To the editor:
Thank you for the opportunity to share with my fellow citizens of Salem a few thoughts about the dilemma many of us are facing with regard to the Community Preservation Act, which will be on next week’s crowded ballot.
On the one hand, I am very reluctant to vote for even a small increase in our taxes; I believe that taxes (and tax rates) in Salem are already very high, and we need to find creative ways to significantly reduce our taxes, rather than to raise them. Our mayor believes in fiscal stability, which means we must pay as we go — with the overall cost of government already very high.
On the other hand, we are privileged to live in an extraordinary city, one of the richest in the nation in terms of the abundance of historic properties and resources, many of which are in serious need of attention and repair. While one might argue that our city should preserve and improve these assets out of existing revenues, our resources are severely strained, making it a challenge to find funds to preserve our history on a continuing basis. The CPA offers a unique opportunity to target specific projects for preservation and restoration, along with additional revenue from state matching funds.
It is unfortunate that a detailed list of priorities and projects, along with a road map of process and procedure, does not exist in advance of our vote; however, I believe that the mayor is committed to a fair and open process to implement the CPA, and I also hope that the many organizations that stand as guardians over our historic resources will be able to collaborate and work as a coalition to help achieve the best possible results.
In a way, a vote for the CPA is to enter into a covenant with the city, whereby the city and its citizens make mutual promises — the city to responsibly implement the CPA, and the citizens to be involved as much as possible in overseeing both the process and the results. We and the city must do all we can to make sure that the CPA is implemented with accountability, integrity and focus on our long-term future.
And so, with some apprehension, but with continued faith in Salem and its citizens, I am going to cast my vote for the CPA. I hope you will consider doing so, as well.