Let me state clearly here, I did not not vote for the Community Preservation Act. To me it is a tax poorly disguised as community initiative.
None of that matters now. The CPA passed, it is here and a fact of life in Salem. Sometime after the New Year a committee will have to be formed to administer the program. This committee will be established by ordnance or by-law. The ordnance or by-law will also define the term lengths for committee members.
This will be done by the city council with input from the Mayor's office.
This committee is required by statute to have a minimum of five members. Those five must be "designated representatives of the following five municipal boards: the Conservation Commission, the Planning Board, the Historical Commission, the Housing Authority, and the Board of Park Commissioners." There can be no deviation from this.
The city is allowed to seat up to four additional members. These can be drawn at the" discretion of the community and can be from the public, from local government, or from other municipal boards or committees."
Simply put the committee can be as few as the five required members, or it can be six, seven, eight or nine members.
The four additional members can be either appointed, or elected. That is where this gets interesting.
How many, if any additional members should be added to the required five? Should they be appointed or elected?
It would preferable to see the committee comprised of the maximum of nine members. The more debate and input involved in the decisions to be made the better those decisions will be for the city and the more informed the public will be.
The additional four members should not be drawn from any current elected or appointed boards or commissions. This committee should represent the community as broadly as possible. The best way to insure constant and across the board community input would be to draw the four members from the community itself.
These four positions can be "appointed or elected at the discretion of the community."
Let's put them on the ballot.
If the community is truly to have a consistent voice in how the CPA funds are allocated what better way is there than to hear the voice of the people during the election cycle? By having these four positions on the ballot we will have a fresh and honest public conversation on where and how the monies are being allocated every time we vote.
The election may be over, but there is still debate to come and decisions to be made. Your opinion and your voice can still be heard.
Don't let silence rule the day. Let your voice be heard and maybe this CPA thing won't be the monster that many of you believe it to be.