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The CPA Fight Has Commenced

Round three is here and promises to be a brouhaha.


Let's start this week by saying two things.

Despite the vote by the City Council I have no problem with placing the fate of the Community Preservation Act (CPA) on the ballot for a second time.

It is my intention to vote against it.

This issue has created some passionate debate. Local message board warriors have jumped right into it. Some of these posters are kind enough to identify themselves while others choose to remain hidden behind their keyboards.

Some of the points being made against having the CPA on the ballot are certainly legitimate. 

 * How many bites at the apple are enough? The same question was defeated at the polls by a narrow margin in 2007 and the City Council chose to reject it themselves this year. 

* The claim the CPA is just a way to work around Proposition 2 1/2. 

Those in favor also make some good points.

* It would be nice to have additional funds to allocate to truly worthwhile projects. We could all list things in Salem that could use a little cash infusion. 

* We already pay the Deed recording fees levied by the Registry of Deeds, shouldn't we do what it takes to access them?

For me the issue comes down to the tax burden already being shouldered by those who work every day. Business and home owners already have an onerous task facing them. Mortgages, water and sewer fees and state and Federal taxes represent a few of the burdens. The argument that the additional cost "is just a cup of coffee a day" is weak and irritating

It has nothing to do with home ownership as opposed to renting a home. Renters would be just as affected by this as landlords. The cost would be passed on in the form of increased rental costs. 

The interesting aspect over the next two months will be seeing how well the opposition can organize. Seldom do those that yell the loudest actually represent the majority. Nattering on a message board is easy. There is work to be done on their part. Ranting on-line will not be enough.

Those in favor are organized and ready to conduct business. It is they who have selected the time and place for this fight.  

Let's see where it goes.

