance to approve or reject a program with state matching funds that she believes could benefit the city.
More than 140 communities in Massachusetts have adopted the CPA since it became state law in 2000.
Tom Dalton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.