Good people, well intentioned, proposal flawed

72

To the Editor: 

A German proverb reads: “The road to ruin is paved with good intentions”.  The proverb refers to well-intentioned people advocating for a cause without evaluating other responsible alternatives or considering the unintended consequences. 

In this case, the proposed Community Preservation Act (CPA) would be funded by an open-ended, automatically increasing annual proposition 2-1/2 operating real estate surtax (a TAX on top of your already skyrocketing property taxes).  As your property increases, so will the proposed surtax.  Can you believe it?  A TAX ON A TAX? Really?  So when we can’t tax you more, we will add a SURTAX?  What’s next? A SURFEE on trash bags??

I believe we should maintain our town and protect our heritage.  However, an expected FIRST YEAR $500,000 (a half-million dollars) could be better spent supporting Police, Fire and Education operations.  

How can we preserve our community?  One way is to build the CPA fund similarly to how we paid for the Senior Center without an override.  Each year the town would allocate $500,000 dollars into the CPA fund.  Additional funds could come from the generosity of benefactors, fund raisers, grants, private sponsorships and volunteer support. There could still be a committee to oversee and recommend.  Town Meeting would approve the town’s annual allocation through the usual budget process.

There is an inherent unfairness to the proposal. Although everyone will benefit from CPA as proposed, only those who pay real estate taxes will pay for it.  There is a lot of record keeping involved with the CPA proposal.  There are exemptions for income, age, size of household which must be applied for annually.  Who will keep track, verify the data, communicate with the homeowners, visit disputed properties and prepare and report to the Board of Selectmen, the Finance Committee and Town Meeting?  The proposal will impose another layer of administration.

I urge you to VOTE NO on CPA as proposed. The Proponents should make the required changes and resubmit a modified proposal addressing how to preserve our incredible community.

 

Benjamin W. Tartaglia

Shrewsbury