SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

August 28, 2012

Group fights to get CPA on ballot

Salem: Petition drive seeks vote on preservation question

(Continued)

In voting 6-5 against the measure last week, councilors cited several objections, including the additional tax on homeowners already struggling to get by and the fact that registered voters who don’t own property would get to vote to raise taxes on property owners.

“In some ways, it’s a camouflaged Proposition 2

1/2 override,” Councilor-at-large Arthur Sargent said last week.

In addition to Sargent, councilors who voted to keep it off the ballot were Joseph O’Keefe, Paul Prevey, Jerry Ryan, Todd Siegel and Michael Sosnowski.

Driscoll said she wants to put the measure before voters.

“I think people feel, ‘Let the people speak,’” she said.

In 2007, the only time the CPA came before Salem voters, it was rejected by a vote of 2,939 to 2,599. The City Council supported putting it on the ballot back then, but no roll call vote was taken.

More than 140 Massachusetts communities have voted to adopt the CPA since it became state law in 2000, including Peabody, Hamilton, Wenham, Middleton and Gloucester. The Beverly City Council voted unanimously to put it on the Nov. 6 ballot this fall.

Since adopting the CPA 11 years ago, Peabody has received $3.9 million in matching funds and collected more than $6 million in tax surcharges, according to that city’s finance office.

If it gets on the ballot in Salem and passes, it would raise at least $400,000 this fiscal year, according to Driscoll.

In Salem, the funds could be used for a number of projects, backers say, including some the city has already undertaken, such as City Hall renovations, restoration of the fence around Salem Common and ongoing park improvements.

While acknowledging she is a strong supporter, Driscoll said she is aware of the sensitive nature of any tax proposal.

“I think this is really a personal decision each homeowner has to make,” she said. “... Taxes and property costs are something I think everyone needs to weigh for themselves, but I think it at least deserves the conversation and the opportunity for people to weigh in on it, especially given the needs we have in our community.”

Tom Dalton can be reached at tdalton@salemnews.com.

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