, Salem, MA

Local News

August 28, 2012

Group fights to get CPA on ballot

Salem: Petition drive seeks vote on preservation question

Just days after the Salem City Council narrowly rejected a request to put the Community Preservation Act on the 2012 ballot, a local group has launched a petition drive to place the question before voters in the November election.

“All we’re asking is to get it on the ballot,” said Patricia Zaido, executive director of The Salem Partnership, a city lobby made up of business, banking and municipal leaders.

The petition backers need to collect about 1,350 signatures by Friday.

Mayor Kim Driscoll and Mickey Northcutt, executive director of the North Shore Community Development Coalition, were at the train station yesterday morning collecting signatures. A group of supporters met in Lappin Park on Sunday night and began circulating petitions in city neighborhoods.

Northcutt said many residents were upset that the council voted to keep this off the ballot.

“I think the CPA is a great resource,” he said. “The state match that comes with it is a tremendous opportunity for the city. I don’t think it makes sense for a community that has so many needs not to take advantage of a program like that.”

The CPA question asks Salem voters to approve a surcharge of 1 percent on their annual property tax bills, with the funds to be used to acquire or preserve open space, renovate parks and athletic fields, acquire or restore historic buildings, or create affordable housing. As a result of recent state legislation, more state matching funds are now available, and cities can use the money on a broader array of projects, supporters said.

The measure provides some protections, including exemptions for the first $100,000 of property valuation along with exemptions for homeowners who qualify for low-income housing and for some seniors.

For a single-family homeowner with a property assessed at $293,900, it would mean another $30 a year, according to the petition.

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