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LETTER: Prevey Responds to 'Salem News' CPA Editorial

After the 'Salem News' published its view on the CPA issue on Wednesday, Ward 6 City Councillor Paul Prevey responds.

The following letter to the editor courtesy of Councillor Paul Prevey is in response to an editorial published by the Salem News on Aug. 29.

Myself and five of my other colleagues recently voted against putting the Community Preservation Act (CPA) on the ballot this November.

As noted in the editorial, this initiative was affirmatively voted on by the Council in 2007, however it was ultimately rejected by the voters at the ballot box.

It’s now being put forward again by the Administration, however many of us on the Council that supported its placement on the 2007 ballot believe that this initiative had its opportunity in 2007 but the proponents are back for round two.

What the editorial alleges is that somehow the Council denied the voters the right to vote on this. Quite the contrary. The proponents of this initiative did not like the answer the voters of Salem gave in 2007 so they decided that they will put it forward again in the hopes that their coordinated efforts to turn out a more sympathetic electorate will ultimately prevail.

Interestingly, when the Council held its special meeting to take up this matter, several proponents who addressed the Council advised that they did not want this effort on the ballot via voter petition. Instead, the proponents urged the Council to "show leadership" on this issue, and so we did. The majority of the Council decided that it was not in the best interest of the taxpaying residents of Salem to have this on the ballot for a second time.

Unlike 2007, we are in a much worse financial situation in Salem, the Commonwealth and throughout the U.S. People’s homes are being foreclosed on, they continue to lose their jobs or have been unable to find a new one, and in general, are desperately struggling to maintain their financial obligations and make ends meet.

As city councilors, we constantly hear stories throughout the City of residents trying to stay afloat in a sea of financial turmoil. To suggest that the average increase in the surcharge tax would be "only $30" annually is to belittle those who are struggling to stay on top of all of the fees, taxes, fines, charges, surcharges, surfines and rate increases which have consistently ballooned over the years.

Thirty dollars a year, in and of its self, is very minimal, but when you add it to every other increase, it becomes a crushing financial burden for so many people. The cumulative effect is truly a death by a thousand paper cuts; some people have the blood to withstand it, while other are quickly being bled dry.

The editorial asserts that the Council’s stated objection to the tax increase is "not credible" given that it’s a small tax increase. If trying to stem the increase in taxes is not a credible argument to stand on its own, then I know of no other argument which is worthwhile to be made.

Taxes do not appear overnight. They grow ever so slowly over time and sprout new roots which slowly entangle the taxpayer. The steady increase in taxes and the creation of new ones has far out paced people’s income levels to the point that they cannot keep up. And to what end? So that we in government can say we accomplished a large list of items which will serve only the people who can continue to afford to live here in Salem.

It is true that there are many items and projects throughout the City that would benefit from the enactment of the CPA. On its face, the benefits offered through the adoption of the CPA seem attractive and are designed to target specific needs each individual community has with respect to historical preservation, open space/park & recreation and affordable housing.

Unfortunately, enough is never enough when it comes to the insatiable thirst of government bent on extracting more tax payer money on the backs of the already tax-strapped homeowner. At some point, we have to look at the cold economic reality that we find ourselves in and exercise restraint in wanting more at a cost which will ultimately far exceed an additional $2.50 per month, because we know it will not stop there.