michael beaulieu September 10, 2012 at 10:20 AM
The registry of deeds should find another way to send the money back to the cities and towns instead of raising taxes (or rent).
windpower September 10, 2012 at 11:14 AM
We can start off with the 55 comments already First spend a moment to read this http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/other_stories/multi-page/documents/01984734.htm Ed Wolfe A Salem tax payer
PJ September 10, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Bill, well said as usual with a salient summary of both sides. I appreciate your civil tone and even-handedness.
Paul Luzinski September 10, 2012 at 12:54 PM
CPA is just another name for TAX. While there are lots of worthy projects around the city, why must property owners keep being asked to pay more.
Don Nadeau September 10, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Ah the Tragedy of the Commons. The failings of big govt capitalist "democracy" come home to roost. Again and again and...
Don Nadeau September 10, 2012 at 01:36 PM
We name streets and commons after this great guy George and his good bud Lafayette, arguably two of the greatest heroes in our history, in our fight to free ourselves from oligarch entitlement and to rule ourselves. STARTING IN COLONIAL.SALEM. And yet the Washington Arch Memorial and the Washington Square fence rot, and Lafayette Street's park is filled with homeless - some maybe even abandoned war veterans. I wade through them every workday at the VA Building. While American hard work and ingenuity has made productivity soar since WWII, our standard of living has stalled and shriveled since the late 70s, due to Regulatory Capture and diversion of that great surplus of wealth to new corporate oligarchs, while we allowed ourselves to be divided and distracted by pettiness. Now we fight over a shrinking pie for the rest of us, abandon our war heroes and let "memorials" - even at the birthplace of our nation's guard - ROT. Hardly deserves the label "community".
chester suchecki September 10, 2012 at 02:24 PM
if the mayor had a definite place for the money to go such as a new senior center on winter island i for one would not have a problem with the surcharge but to give us vague destinations for our money just doesnt cut it with me. if only salem could recoop the money wasted on consultants on things that fell thru or just plain didnt work we would have a new shiny senior life center to be proud of. salem has one of the highest property tax rates on the north shore and i think the residents of salem should get something for their money other than more bills.
Leo Jodoin September 10, 2012 at 04:34 PM
You can join !!Salem Now!! with Leo Jodoin LIVE! Tuesday September 11Th at 7:00pm, Leo and his guest will be talking about the CPA and like always the phone lines will be open, if you miss the LIVE! broadcast you can still see the reruns and go on line to satvonline.org and watch it on video on demand (vod), we hope you will join us!
Don Nadeau September 10, 2012 at 04:52 PM
Here's a good summary of the problem, that I just received from The Story of Stuff folks: http://youtu.be/G49q6uPcwY8
Don Nadeau September 10, 2012 at 06:18 PM
The Phoenix article or opinion piece (speculation really) was published back in 2001, and the new state law's first payments to cities and towns that adopted it were in 2002 (Wikipedia). Almost half have adopted it so far, for obvious reasons. If my Excel works, appropriations are about evenly split statewide between open space, housing and historic projects at almost $200 million each, with recreation far less. Not including an even smaller amount for mixed projects. Hlaf a billion dollars of matching funds (I read this as state taxes/fees we pay) have gone to these OTHER cities and towns. Whether we adopt a half-percent, 1%, 1-1/2%, or even three percent fee, it is only on the value above the first $100,000 so is effectively less, and low income etc. are exempt. The will of the majority telling those who have the most to help improve our impoverished "community".
Cwheels September 10, 2012 at 09:00 PM
If the city couldn't use this fund to purchase new or convert existing units into affordable housing then I would have less of a problem with it, I still wouldn't vote for it. Do you really trust that this money will go toward worthwhile projects that will benefit us? I don't, and now that this will be on the ballot I fully intend to talk about it with my tenants because I will be passing on the additional tax burden to them. After all they wanted everyone to have a stake in it. Why not give us a dedicated fund to donate to, overseen by trustworthy folks appointed by the city council or voted in by us. The Mayor need not apply! The board could identify public places, monuments and open spaces in Salem that need attention then raise and allocate funds. Give us something like that and I could see myself donating a lot more then the price of my daily coffee for a year.
Diane H September 10, 2012 at 11:03 PM
My taxes are going up and my property value is going down...water & sewer going up....meal tax for my business 7%.....Gas prices going up.....food prices going up.....quality of life in salem going down.....stress on public services (police, fire, etc) going up.....Crime in salem going up....Point issues expanding.....addition of low income housing going up....parking fees in downtown up....Number of homeless coming into Salem going up.......I'm not liking what is happening in my city!!!! If this fund was going to be used for things that would IMPROVE the city then fine but IMHO it will fund more low income housing, spruce up the parks that will be destroyed in no time etc etc...there is no more open space that we can protect, and lately, the monies being spent for city improvements are not terribly impressive...city flooding needs to be addressed, the police need more staff, the infrastructure in salem needs shoring up to continue to support the additional apts and condos being built....our roads (Loring ave, Jefferson , Boston st.) to name a couple) are a mess, traffic in Salem is a nightmare....The Train station garage will be a help but will it be big enough or are we just going to make do with what we can afford? The money being spent in many instances just doesn't seem to address the quality of life issues for residents that pay the bulk of the taxes in this city and I'm getting more than a little concerned with the approach being taken by the powers that be!
Edward September 10, 2012 at 11:40 PM
I still say the law is unconstitutional in two ways. (1) It does an end-run around Prop 2 1/2 and (2) it allows voters who do not directly pay property taxes (apartment renters) to vote on something that affects those who directly pay property taxes. I'm voting against it (again).
Chatsworth Osborne III September 10, 2012 at 11:54 PM
The quality of life in Salem has gone steadily down hill the past 4-5 years. More and more resources are being spent year after year to repair the same things in the Point. The Bridge Street project was a fiasco. Nothing has happened with the Sylvania site on Boston Street. The museum continues it voracious appetite for property in the downtown while the University does the same in Wards 5 and 7. Our parks are dumps with no instructors for the children in the summer. We have a commuter ferry boat that broke down and an operator who backed out. The municipal payroll and expenses has become bloated again. And now they want more taxes to give to their favorite developers. JUST SAY NO TO THE CPA TAX.
Deb September 11, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Couldn't have said it better. The mayor and powers that be have a year before the next election to address all this - but will they? Or will it just be more of the same? If indeed they do address it, will it just be token gestures? And then back to more of the same? Time to start thinking "track records".
Deb September 11, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Quality of life going down in Salem is becoming more of a recurring theme. I don't see the CPA improving that. If anything, it may make it worse. And once again, this administration is trying to wring more money out of us stones. We are TAPPED. The end run around our elected councilors was horrific, and city resources were used to do it. Remember in November. I surely will.
windpower September 11, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Leo Thanks for bringing this to the t v public . As you very well know you do have the voting public . At the council meeting that voted down the CPA a parade of city officials spoke in favor of CPA .What a sham . Now lets hear from the public . Sorry I can't watch live ,but will view it later .


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