, Salem, MA

November 2, 2012

Letter: Vote no on Question 4

The Salem News

---- — To the editor:

The Salem News editor (Monday, Oct. 29, 2012) admits the Community Preservation Act is a tax. On my personal crusade against CPA, I am astounded at the number of seemingly intelligent citizens that know little or nothing of what CPA is all about. Even our state Rep. John Keenan appears in favor, as he was one of the signers of the petition that allowed this referendum to be on the ballot in our upcoming election.

The editorial eloquently portrays a rosy picture of how insignificant and small a $2.50-a-month payment of additional tax would be. Regardless of how small a tax may seem, the overall mismanagement of our money is the root cause our leaders are constantly scheming to get us to pay more. The Salem News and too many of the voters just don’t get it. As an example, this past year, Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll needlessly spent a cool million dollars or more for many consultants, a pothole study, a parking meter study, and even while CPA approval hangs in the balance, she has engaged a Somerville architectural firm to rehab our historical City Hall. Once this tax is approved, we own it forever.

The CPA was engineered about 10 years ago at the Statehouse, and the first few cities and towns in Massachusetts to approve this (surcharge) tax in reality did receive a dollar-for-dollar match in funds. That was then. Understanding that there are 351 cities and towns in Massachusetts, to date, only 148 of them blindly signed on to CPA. Using Peabody as an example, this year, Peabody received “a little bit more than 25 percent” matched money, according to The Salem News. In only 10 years, the golden egg has diminished 75 percent, with only 42 percent of all cities participating. The question here is if all of the cities in Massachusetts suddenly elected to avail themselves of CPA, how would the state then provide so-called matching funds for any city? The answer to this question should be a reality check for anyone who understands basic arithmetic.

Another example of our legislators’ flawed methodology would be the Quinn Bill. Noble by design, the Quinn Bill was instituted to help bring Massachusetts law enforcement to a higher level of skill and competence. Upon successful completion of certain (debatable) law enforcement studies, an officer would be given a stipend added to his wages each year of employment and coupled to his retirement. The cost for this Quinn Bill approaches a $1 billion expense. This past year, the Legislature quietly rescinded the law, forcing all cities and towns to finance the plan on our own. Vote NO on Question 4.

The plans to spend the income from CPA are also noble by design. Allow me to suggest the individuals who stand to benefit most if CPA is passed reside in the highest-priced real estate of our fair city. The high-dollar homes situated in the historical neighborhoods of our city and the ones who most likely can afford the paltry $2.50 per month presumably might seek financial relief from the restrictions placed on these properties by our own Salem Historical Commission. This comment is based on personal analysis of the signatures and addresses on the CPA petitions. There seemed to be an overwhelming positive response to CPA from the residents of our historical neighborhoods. Excepting the signatures from The Point section of Salem, the remaining signatures appeared to be geographically random. VOTE NO ON QUESTION 4.

Edward G. Plecinoga