Paul C Prevey
Councillor Ward 6

Salem Taxpayer September 01, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Right on, Michael. The city is in much worse shape than when I moved here ten years ago. NOT!!! How was the restaurant life back then? The quality of housing? The nightlife? Arghhh....what caves do people like you live in?
Salem Taxpayer September 01, 2012 at 12:37 AM
Hey redrhino - check out the CPA web site and post again. http://www.communitypreservation.org/ It's really much better than this chorus of naysayers say. Thank you. Salem Taxpayer
Salem Taxpayer September 01, 2012 at 12:39 AM
So - vote NO if it gets on the ballot. But let Salem voters decide. It's obscene that a simple majority of the City Council would prevent us from voting. The Beverly City Council voted unanimously to let their voters decide. What are our councilors afraid of? Democracy?
Salem Taxpayer September 01, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Duh - did you not read my reply? I told you where the match comes from. Did you go to the web site and learn what the CPA is?
Salem Taxpayer September 01, 2012 at 01:31 AM
It's 1%. The voters need to VOTE to increase it - or decrease it. IF it gets on the ballot. But this City Council doesn't want the voters to decide to even put the 1% on the ballot.
Salem Taxpayer September 01, 2012 at 01:33 AM
What, pray tell, does that mean?
Salem Taxpayer September 01, 2012 at 02:27 AM
"poverty pimps" Nice - real nice. Did you post that from Tampa or somewhere else in redneck-ville?
windpower September 01, 2012 at 12:30 PM
This is one time when hiding behind a pen name is a problem .I have been called to task on this ,and responded by posting my name . Note eariler post . I still think pen names are necessery to protect some people from retrubution from employers IE the mayor . Step to the plate taxpayer .We respect your position but you seem to be alone .Also read comments on Salem news .where real name are posted . I endorse this statement and stand by it as a City of Salem tax payer . Ed Wolfe PS great day of sailing
Fran Wilson September 01, 2012 at 01:23 PM
I am a Salem taxpayer and whole heartily agree with everything Salem Taxpayer has said! My name is always on my postings. I don't hide behind anything I am proud of my support for my community and all things made available to the PUBLIC through my tax dollars. The same "anti-tax" group that has made Grover Norquist proud has now become the "no vote" group. Nothing like controlling the vote to get the outcome you want. You live in a COMMUNITY and enjoy police protection, fire protection,a wonderful library, beautiful parks and a National Maritime Museum which is all supported and made possible by TAXES. You enjoy all the comforts these city services provide but don't want to pay for them, or at least more then YOU think they deserve to make while risking their lives to do a job you wouldn't consider doing! What 's the matter with you people? There is no quality of life without a vibrant community willing to pay for the things they live here to enjoy everyday.
Frank Kulik September 01, 2012 at 01:42 PM
Wiling to pay and being able to pay are two entirely different things - as is "anti-tax" as opposed to being able to pay additional tax. As the Councilor points out, these are tough times and not everyone is as financially secure as you may be. He is acting in response to the wishes of many in his ward. I think that when we elect someone to office, that is the course we hope they follow. And for those living on the edge, any relief is better than none at all.
Fran Wilson September 01, 2012 at 02:29 PM
I am a retired , lower middle class, married woman. Not an affluent dilettante throwing monies at all things put in front of me. With consideration of your assumption that "able to pay" instead of "willing to pay", you can make that argument for any tax increase at any time. It is the perfect "anti- tax" argument. The question here is "anti-vote" vs "willing to vote" It is usually the case that the people living in the biggest homes are the most unwilling to pay for the public good, not the people that "are living on the edge". Actually the Councilor made the decision for his ward about "voting" on the issue, not the "willingness or ability" of his electorate to pay for a new tax.
windpower September 01, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Thanks Fran .I have no problem with people DONATING aditional funds towards special projects or services . Go to it . You can even opt to pay extra on you power bill for green power . But when you HAVE to pay aditional tax that is not an option . It's not the $30 it't the point ! My tax is for base services not for what this tax will be for and I expect fiscial responsiblity when they are used . By the way this issue has been voted on and lost . Our councilers also saw fit to drop it Ed
Fran Wilson September 01, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Again "anti-tax" rhetoric. Then vote against it...oh wait...you don't have that option. And I don't have the option to vote "for" it.
windpower September 01, 2012 at 04:52 PM
We did. and we did .Do we need a three strike rule.? Like a young child asking a parent repeatedly for candy until they give in . ED And yes anti tax and proud of it .
Fran Wilson September 01, 2012 at 05:09 PM
That is the point Ed......"anti-tax" is your goal not a better community.
Edward September 01, 2012 at 05:27 PM
If the CPA is an end-run around Proposition 2 1/2, then perhaps the law needs to have its day in court for a judge to determine the constitutionality of the law, with Proposition 2 1/2 still on the books.
Edward September 01, 2012 at 05:30 PM
