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Join date : 2009-01-18
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|Community Preservation Act|| |
- Quote :
- By George Morse (Seekonk Star)
SEEKONK - The town may have just defeated a debt exclusion that would have cost about $40 a year and now a few citizens want to head back to the polls in April to ask for $29 a year.
On Monday night, John Alves, of River Street, appeared before the Seekonk Board of Selectmen to make a presentation of the Community Preservation Act (CPA). Mr. Alves is part of a citizen group currently circulating a petition to get the CPA on the ballot for the upcoming town elections on April 6.
Mr. Alves said the CPA would not require a 2.5 override and could be funded with a cost to the average homeowner of $29 a year.
Last April, the town defeated a CPA measure by a margin of 824 against to 774 in favor. Like the vote from last year, a number of residents and town officials spoke in opposition to the measure.
Christine Allen said that while it’s nice to want open spaces and “hear splashing water,” it’s no time to put $29 onto already burdened taxpayers. She added that while Massachusetts has previously matched CPA funds above 50 percent, the state is only required to match 5 percent. Despite speaking out against a $29 increase for the CPA, Ms. Allen serves on the building committee that recently pushed for an average increase of $44 a year to fund a new community center.
Selectman Robert Richardson said that while he agrees with the CPA in principal, it’s not the right time to come out with it, not with the economy the way it is and unemployment figures as high as they are.
“To add $29 to a tax bill, it could break somebody,” Mr. Richardson said.
All Mr. Alves was looking for from the selectmen though was an endorsement to send the CPA to the April ballot, something the town’s planning board recently issued.
The selectmen voted 3-1 to endorse the issue heading to the polls while not endorsing the act itself. Mr. Richardson voted in opposition and Selectmen John Whelan wasn’t present at the meeting.
A state law since 2000, the CPA enables cities and towns to establish a dedicated fun for the protection of open space, preservation of historic places and creation of recreational facilities and community housing. Funds for the CPA are generated by a surcharge on local property taxes and matched with dedicated state funding to create a local community preservation fund. Once established, 10 percent of this fund must be annually dedicated to each of three core areas – open space preservation, historic preservation and affordable community houses. The remaining percentage can be spent or reserved for future spending in any of the areas, as well as additional areas for outdoor recreation like ball fields or trails.
A citizen group pushing for a CPA ballot measure, which includes Mr. Alves, is currently circulating a petition that provides for a 1.25 percent surcharge on property tax bills, with low income families and low and moderate income seniors receiving an exemption. Also, the first $100,000 of residential property value is exempt.
On average, this will represent about a contribution of $29 per household.
There are 140 communities currently involved with the CPA. This past November, seven out of seven communities were added to this figure. These towns have completed projects such as creating community farms, protecting wetlands, restoring wildlife habitats, refurbishing historic buildings and developing housing plans.
For more information, visit www.cpaseekonk.org.