Then the law should be found unconstitutional, period, based on the fact that voters who do not pay property taxes should not decide on anything that directly affects those who pay property taxes. It's an issue of fairness. Councilor Prevey is correct.
Michael McNeil September 01, 2012 at 06:37 PM
Too much Low Income housing does not make a better community. Salem is a small town and can't absorb anymore low income housing. Low income housing is paid for by tax payers. EBT cards are paid for with tax payer money. Social Services are paid for with tax payer money. Schools are paid for with tax payer money. The tax payers are paying more than our fair share. Slow down on building more low income housing. Mayor Driscoll and her minions are nothing more than a Progressive version of Bull Connor: Hosing down the property owners of Salem and then sicking the attack dogs on us. Shameful.
Dylan September 01, 2012 at 07:26 PM
As always, I read these anti-tax arguments with a mixture of anger and incredulity. First, taxation without representation means something different than you think. Namely, it means that the people who get taxed can't vote, not that people can vote who won't be subject to the tax. Your misunderstanding of this is silly (and I'm being generous here) and suggests that you have a general hostility toward the notion that people should invest in their communities via taxation. Second, this is the first year that you might vote Republican, huh? Tell me, was it the several decades of failed policies, the mindless obstructionism, or the snarling contempt for everyone who isn't a millionaire that made the sale for you? The irony of this is that that your taxes will increase under the Romney/Ryan plan (relative to Obama's proposal) unless you make more that $200K a year. For incomes between $200-500K, you will still pay less under Obama's proposed plan than Romney/Ryan. So, setting aside all of the other Republican insanity you'd be voting for, your vote for Romney will likely hurt you financially as well. Good thinking Chief!
Fran Wilson September 01, 2012 at 08:23 PM
I'm thinking you are one of those fair minded people that think if something is preceded by the word PUBLIC it is inherently for those other people , not like us
Michael McNeil September 01, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Your thinking is incorrect. By the way...what do you mean by "other people?" Please explain so I can get your meaning.
Fran Wilson September 01, 2012 at 09:27 PM
You seem to express a distance from people that need PUBLIC services , so I assumed you are not a participant in something you are so resentful in paying "more then your fair share" . I'm sure you don't use the library or ever call the police or fire department when you need them and probably your children didn't use the public school system. You "anti -tax" people always remind me of the people that only give out candy as long as their kids are "trick or treating" . Once you no longer use the generosity of your neighbors for your gain ,you turn off your light for the next generation of kids.
Michael McNeil September 01, 2012 at 09:45 PM
That is just plain silly. The police, fire department, schools and libraries are what property taxes are meant to be paid for. The other stuff you are droning on about is redistribution of wealth. And that is Un-American and , sadly, typical of the hate America crowd that came out of the sixties.
windpower September 01, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Thanks Michael . Anyone hear from MR Salem taxpayer ? It is simply amazing how they can spin . And it's not about money when it come to voting republican ,its principal .
Fran Wilson September 01, 2012 at 10:50 PM
I guess we know who the "not like us" guys are now.
Dylan September 01, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Ah, I see Michael McNeil. Property taxes are supposed to pay for the things that you value, and only those things. I must have missed that part of the city charter. As for redistribution of wealth, that it the very definition of a functioning economy. What you don't like is how the wealth is being redistributed, which you view as not in your best interest, primarily because you are comically shortsighted. As for accusations of being "un-American", conservatives are the experts here, as your ideological pole star is the defunding of the democratic government of the United States through reduction of tax revenue, as advocated by Grover Norquist. In contrast, I am happy to support my community, city, state, and country by paying my taxes. Michael McNeil, why do you hate America?
windpower September 02, 2012 at 12:19 PM
O K final post on this ,promise. Please read this from the Phoenix paper http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/other_stories/multi-page/documents/01984734.htm Take note of the parts about housing . Ed
KlassySalem September 04, 2012 at 04:17 AM
I'm glad to see councilor Prevey speak out publicly on this issue. Too frequently, our councilors don't publicly defend their positions like this. I like it. Kudos.
David Pelletier September 04, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Ha ha. "poverty pimps" was a term created by ex Congressman Joseph Kennedy to describe The Reverends Al Sharpton & Jesse Jackson in the mid-80's when they were actively trying to shake everyone down. A nice Democratic term. And accurate too!
Anne Sterling September 04, 2012 at 07:43 PM
I wish I knew what percentage of the increased tax would be used to pay for which goals in Salem. I am in favor, and am willing to pay for public improvement projects needed to keep Salem competetive in the tourist trade. Subsidized housing, not so much. Do we have a guarantee how the CPA funds will be spent, if passed?

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